When Lebron James took his "talents to South Beach," it instantly became one of the biggest moments in South Florida sports history. But it was the response to Lebron's decision, that proved the power of social media.
"When he said that, our world exploded," said Miami Heat director of new media, Jennifer Tobias.
"We went from 20,000 Facebook fans to now 4.8 million," Tobias said. "Our numbers were growing at a number we couldn't even keep up with."
Tobias joined social media experts from the Miami Dolphins and Florida Panthers at a panel discussion on Tuesday called, "Tweeting On The Field." It was part of Social Media Week, taking place in Miami at the Adrienne Arsht Center through Feb. 17.
David Sugarman, Managing Principal of Sugartime Sports Management, also sat on the panel. He uses social media every day to communicate with his professional athlete clients.
"If we text message, they don't respond. If we call, they don't pick up the phone. If we email, they don't check their email. These kids live on Twitter," Sugarman explained.
It's not just athletes attached to it though. Fans are too. That's how the Heat were able to spread the word about their Big Three welcome party at the AmericanAirlines Arena last summer, even though it was only finalized at around 4 p.m. that day.
"We put out the link on social media, on Facebook and Twitter," Tobias recalled, "Within an hour we got rid of 13,000 tickets. We filled the entire building."
The Panthers have become extremely active on Twitter and Facebook recently and unlike some sports franchises, they aren't afraid to have fun interactions with fans.
"We're not super straight-laced when we say our comments," explained digital media coordinator Carly Peters. "We say plenty of sarcastic things."
They also tweet out behind-the-scenes photos and videos of players and coaches, in addition to game highlights and commentary.
Social media isn't always fun for pro sports teams. The Dolphins have a huge loyal following on Facebook and Twitter, and send out exclusive information every single day. However, during the 0-7 start last season, they experienced some rough times. Wayne Partello, the Dolphins Director of Content told the audience about a time he saw the ugly side of social media, during the Dolphins bye week.
"I was away with my family and I woke up to check the feed and there was a message on our Facebook wall. It said, "Good morning Miami Dolphins front office, go F yourself!"
The crowd got a good laugh, but Dolphins radio host and social media contributor Jesse Agler pointed out, "I would imagine if the Dolphins went 15-0 to start the season, you'd still get some negative people. Maybe the Patriots fans!" he joked.
Social Media Week also included panel discussions about TV News gathering, food and more. You can get more information at www.socialmediaweek.org/miami
The event was hosted by the brpr group and the Adrienne Arsht Center.