In 2020, nations around the world quickly became engulfed in a crisis with the announcement that the COVID-19 virus had mushroomed to the point that it had become a pandemic. Subsequent to national government attempts to curtail the spread of the virus, there was an immediate impact on the sport industry. For sporting organizations, there was a cessation of competition and a lockdown for all those in the industry. In the absence of live sport, social media producers have been required to think outside of their normal content avenues to create posts that will engage their followers. Sport agency World in Motion—active in soccer, rugby, golf, boxing, and cricket—is an avid user of social media by way of engaging with clients and sports fans alike. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, there have been significant changes to the focus of the company’s social media output.
Ben Read, the organization’s social media manager, is responsible for the design and dissemination of information through various platforms, notably, Twitter (8,715 followers) and Instagram (2,251 followers). Read has been employed at World in Motion since May 2019. Prior to this, Read was an account manager at Rockford Components and completed a psychology degree in 2017. From 2014 to 2017, while at university, Ben was also an event manager for the university student union, where he honed his social media skills. This interview provides background to the customary aspects of Read’s role, including content creation and connecting with clients and sports fans. The interview then focuses on how Read’s approach to social media has changed in light of the global crisis, based principally around the cessation of live sport and the company’s wish to provide relevant and useful social media content.
The interview with Ben Read showcases the changes that one sport agency has made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read’s experience and observations indicate that sport content on social media will need to continue to evolve post-pandemic and that consumers’ long-term expectations may be different. Social media producers were invariably focused on creativity; however, with their most prominent source of content missing for several months, this requirement has been amplified. We agree with Read’s position statement in that the “go-to” methods will evolve into “better quality content” in the future. However, as Read points out, a change in content does not negate the need for organizations to properly position their content across their platforms or to analyze the engagement statistics in order to understand their audiences. Recognizing the preferences of social media followers across all platforms and posting relevant content will remain an important objective for organizations.