Australian Open 2015 Serves An Ace With Its Use Of Social Media

Social media and its rise in popularity have completely evolved the sporting industry today. With the growing use of internet on mobile devices and the immediacy of producing and sharing content globally, it’s no wonder sporting teams and athletes are getting on board the social media wagon. It gives sporting organisations the opportunities to reach new markets and develop broader and larger fan bases through live updates, news articles, photos, videos, competitions, events, and the list goes on. To be more specific, let’s have a look at the stats:

  • 80% of fans use social media while they are watching sporting events
  • 20% of fans invite friends to sporting events via social media

The most popular content is accessed via social networks where:

  • 51% follow teams and leagues
  • 46% follow individual players
  • 48% watch video highlights
  • 48% read written articles

Benefits of social media use (within the sporting industry)

There are many reasons as to why each sport should integrate social media into their strategies in order to remain popular with fans and competitive with other sporting teams, and athletes. These include:

  • Increase in brand (team and/or individual athlete) exposure and reach through fans’ growing use of social media
  • Retains fan loyalty through interaction and engagement such as constant updates, competitions, give-aways, video interviews etc.
  • Social media bridges the gap between expensive sporting events (which fans may not be able to afford) and free exposure of social media where fans still feel involved through live updates and scores
  • Promotes awareness of the brand including sporting event dates, ticket sales, information on the team or athlete
  • Promotes products or services of the sporting team or individual where fans can purchase sporting merchandise or experiences such as valet parking and dining before a match – these can be purchased either through social media platforms or the main sporting website and can lead to an increase in revenue

Risks of social media use (within the sporting industry)

As shown above, several advantages exist in the sporting industry’s use of social media, although disadvantages do also exist including:

Negative feedback – any sporting organisation needs to ensure they regulate their use of social media to ensure appropriate messages are being sent out to fans. This includes messages which send out a message which isn’t intended for example Liverpool’s post below:

Liverpool-FC

Although the sporting organisation behind the team claimed to post this tweet to find out who fans thought should be the club’s new manager, it sent out a vibe that Liverpool were that desperate to find a manager, they called on fans for their opinions. Therefore, even though sporting organisations may have a certain message they wish to communicate, another may be interpreted by the audience.

Here is another example, featuring skateboarder Tony Hawk, which demonstrates a disadvantage of social media for the sporting industry in that it can be damaging to a brand image.

tony hawk

Image via @tonyhawk on Instagram

The above post on Instagram displays Tony Hawk riding his skateboard whilst holding on to his daughter without any sort of protective helmet or safety gear on himself or his daughter. This is very damaging to his brand image as it shows he isn’t taking his own or his daughter’s safety very seriously. Hopefully no one got hurt…

Australian Open 2015 success

This brings me to the Australian Open this year and its use of social media in various ways throughout the event which led to the tournament’s highest attendance on record. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram were predominant social media platforms, as well as the official website and phone app which allowed fans and spectators keep up-to-date with the latest results and news. Fans were continuously encouraged to be interactive and get involved through the use of hashtags, selfies, competitions, and interactive stands at Melbourne Park where the event was held. Take a look at my video I made for a university assignment below to see in detail how the Australian Open this year was so successful with its use of social media:

Implications for the sporting industry

So what does all this mean for sporting organisations? What should sport teams and athletes be wary of when using social media? Here are a couple tips and tricks:

Focus on user engagement – make sure fans are constantly being kept engaged through daily updates and interaction such as asking questions and feedback on matches, holding competitions to win merchandise, being given prizes for tweeting about an event or posting a selfie (like how it was done at the Australian Open this year).

Regulate statuses and posts – this is important to ensure that what is put up on social media is relevant and appropriate to the sporting brand and athlete as negative backlash can occur if not careful, which can lead to a damaged brand image. A forward-thinking approach needs to be put into place which is demonstrated by the Football Association which banned players from tweeting 24 hours prior to a match. This was implemented in order to protect players, opposition teams, and related bodies.

With the popularity of social media, it is absolutely essential for sporting organisations to use social media as a marketing tool as they result in numerous benefits (when risks are monitored) for a sporting brand.

I’d love to hear what you think as a sporting fan. Is social media a great marketing tool for sporting organisations to use or should they focus on other marketing strategies? Was the Australian Open successful this year with its use of social media in your eyes? Let me know in the comments below!

