Social Media in Sports Marketing - Gen Z and TikTok
By Sasha Matar
They say all roads lead to Rome, but today, all roads lead to TikTok. With almost 1.2 Billion active users on the platform, the video sharing social network has become a trendsetter in every aspect.
TikTok content is at the very center of most sports industries. Around 46% of people on TikTok use social media “often” or “sometimes” to check out game highlights, 42% use it for player highlights, and 43% use it at least sometimes for sports content and news. TikTok is definitely the future of sports media with media outlets and sport industries jumping on the bandwagon to appeal to a new audience. According to TikTok “We know the TikTok community loves sports - whether it’s soccer, rugby, or car racing - we’re redefining entertaining sports content”.
Sports brands and companies have been quickly jumping to add it as part of their marketing and business development strategies. From trendy retro sportswear to F1 influencer marketing, TikTok’s sports community is at its peak and Gen Z content creators are at the tip of it.
Sports Wore It Best
Thanks to Gen Z content creators like Charlie D’amelio and Addison Rae, TikTok has become one of the hottest hubs to brought back a lot of trends from older food recipes, to makeup hacks, and fashion. There has always been a 20-year rule on fashion trends where popular styles go from trendy to outdated to trendy again in 20 years. That is, until TikTok took over. In about a two-year period, TikTok has brought back fashion from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, Y2K and the 2010s.
Since 2019, the sports fashion industry has seen a massive throwback of styles, outfits, and pieces from the past. They have taken Nostalgia Marketing to a whole new level by making retro athletic attire trendy without even needing to play sports. It’s not surprising that Nostalgic marketing has become a hallmark for sports brands especially since statistics show that 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product that appeals to them personally. If you google TikTok activewear trends, the phrase “Activewear Trends” has been linked to videos for a total views of over 785.4M views. Activewear or sportswear has become a trendy outfit for any outing - supermarket haul, coffee date, or flight attire - and not just for the gym or to workout.
Big sports brands like Nike and Puma have recently released 90s-inspired pieces or collections. Nike collaborated with luxury brand Jacquemus to release a small line of clothes and shoes that, in their own words, “allow us to expand the culture of sport and redefine it for the next generation”. Gen Z is all about bringing old styles back and this collection fits in perfectly. In the last two years, Puma released several retro styled shoes including the TRINOMIC shoe in 2022 and brought back older pieces that were onced released in the 80s for basketball court and turned them into 2021 sneakers. Did the inspiration come from TikTok and Gen Z? No one can be certain for sure, but the two are definitely in many round table conversations.
A few months ago, TikTok partnered up with NHL’s account to create original content and unique experience on NHL’s account. NHL’s TikTok account took pre-game fashion or pre-game looks to a whole new level by introducing ‘who wore it best’ TikToks on their page. The NBA has been great at posting pre-game looks on their Instagram and it’s interesting to see TikTok took over the thunder. This is a great way to showcase athletes’ personalities and bring them closer to their fans and followers on social media.
Many sports organizations are going the extra mile to appeal to a younger audience by hiring Gen Z executives and partnering with Gen Z content creators. Instead of shying away from bold and edgy content, many sports organizations are leaning full force into it, playing into the younger demographic of the platform. The NFL, as an example, has made a variety of content using trending sounds or creating appealing videos that link back to their YouTube channel, some of which have been highly unexpected, coming from the official account of the NFL. They’ve taken it in stride though. On a recent video highlighting the new NFL rookies of the 2022 season, one user commented “aint [sic] no way the official nfl tt posted this” and the NFL commented back simply with “Way”.
Similarly, F1 took Influencer Marketing to a whole new level with Aston Martin’s decision of handing over their F1 brand story to TikTok content creators. TikTok is Aston Martin’s official creator partner as the brand embraces the popularity of motorsports and F1 on the platform.
Bringing Fans Behind the Scenes
TikTok brought the sports community together during the 2022 Olympic winter games. 18 year-old Olympic snowboarder Tessa Maud shared her day-to-day life at the Olympic village by showing her followers the cafeteria, Team U.S.A outfits and gears, as well as the Village’s smart beds. Similarly, her teammate Maddie Mastro took her 600k TikTok followers on a tour of the pristine Olympic village market and her daily COVID-19 throat swab as part of the Games’ protocols. This is just a glimpse of how Olympians and professional athletes have shared parts of their sports’ world with their fans and followers in a completely new way.
It’s been three years since the rise of TikTok and it is estimated that by the end of 2022, there will be more than 1.5 billion active users on the app worldwide. TikTok’s sports community is massive and continues to grow everyday. Whether it’s previous sports fanatics or newbies, TikTok has become a platform that brings back sportstrends, informs fans of latest game highlights or stats, and engages sports lovers with their favorite athletes or sports brands. With every new technology or social media platform comes uncertainties, but one thing is certain, TikTok is the future of sports and it is here to stay.