Storytelling in Sports: How Social Media Can Amplify the Big Moment

What were you doing during the Final Four? Or as Tiger walked up to the 18th green at Augusta? How about during the absolutely ridiculous game 5 performance by Damian Lillard vs. OKC?

You were probably watching it all go down on TV, but what else were you doing? My guess is like me, you had your phone unlocked scrolling through your timeline looking to see who else was watching, what your friends were saying, what LeBron was saying.

It’s human nature to want interaction and camaraderie, and during the biggest moments in sports, this is never more apparent than on social media. When the ball drops in the hole on 18 or swishes through the net at the buzzer, we want to see the reactions. We want to see the story unfold through a variety of perspectives, and nowhere else can we find that so quickly.

As marketers and storytellers, it’s our job to capture the essence of these big moments and to spark emotion around them. There are certainly a variety of ways to do this whether it’s a graphic you post or an article you write up, but one of the easiest and most impactful ways to tell the story is through the lens of social media. The content everyone wants to see is already there, so why not use it to build up the true story of that moment?

Let’s dive into a few examples of how we’ve seen this done extremely well in the last month.

Very few events garner the social activity that March Madness does year in and year out. From the bracket-busting upsets and Cinderella stories to big dunks and half-court shots, there’s always plenty to talk about and social media is where that conversation happens. In fact, I’m pretty sure one of my very first tweets was about March Madness when Louisville was upset in the first round and yours truly had them winning it all .

While we didn’t have another 16-seed upset or Sister Jean this year, we still had plenty of storylines that generated over 1.5M posts and 25B impressions. One of the things I love most about March Madness and college sports in general is that it brings celebrity alumni into the center of the conversation, and this year was no different. With a few new faces making their way to the Final Four, we had plenty of alumni involvement including Pat Mahomes for Texas Tech and of course Charles Barkley for Auburn.

Nominated for an Emmy in “Outstanding Social TV Experience”, the broadcast team at Turner Sports do an excellent job of using social content to tell the true story of the game or tournament. One of the more surprising teams, Texas Tech, carried a large following of alumni, and Turner brought forth their perspective through the highs and the lows on their Twitter Live broadcast:

Throughout the tournament, the NCAA made social content an integral part of the in-stadium experience highlighting content from fans attending and top reactions from around the nation at every venue. By surfacing the top relevant content on screen, they kept fans engaged in the game presentation and made them feel like a part of the show.

By utilizing social content within the broadcast or game presentation, you bring fans and viewers closer to the game and elevate the moment. When you see Wes Welker, Chris Long or Magic Johnson talking about the game and showing their emotion, it amplifies the impact of the story you’re trying to tell.

Talk about all-time sports moments! Watching Tiger capture the attention of the entire nation on his way to victory at The Masters was truly one of the greatest stories in sports history. You want to know what made it all the more special though? You guessed it: the reactions and chatter that flooded every social news feed all day on Sunday.

Yes, it was incredible to watch it unfold on TV as a sports fan, but when you look at the number of people talking about it and the names that posted about it, you take a step back and realize the magnitude of the moment you just witnessed. Not only did you have athletes like LeBron and Michael Phelps posting about it, you had former President Barack Obama and other golfers who he just beat congratulating him. Truly remarkable.

You simply can’t tell this story without social content, and both the Tiger Woods Foundation and the Golf Channel did an excellent job of doing just that. In a short and sweet article format, the Tiger Woods Foundation let the content tell the story for them here. Great moments like this should live long after Sunday, and immortalizing them online through an embed is a great way to do so.

Meanwhile, the Golf Channel brought in similar content to help drive the conversation on air as they’ve done so well in the past. Working in posts like this not only add to the story, but it makes the on-air talent’s job that much easier. Social content is relatable and allows talent to give the conversation a more personal touch.

Big moments in sports don’t always have to happen on the biggest stage or in the championship. Breathtaking performances can take place any given day, and as marketers we need to be ready to capitalize on those moments. For the Portland Trail Blazers, one of those given days happened to be Game 5 in the first round of the NBA Playoffs versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.

If you watched any of the first four games in this series or know about the Trail Blazers recent playoff win drought, you know it was building up to something big, but I don’t think anyone could have scripted out how it ended. After enormous criticism the past few years, Dame Lillard and the Blazers responded in a big way knocking off the Thunder in a 50-point performance culminating in one of the most ridiculous, cold-blooded game winners in recent memory.

Much like Tiger’s win at The Masters, it was incredibly entertaining to watch live, but the social reaction afterwards is really what amplified the performance. Just about every other NBA player contributed to the hype alongside the likes of Russell Wilson and Candace Parker. To capture the multitude of reactions to the game-winner and prolong the life of that special moment, the Trail Blazers put together an embed filled with this content for all to see here.

The story your fans and viewers want to hear is already being told across social, so why not leverage the content available to you? Let fans and influencers build and amplify the moment for you by making their content the centerpiece of your story. This not only makes the story more relatable and impactful, but it sparks further conversation around the event elevating it to another level.

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