When you think of sports fans, passion is one of the first things that comes to mind.

When you think of active social media participants, passion comes to mind just as quickly.

This is both a blessing and a curse for sports teams.

When things are going well for a team, social media channels provide it with a “virtual roar” that can be heard all over the world. But the “virtual boo” can be just as loud.

How do these teams channel this passion?

Let’s serve up some examples of teams that make innovation a big part of what they do.

1. The Chicago Bulls “connect” fans with fans all over the world.

The NBA’s Bulls are one of the world’s most popular sports teams. And it ticks all the social media boxes you’d expect. But the team’s special Bulls Connect social network makes it a must follow.

Bulls Connect is a place where fans can communicate directly to each other, follow other fans, write blog posts, and share photos in a way that keeps this passion in the one place. It comes to life during game time where it connects you with other members, providing an “extended living room” to trade commentary with other fans all over the world.

2. Jenson and Lewis drive the impressive @thefifthdriver Twitter account.

Formula One racing fans will be quick to sing the praises of @thefifthdriver, the Twitter account of the McLaren Mercedes team (home of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton). The way it bridges the gap between official news and personal insights is on par with any sports team in the social media space.

One of the reasons it is so popular is the exclusive content it dishes up, especially on race day when the drivers are getting ready to race.

3. FC Barcelona on Facebook caters to fans all over the world.

Boundaries don’t exist on social media. For some sports teams, this presents some big challenges.

FC Barcelona is a Spanish team, but its Facebook page (which has 31 million “likes”) is followed by fans all over the world. How do they get around that?
The team uses a Bing translation plugin for starters, giving fans English and Spanish version of each status update. It also use photos in a clever fashion, allowing them to tell stories that don’t require translation.

4. The Dallas Cowboys hangout with fans on Google+.

The NFL’s Cowboys are renowned for social media innovation. Within days of the launch of Google+ pages last year, it staged a Hangout with linebacker DeMarcus Ware and nine lucky fans to rave reviews. This is a great use of the Hangouts function, adding real value to the team’s presence on the Google+ platform.

5. The Celtics embrace Instagram in an instant.

The Boston Celtics are the first professional sports team to create an Instagram account. Thanks to this early adoption, the NBA team has amassed 170,000 followers who hang off every update.The exclusive pre-game locker room shots give you an idea of the access you’ll get via this account.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins reach out to female fans via Pinterest.

Much has been said about the referral power of Pinterest. And an awful lot has been said about how popular Pinterest is among females. So if one of your tasks is to attract more female fans, Pinterest isn’t a bad option—as the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins have discovered with its pinboards. The ability to use boards to further categorize the user experience is handy, too.

7. ChelseaFC showcases ChelseaTV on YouTube.

Of all the Premier League teams, Chelsea has embraced YouTube with more passion than any of its rivals. With more than 86,000 subscribers, the team’s YouTube channel is a true extension of its “pay TV” product and broader video content portfolio.

What makes it unique is the exclusive content.

A great example is this exclusive interview with Fernando Torres when he signed with Chelsea. Not only did this generate views and shares, but it also acted a great advertisement for the channel and the content it delivers.

As you can see by the selection shared in this story, sports teams are not short on options when it comes to owned social media channels. But as many other sectors are discovering, picking and choosing the right options is a battle in itself.

A version of this story first appeared on AdamVincenzini.com.

by (author unknown)