There is no denying social media definitely has power in today’s day and age. If you were to stop what you are doing for a minute and watch those around you, how many people do you think you would see scrolling through Facebook on their phone, reading the news on their iPad or watching a snapchat from a friend? Whether you are someone of celebrity status or not, most people are using some form of social media. Considering this how is it that National Rugby League (NRL) players, whom sports fanatics such as myself consider celebrities, build relationships with their fans through social media?
Most NRL players have their own Instagram and Facebook accounts which are separate from team accounts run by their NRL club. Players individual accounts allow for closer interaction between their fans and themselves with personal insights given via pictures, videos and other means of their day to day football and personal lives. Commonly featured are Q & A sessions where the NRL player will answer questions posed directly to them by fans. This allows fans to engage on a closer level with players making them feel as though they are receiving a more unique and one on one experience.
It is also not uncommon for fans to be given exclusive access to prize giveaways through players’ personal social media accounts. It brings players and fans closer together as players are engaging directly with their fans over a mutual passion and the ability to use tags which directly message the player. At the end of the 2016 NRL season, Michael Morgan, a highly popular North Queensland Cowboys Player began an Instagram competition where he gave away a number of his current season NRL jerseys, training shirts and previous NRL jerseys to fans. The competition ran over a period of days where fans made comments on his post saying why they would love to win one of his items. At the end of that period he announced the winners on Instagram, contacted them directly and sent off their merchandise. Following this he also reposted pictures of his fans wearing the specific items they had won. This idea was seen and commented on by other players and the idea then took off with other players following suit and giving away similar items of their own to their fan bases.
Both NRL clubs and individual players use social media to try to engage on multiple levels with fans. Invitations to open training sessions for clubs are advertised on both club social medias and individual player social medias. This gives fans an opportunity to attend these sessions, watch their team train and have pictures and a chat with players after wards. These types of fan engagements don’t just extend to club games but State of Origin and Australian club games when played both in Australia and overseas. No matter the location of players and fans, social media plays and important part in building relationships.
Are all aspects of social media positive; to what extent do individual players expose too much of their private life?