As the use of social media continues to evolve and expand, consumer brands that leverage the NFL and MLB have a significant opportunity to reach a more passionate fan base and create a deeper level of engagement, according to the 2010 Catalyst Fan Engagement Study.


Catalyst and Greenfield Online, a Toluna Group company, developed a nationwide consumer survey targeting avid MLB and NFL fans who use social media. The study explored how fans use social media to follow these sports, its impact on their fan experience, and what they expect from social media moving forward. It revealed that more than half of MLB and NFL fans consider themselves “more passionate” fans since they started following these leagues using social media. 


Among higher income fans, the impact has been even greater, with approximately two thirds of higher income fans feeling they have become “bigger” fans. Additionally, more than 70 percent of younger MLB fans and 66 percent of NFL fans described themselves as bigger fans since they started following these sports via social media.


Social media is also increasing the amount of time fans spend watching and following the NFL and MLB, with almost half of fans claiming that once they begin following the leagues through social media, they devote more time to the sport.  This trend was most evident among higher income fans.  More time invested by fans offers advertisers and sponsors increased opportunities for exposure among this group.


“Social media provides marketers with the opportunity to reach fans that are more active and passionate than their peers, and transform them into brand advocates as well as customers,” says Bret Werner, managing partner, Catalyst Public Relations. “Fans engaged in social media are more interested in interacting with the brands partnering with their sport of choice.  This includes receiving and responding to promotions and offers.”


The study revealed additional key insights about NFL and MLB fans, including:

·         Facebook is the leading social media site used by NFL and MLB fans, but it isn’t the only place to be

·         Fans primarily use social media tools after the game, particularly those fans who are 46 and older

·         Increasingly, social media is being seen as an information resource for fans, who leverage tools for scores, news, and as a means to stay “in-the-know”

·         Mobile is becoming an increasingly more important medium to leverage, especially with younger fans

·         Promotional offers and special deals enhance the fan experience, especially those that can help fans get closer to the game