The term “social business” has gained an incredible amount of attention over the last couple years. A Google search for the term brings back more than 4.6 million results, and there have been countless blog posts, presentations and panels on the topic as of late. In fact, Edelman Digital’s own Michael Brito has written an entire book on the subject.
As is the case across most industries, buy-in to social media strategy varies throughout professional sports. Some teams are leveraging social media to create innovative new ways to connect with their fans, such as the Phoenix Suns hiring a social media sideline reporter or the New Jersey Devils enlisting fans to help manage their social media Mission Control hub, while other teams are just dipping their toe into the social media waters without much leadership or strategy.
Regardless of how involved teams have been with social media to date, in order to successfully implement a social business model, buy-in is necessary from the leaders of the team — ownership, the President of Business Operations and the President of Team Operations/GM.
Titles and roles vary from team-to-team, but for the most part owners have someone to oversee business operations and someone to oversee team operations, both reporting directly to ownership. All parties need to understand the benefits of social business and be on-board for the model to succeed.
Ideally, ownership and team presidents should not only endorse social media strategy, they should also participate in order to set an example for the staff and set the organization up for success when implementing a social business model. In the non-sports world, two high-profile examples of successful social businesses with leaders who set the bar for their employees are Michael Dell of Dell and Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines.
The professional sports world, though, has its own set of high-profile leaders who are doing an impressive job of communicating through social media. Here are a few notable examples:
- Paul Allen of the Seattle Seahawks/Portland Trail Blazers (Owner)
- Jeanie Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers (Executive VP/Business Operations)
- Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks (Owner)
- John Elway of the Denver Broncos (Executive VP/Football Operations)
- Peter Guber of the Golden State Warriors (Owner)
- John Henry of the Boston Red Sox (Owner)
- Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets (General Manager)
- Brett Yormark of the New Jersey Nets (CEO)
These teams have a great opportunity to leverage the buy-in and participation of their key leaders to put the policies, training, structure and technology in place to formalize their social media efforts and make the successful transition to a social business model. Meanwhile, teams who have yet to get buy-in from their leaders should hold up these examples to show ownership and team presidents the success their colleagues are having leveraging social media to communicate with fans.
The team leaders listed above aren’t the only ones out there participating actively in social media, though. Who are some of your must-follow execs in the pro sports world?
Image credit: Nelspin
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