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Sports and social media: Cooperation with Tiktok: Controversial, but brings “reach”

Sports and social media: Cooperation with Tiktok: Controversial, but brings “reach”

The social media platform Tiktok is trendy – and German sport is following the wave and is entering into collaborations with the controversial portal. Collaboration as an opportunity or a risk?

It’s just short video snippets, like the kiss between basketball star Dennis Schröder and his wife after winning the World Cup last year, that are clicked and seen by tens of thousands of people on the online platform Tiktok. There will be similar clips from German athletes again at the European Football Championship and the Olympic Games in Paris – not only, but also on Tiktok.

The German Football Association (DFB) and the German Olympic team have long recognized the reach and potential of Tiktok. A few weeks ago, the DFB and Team D even entered into partnerships for the home European Championships and the Olympics, among other things, in order to give fans personal insights on the portal, for example. “Tiktok allows us to generate reach and engagement and build a close relationship with the community,” said the DFB.

The aim is to particularly target the so-called Generation Z – people who were born between the late 1990s and around 2010. “Since almost all young people use this platform, we see it as essential to be present here in order to get this target group excited about football,” said the DFB. From Team D’s point of view, it’s about “making the enthusiasm for Olympic and Paralympic sport even more accessible and tangible for the fans.” The partnership is about attention and reach, explained the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB). “Money, on the other hand, doesn’t flow.”

Tiktok is being criticized

But Tiktok is not only popular, but also controversial because critics see it as a Chinese company. According to a US law, the current owner Bytedance has around a year to separate from Tiktok before the app is banned from app stores in the US. The reason for this is the risk that China could gain access to Americans’ data and exert political influence. The company, in turn, emphasizes that it is 60 percent owned by Western investors and has its headquarters in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. However, Bytedance has a large headquarters in Beijing, and the Chinese founders play an important role.

There was criticism of the DFB from some political circles because of its media partnership with Tiktok. “The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution sees significant security risks when using TikTok and at the same time the national soccer team is promoting the app,” Reinhard Brandl (CSU), digital expert for the Union parliamentary group, told the “Tagesspiegel”. And the security expert and deputy parliamentary group leader of the Greens, Konstantin von Notz, warned: “The DFB undoubtedly has a great responsibility here and also serves as a role model.”

However, it is not only German sports that diligently post posts on Tiktok, but also politics – including the CSU and the Greens as well as their top politicians such as Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) and Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), who have their own channels on the platform.

Tiktok cooperation as an opportunity for fringe sports

The DFB responded to the criticism and emphasized that it was “engaging intensively with potential partners in advance”. Tiktok underwent a comprehensive due diligence process. In short: A possible partnership was carefully examined. “This forms the basis for our contract discussions,” it said.

Christoph Bertling from the Institute for Communication and Media Research at the German Sport University in Cologne said that Tiktok “as a non-transparent data octopus” should be treated with caution. However, he sees public outrage as minimal. “After all, there are numerous collaborations and connections with Tiktok on the part of companies and public institutions. In my opinion – as in the USA – this is, if at all, an overarching political debate.”

Fringe sports in particular can gain attention through Tiktok, as Bertling explained. “Fringe sports usually suffer from the fact that many people know little about these sports and their players. Small snippets of communication can activate a fundamental interest – especially in younger target groups. People can be drawn further and further into the sport through small stories and picture stories. ” Little stories like the kiss between Dennis Schröder and his wife.

Source: Stern

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