New Marketing Strategies in the Era of Online Technology

New Marketing Strategies in the Era of Online Technology

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Social media is defined as “web sites and other online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information and to develop social and professional contacts” (Dictionary.com). Social media have dramatically altered mass media production and consumption of sports broadcasting and marketing. In the current digital age, media users have a wide variety of social channels available at their disposal. There is so much information available electronically that searching for and obtaining information can become overwhelming. The creation of the Internet has ushered in a multitude of communicative possibilities that only five years ago was difficult to imagine. It was not too long ago that people handwrote letters and used maps to find their way. While some of these practices are still employed, the Internet makes them seem archaic and digital resources have all but made them disappear. In addition to the electronic retrieval of information, people are able to communicate and interact with others worldwide, overcoming demographic and spatial barriers. These capabilities have only been magnified through the emergence of sites like Twitter, Facebook, and other major social media applications. By their nature, these sites allow the creation and the wide transmission of content that fuels interaction, collaboration, and community. These possibilities were available in the early days of the Internet, known as Web 1.0, but many operating systems we not equipped to handle file-sharing capabilities so readily available in computers and mobile devices today. Additionally many of these electronic forums was primarily one way. The communication and interaction occurring through what has been termed Web 2.0 is demonstrated by social media (Sanderson, 2011, p. 2). According to Sanderson, scholars have suggested that Web 2.0 sites are “driven by social connections and user participation and have created a new Internet generation characterized by digital content creation and interactivity” (Song, 2010, p. 249). Social media offers people accessible sites where they can connect with others to create and share content, and more actively participate in media production and consumption (Sanderson, p.2). These sites have gained millions of users in a relatively short time. Twitter is inherently designed to facilitate connections. Social media has become so embedded in the fabric of everyday life that it is impossible to cover every possible area and sector in which it has produced change. No other area has been as dramatically altered as sports. With the explosion of Twitter, athletes have become more accessible to fans, marketing of teams and brands have adopted new practices, and the way news and information is delivered rivals mainstream media and, at times, puts athletes and organizations at odds with each other.

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Within the realm of sports, journalism has taken the hardest hit by the impact of social media sites. The rise of Web 2.0 changed the traditional sports media outlets and forced journalists to market their own work. Many outlets have adapted to the change, but some have faltered. The Washington Times eliminated their sports page entirely while others print publications have given less space to feature sports news (Sanderson, 2011). Elite mass media organizations such as ESPN have remained unchanged for the most part. This new dialogue can take many forms, including blogging and other social media sites, but Twitter is the dominant venue. Research suggests that sports journalists use Twitter most often for breaking news (Schultz & Scheffer, 2010). “If Carmelo Anthony sneezes, people want to know,” said Ben Hochman who covers the Nuggets NBA team for the Denver Post. Once a journalist posts to Twitter, it can expand far beyond the reach of traditional media outlets (Schultz & Scheffer, 2010, p.474). Blogs and mircoblogs have given journalists a way to remain competitive in a world where unconventional media sites are becoming as legitimate as mainstream media.
Web 2.0 creates an opportunity for those outside mainstream media to participate in sports reporting. These websites and blogs provide unconventional reporting that enables them to distribute stories without the same verification process that governs most mass media organizations. Before a story is able to be blogged, tweeted, or written about, mass media organizations need at least two confirmations from legitimate sources. Independent sites such as Deadspin.com and Profootballtalk.com only need one source that may not even be valid, which could potentially give them the upper hand in sports reporting.
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