Sports teams face an interesting landscape in social media. Many of these organizations have built-in bases of loyal fans within their home towns, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to strong engagement within social networks.

It makes sense for athletic franchises to take advantage of Facebook, since it’s the social media network with the largest audience and has the best chance of including fans of these teams. It also has plenty of options for letting followers get a closer look at the personalities behind the brand, which is often a major appeal in athletics. With some smart strategies and a little technical know-how, sports teams, like those featured below, can translate the enthusiasm of their fans into a great social media dialogue.

1. Los Angeles Kings

Even in the face of an ongoing NHL lockout, the L.A. Kings have kept a strong connection with fans on Facebook. The 2012 Stanley Cup Champions solicited photos from people who did anything team-related for Halloween, from pumpkins carved with the Kings’ logo to costumes of the trophy.

The Stanley Cup has been the subject of lots of photos that appear on the team’s Page. The summer travels of the cup — from Berlin to Disneyland — are as much of a facet of the Kings’ visual content as the team members themselves. By using the Stanley Cup tour as a chance to share compelling photos and give more insight into the players, the Kings can easily keep their fans aware of recent developments.

Rather than risk overplaying the Stanley Cup excitement, the team has recently shifted focus to also highlight the franchise’s charitable endeavors. The team launched a campaign in December, called the Season of Giving, to encourage fans to help out in the Los Angeles community. Along with this program, the team posts about toy drives and charity games.

The overall strategy of shifting focus slightly every few months helps keep the Page’s content fresh. That increases the chances that fans will stick with the brand’s updates, because they never know when there will be a new campaign or a new angle to hear about the team.

2. FC Barcelona

We previously covered how FC Barcelona has made its Twitter feeds an essential resource for fans of the soccer team. The club has taken a similar multilingual approach to interacting with fans on Facebook. Most status posts are posted in English, Spanish, and Catalan in order to connect across the many different languages spoken by its fans.

Also, the team has used the strengths of the network, including striking visuals and the Timeline’s Milestones, in order to play up the most popular topics for fans. While the team’s Twitter success stems from live updates of games, the Facebook approach uses large visuals to share final scores. It also has lots of photos documenting games and practices.

The final feature FC Barcelona capitalizes on is Milestones. The team uses them to profile some of its best-known personalities. These legends include detailed stats and stories about the top players and managers from the earliest days of the club. The earliest legend dates to 1912, so fans have a chance to learn more about the history of the team. It’s clear from the number of comments on these posts that the club has fans who are excited to know more about the people who made FC Barcelona into the sports presence it is today.

3. New York Knicks

The New York Knicks basketball team has taken advantage of the potential for third-party apps to get fans better connected and involved. One app shows upcoming games on the team’s schedule, with the ability to set reminders, find the matches on TV, or buy tickets. Fans can also use an app to sign up for team emails or to create a custom Knicks locker, with your choice of jersey number. Finally, the team has an app for live streams of major events, including games and media meetings.

In addition, the team’s Facebook Page features highly informative status updates. Many brands focus on short, snappy updates, but the Knicks are not afraid of using text. First, the feed posts updates during games, giving scores and stats at least every quarter. Beyond the gameplay statuses, many of the posts focus on analysis, either in the form of links to professional commentary, or quotes from player interviews.

By providing such a large volume of content, the Knicks have made it more likely that fans will know to seek out the team’s Facebook Page for information. It turns the social media network into a resource, as well as a platform for fans to connect.

Does your favorite team have a great strategy for social media? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credit: JasonParis]