Brands Need to Bet on Women in Sports

How the rallying cry for equality and empowerment resonates on Twitter

Nancy Baker (‎@NanceBaker) has heard it all. Women’s soccer can’t fill stadiums. The players don’t deserve the same pay as men. Or maybe the worst one—are women playing at all?

Her response on Twitter is clear.

Baker is a player and a girls’ soccer development coach. She’s also a trailblazer who pushes all day, every day to promote women’s soccer and ‎#womeninsports. She’s changing the game, one development clinic, one goal and one tweet at a time.

Baker and others like her are ‎#WomenSupportingWomen and they’re coming together on Twitter to advance the culture of sports. Recent research from Twitter Insiders found that in the U.S., one in three soccer fans on Twitter who don’t currently follow women’s soccer said they’re likely to in the future. It’s a fired-up audience that’s ready for women’s sports to take a turn in the spotlight.

How trailblazers are changing the game

People in the ‎#womeninsports conversation on Twitter are top athletes, college players and even mothers ferrying their daughters to and from softball practice. They’re uniting to live-tweet major matches, cheer on goals and aces and celebrate every match.

They’re pushing to empower and elevate one another in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Sisters Nneka (‎@Nnemkadi30) and Chiney Ogwumike (‎@Chiney321) know this firsthand.

As two women’s basketball stars who also serve, respectively, as president and VP of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA), Nneka and Chiney aren’t just playing to win—they’re playing for change. And in November 2018, they ignited a new conversation on Twitter and brought about a new chapter in WNBA history. 

“This is not just about business. This is deeply personal. This is about the kind of world we want to live in.”

So began Nneka’s 1,800 word article in The Players Tribune announcing the WNBA’s decision to opt out of the league’s current collective bargaining agreement. It’s not just about the money, she explained, but about a future with more transparency and leverage for players who are giving their all to a sport they love. Nneka’s challenge to the sport? Bet on women.

Twitter—and fellow basketball players—had her back.

Rallying the risk takers 

As ‎#BetOnWomen has become a rallying cry, the ‎#womeninsports audience has grown. Case in point: Two out of three Twitter users believe in equal pay and coverage for women’s soccer, according to research from Twitter Insiders. It’s not only a place for everyone involved to share big moments and hand out virtual fist bumps, it’s a place to call out unfair gender practices and make a case in support of shared causes.

And brands are getting involved. Athletes have always relied on their sponsors, but now those relationships are on stage for everyone to see. Almost half of consumers think brands should be involved in social issues and movements, according to research from MAGNA sponsored by Twitter. Brands that stand up for ‎#womeninsports receive the same sort of encouragement and support. When female athletes win, it’s a win for involved brands and the whole ‎#womeninsports audience.

With the door for discussion left wide open, fans and players trade stories about what it’s like trying to carve out space for themselves in traditionally male-dominated fields (literally). From reasonable maternity leave policies, to a fair shot at equal pay, like what Nneka and Chiney are after, the audience is ready to listen and eager to learn. With their voices echoing across Twitter and beyond, it’s a step in the right direction and a clear sign of progress for women in sports. And their work has only just begun.

E.J. Samson is the lead content strategy manager for Twitter’s Global Business Marketing team. Follow him on Twitter @ejsamson.