#whatisahashtag #whyhashtag #whypeopledodis

Before I wrote this post, I didn’t understand hashtags. I’ve seen it all over social media and the internet, but didn’t see the point of it. Why do people use it? Does it actually have a purpose? Well I did a bit of research, and let’s just say, I’ve learnt it is one clever concept…

According to Urban Dictionary the hashtag is predominantly associated with Twitter, in which case it allows people to post tweets linking to topics, sparking a worldwide, giant conversation. It allows people to also search for or follow discussions by searching a hashtag. #interesting #crazyonlinediscussions Considering the inventor of the hashtag, Chris Messina, sees it as an “accidental” invention, its amazing to think how it has evolved social media (not just Twitter) and created conversations for everyone around the world to join in. #worlwideconversation #accidentalawesomeidea

Although it seems like a clever concept, the idea of the hashtag hasn’t been lucky enough to cop absolutely no negative criticism and feedback from the public. Some are saying the hashtag is harmful in that hashtags associated with a specific event or topic can be overused by tweeters, meaning that for those who want their tweets to be noticed by a wider audience, it ain’t gonna happen. This is because in different cases, for example popular sporting events, hashtags will be used millions of times per second! So your tweet MAY get noticed for a second (literally), then get buried under a truckload of other tweets the next second. #soz Other negative criticisms of the hashtag are that they are ruining the English language. Instead of writing full sentences, we now use hashtags. #lazy #needcake #eatingnutella #mmmm This also gives our posted words on the internet a sense of ambiguity for example in the case of #winning:

Let’s not forget hashtags that can go absolutely wrong. Having words mashed together can lead to being read in a way which they’re not meant to be read, or they can be abbreviated to something completely different and unrelated. A couple of my personal favs #susanalbumparty #nowthatchersdead.

The Australian Open this year used many different hashtags to spark a wide spread conversation relating to Australia’s biggest tennis event of the year, but even they managed to be associated with an interesting hashtag which unfortunately had a double meaning. #AOselfie was used by fans at the Australian Open to post selfies whilst at the tennis on social media platforms. Mistakenly the #AOselfie hashtag could also be interpreted as ‘Adults Only’ selfies, although luckily, due to the heavy flow of traffic during the event, it was only a minority compared to the amount of tennis selfies. #yay #phew #R18+

So there we have it, the hashtag. Let me know what you think, are you a heavy user of the hashtag? Do you understand it? Or do you agree with the negative criticisms? #opinions #lemmeknow #commentsbelow #keepscrolling #enjoyinghastagging #alittletoomuch

Oh, and to finish off, here’s some JT eye candy my fav video on hashtags (the world better not come to this). #enjoy #JTisababe #ifpeopletalklikethis #iwillmovetomars #toodloo

Give Us A Twirl Genie

Back in January when the Australian Open 2015 tournament was in full swing, certain stories and moments captured not just Australia but the world’s attention; one of them being an interview with Eugenie (Genie) Bouchard, currently the world no. 7 and 2014 Wimbledon runner-up. For those who aren’t aware, Canadian (gorgeous) tennis player had just won her second round match, when she was asked to give the audience a ‘twirl’ during her interview, to show off her brightly coloured Nike yellow and pink outfit. Sounds harmless right? Apparently not…

A moment like this became the talk of the entire world soon after, not because people wanted to know where to purchase Genie’s outfit from, but people claimed the question to be ‘sexist’ and hence sparked controversy. It started on Twitter, with people sending outraged tweets based on the interview, claiming that male tennis players wouldn’t be asked to do anything ridiculous like that so why should Genie?

The interview also sparked conversation on platforms such as Facebook as well as articles being published in our local Herald Sun and international publications including the UK’s Daily Mail and Hello! Magazine in Canada. Not only that, but fellow tennis players participating in the tournament were also being asked on their opinion on the incident in their post-match interviews. Players like Maria Sharapova blatantly admitted she didn’t care; “I really have no interest in that, honestly. I’m sure you guys have covered every part of it. You know, I stay away from that.”

So what happened in the end? Channel 7 decided to distance itself from the controversy, claiming the interviewer Ian Cohen actually worked as a broadcaster for Tennis Australia. Eugenie Bouchard herself didn’t kick up too much of a stink, laughing about the whole incident and posting a cartoon picture on Twitter, tweeting “It could have been worse”.

So there you have it, one of the memorable moments of the Australian Open 2015 which became the talk of the world. Social media and the internet have demonstrated, in this case, to be able to create areas of discussion and controversy around the world, from something seeming to be comedic and harmless, to a campaign of sexism against women and discrimination. What if social media and the internet didn’t exist? Would this even have been an issue or would it have been swept under the rug and not been noticed at all? Now that the internet plays such a prominent role in the majority of people’s lives, it allows the people to speak openly and freely about what they wish, being able to express their opinions on what’s important to them and what issues need to be raised, including this blog! Now that’s what I call, the beauty of the internet.

But how about you? Do you feel comfortable expressing your views and opinions on the internet? Would you get involved or consider yourself a bystander? Was asking Genie to ‘give us a twirl’ sexist? Let me know in the comments below!