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  • Writer's pictureSienna Archer

Looking back may show us what's next for fan communities

Updated: Jan 25


  • Early fan communities hosted on team domains were significant in driving fan engagement and page views, and cultivating connections between fans, but they've been washed away by big social.

  • A resurgence of intimate online experiences akin to the MySpace model could benefit current fan communities.

  • By not hosting private, team branded fan communities, sports teams may be missing out on enhancing fan loyalty and learning.

Whatever happened to fan communities?

Fan forums were all the rage in the nascent days of user-generated content. Teams that dared to let fans voice their opinions directly on the team's domain saw their engagement and page views soar. This was a time when Facebook was still a fledgling network, not yet open to the public, and some teams took a bold step into the world of fan community sites reminiscent of MySpace. These platforms allowed fans to post content, ascend leaderboards, and personalize their profiles with HTML, widgets, and more, creating a vibrant, growing community.

The rise of major social media platforms with their powerful algorithms swept away these team-branded fan communities. And for over a decade, the unique, private spaces where fans could connect and express themselves have been largely left for dead.

Today in early 2024 we could be witnessing the winds of change. Recent articles like this one from Rolling Stone, titled "It's Time for MySpace to Make Comeback," suggest a renewed interest in the social community models of the past. The appeal of MySpace, or a modern equivalent like NoSpace for Gen Z, lies in the intimate and customizable experience it offers—something people today are increasingly seeking.

The notion of reviving MySpace-style communities will seem ridiculous to many leaders in the sports, media and technology realms. Twitter (X) already does that, they'll say. Fan communities are too small to monetize, too cumbersome to manage, they'll say. And MySpace? Are you kidding? That's so...2008!

We don't disagree with any of these perspectives, but we believe there's something to this nascent notion. We still think fan communities are a critical (and missing) part of virtually every team's loyalty strategy, which is why we're preparing to see much more of our old friend, Tom, in the days to come.


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