Social Media Makes Tennis Tournament Easily Accessible
The start of the 2011 Wimbledon Championships in late June heralded a whole new era of ‘open’ tennis, making the tournament as well as the players easily accessible via social media. Rewind a few years back, when viewership of sports events was restricted to television screens and discussions to living room conversations; the growing use of social networking made this year’s Wimbledon Championships one of the biggest events in web history. The players and fans, both, took tennis to a whole new level with a healthy dose of Facebook posts and Twitter comments. Here’s a brief overview of how social media extended the reach of the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament:
- Despite being associated with history and tradition, Wimbledon, this year decided to move with the times by taking its online presence to the next level through its Facebook and Twitter pages.
- This year’s ‘Wimbledon-on-Social’ wave was started by Andy Murray who teamed up with his racquet sponsor, Head, to launch the ‘Get Closer’ campaign on Facebook and YouTube. The viral campaign encouraged fans to interact with him during Wimbledon.
- In addition to the +694,429 ‘likes’ on Facebook, the official fan page functioned as a hub for all the Wimbledon activity online and gave users insight to the tournament.
- A huge number of pictures and videos were uploaded on Facebook, besides several contests that allowed fans to win tickets by simply ‘liking’ the page; a smart marketing strategy.
- The build up on Twitter increased as the tournament progressed, especially during the Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal final.
- Although the event initially attracted a small audience, it gained traction online, especially with the elimination of Roger Federer who was expected to qualify for the finals.
- Real-time access to everything surrounding the tournament was made possible through live video and radio streaming.
- People could access matches via iPad, iPhone and Android apps and follow play-by-play feeds of the tournament on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook from the start to finish.
The Social Media Buzz
Geographic and Demographic Break Down (“Wimbledon”)
Analysis by Position² Brand Monitor, for the time period between 5th June 2011 and 5th July 2011, shows that:
- The UK, as expected, witnessed the highest social media buzz at 44%.
- This was followed by Australia at 24% and US at 15%.
- The gender distribution chart leans heavily towards the male population (71%); the women, at 29%, were not as enthusiastic about the tournament as their male counterparts.
- The +65 age group was not very active in their discussions pertaining to Wimbledon; this reason for this could be because of their social media presence, which is not as much when compared to the 20-35 age bracket, which accounted for the maximum discussions (45%).
Volume Analysis and Top Media Break Down
The analysis of conversation volumes shows some interesting results:
- Although the final match between Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was played on 3rd July, the quarter finals between Nadal and Mardy Fish, played on 29th June, saw a spike in conversation volumes, with 22,775 posts registered on a single day.
- News, followed by discussion forums recorded the maximum buzz at 35% and 28% respectively.
- While blogs also witnessed a fair share of discussions (21%), Twitter (10%) and Facebook (7%) did not record as much buzz as expected.
Key Players’ Analysis, Male
|Novak Djokovic (Wimbledon 2011 Champion)
|Rafael Nadal (Runner Up)
Key Players’ Analysis, Female
|Petra Kvitova (Wimbledon 2011 Champion, Ladies’ Singles)
|Maria Sharapova (Runner Up)
What made the 125th Wimbledon Championships different from the tournaments hosted earlier, is the massive online buzz the event recorded. The organizers, players, and fans, took this year’s tournament to the next level with their discussions, play-by-play updates and comments on various social media channels. For the officials at Wimbledon, expanding the reach of the championships beyond tennis courts and television sets was the goal; and this, we believe, is something they more than managed to reach. While the organizers worked on the Wimbledon.com site to make it “a year-round destination and present it in an engaging and dynamic way to communicate with the global tennis community”, the players themselves made efforts to ‘connect to fans’. Among the top players that were highly active on social media were Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, and Sharapova, who interacted with fans on Facebook and Twitter.
For tennis tournaments like the Wimbledon Championships and 62 ATP tournaments worldwide, social media is now a vital part of the digital and onsite experience. In this interview, John Phillips, SVP Digital Marketing ATP, talks with Erick Mott about plans the ATP has to help make tennis tournaments more interactive and engaging for fans and players. Fans are already creating conversations (comments/blog posts/tweets) in real-time during tournaments and about specific matches and players, and the ATP is going to enable even more conversations via digital channels by collecting and sharing more data from related tennis experiences and content sources.
Here’s something interesting; our analysis shows that winners do not always occupy the top spot on the popularity scale. In the case of the men, as well as the women, although both Djokovic and Kvitova were crowned the champions, it was the runners up, Nadal and Sharapova who were most popular on social media. What also stands out is the neutral tonality of most conversations. After studying several posts, we conclude that people were more enthusiastic about updating each other instead of criticizing or overtly praising the players.
That said, social media has had a great year at Wimbledon 2011, helping fans to access their favorite sport in a very different way. While this year’s event was reinvented in the digital space, we are eager to see what role social media will play in the next Wimbledon Championships and if it will be just as influential or more.