It is amazing to see how social media has changed sports consumption. Back in my college days I can remember hoping on Rivals and Scout to soak up as much message board information as possible. As with almost all message boards, users have to take the claims with a grain of salt. On a daily basis fans will state they have inside sources inside a program yet they are just like every other Joe on the street. Since 2009 Twitter has been the place to go for sports information. In fact, I use it is my sports page as I rarely go to major sports websites. Now that we continue to evolved in the social media ecosystem is it possible that Google+ can grab the sports crowd?
If you would have asked me six months ago I would have said Google+ is poised to be the next big player in social media when it comes to sports. Today, I am not so sure. One of the reasons Twitter is very popular with sports fans is the fact that it is easy. You grab your Android or iPhone, open the app and start blasting out short bursts of information. If you are somewhat knowledgeable you will grow a sports following rather quickly. Combine knowledge with sarcasm and you can have a field day on Twitter.
During any sporting event you can search the hashtag relevant to the game on Twitter and there will be hundreds and sometimes thousands of tweets per minute. This is simply not happening on Google+ or Facebook. Facebook is a little more active pre and post game with predictions and analysis but Facebook does not own the second screen the way Twitter does. Most major sports celebrities have some type of presence on Twitter with a following over 10,000. Not only do they have a large following but that following is active and engaging on the platform.
Where are Google+ Users?
I currently own a community of over 10,000 college football fans on Google+ and it is nearly impossible for me to get engagement on a specific game. Yes, there are a few Florida State and Alabama fans that will talk about their team but nothing when compared to Twitter. I feel as if people sign up for Google+, notice there is not a ton of activity and walk away. If only 1% of the 10,000 college football fans were active in the community it would be one of the best places for me to go to consume content. Unfortunately, it is the same 15 to 20 people posting about the same teams daily.
Since my early days on Google+ I have attempted to carve out a niche in the sports world. I created the college football and college basketball communities the day communities were released. I have helped with many major hangouts and participated in the Tiger Woods hangout. I love the Google+ platform but there needs to be active users for Google+ to grab the sports crowd. Sports fans want to be where their friends are. If their friends have a Google+ account yet they have never posted it say something about their interest in the platform.
How Can Google+ Get the Sports Crowd?
This is a question I have been trying to answer since I jumped on Google+. The social layer of Google has all the resources to create a fun and welcoming environment but it is up to the users. Until we see major athletes and celebrities actually using the platform it is hard to make the prediction that Google+ will cut into the sports domination of Twitter. Google has pushed Hangouts on Air, which are live streaming YouTube interview videos. Unfortunately, the participants tend to finish the Hangout on Air and never return to Google+ to engage.
A prefect example of this is Jay Bilas. Jay Bilas participated in a Google+ Hangout on Air discussing college athletesbeing paid. He posted a single update on September 30th, 2013 and he has not posted anything else. Any college sports fan is going to see this and make the conclusion that Google+ does not have the user base of Twitter and Facebook. When looking at this particular Jay Bilas post I also noticed there are 22 +1s and 8 comments. When Jay Bilas posts on Twitter he often gets 500 retweets and thousands of favorites. From his standpoint, I can see why he sees Google+ as not worth the time investment.
Google+ is still very young. It just turned two years old. That said, they are going to have to give users an incentive to use the product. Sports fans are not going to live Twitter and Facebook if their friends are not on another social network. It will be interesting to see how things play out over the next few months.
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