I’ve always been of the (ahem, strong) opinion that if you’re involved in marketing a sport or major sporting event, then whatever you’re currently doing in terms of social media and the web – DOUBLE IT!
Sport – being in smack-bang in a high-interest category when it comes to consumers – involves emotion and committed (nutty?) fans; buzz abounds, everyone has an opinion, conversations are aplenty.
The goal is to facilitate, harness and get involved authentically in those conversations. You can’t do that with advertising or naff promotions.
What a fabulous opportunity to encourage people to get involved with your sport or event and help build invaluable word-of-mouth rather than spend too much of your budget on crappy outdated advertising techniques.
Thus it gladdens my heart to see the organisers of the 2012 Australian Tennis Open – which kicks off tomorrow – harnessing the tremendous potential available to them in terms of fan engagement and the social web.
Centrepiece of their digital efforts is the event’s online ‘Fan Centre’ featuring its soon-to-be-launched ‘Fan Centre Social Leaderboard’.
The Social Leaderboard is breathtaking in its simplicity.
When you tweet about a player or ‘like’ them, you increase their social ranking helping them rise up the Fan Centre Social Leaderboard. Every mention and ‘like’ counts.
Organisers urge fans to “get behind your favourite player and help them reach the top”. I bet the fans will engage in droves!
Other digital initiatives include:
- Twitter account @PopcornTennis – “daily bite-sized rundown of all that’s fun and frivolous at the Australian Open 2012″ – cool sideline tactic.
- Australian Open Vault – people can check out their fave classic matches and share with friends via social networks – repurposing old content and reinforcing the event’s heritage, awesome.
- Australian Open official program 2012 free iPad app - a must-have these days, will prove popular.
- Australian Open TV – all the latest video and radio clips covering the event – real-time on-demand content perfect for today’s time-poor digital consumer.
According to this report on Mashable:
“We’re concentrating more than ever on engaging socially with our fans,” Daniel Lattimer, who works on the digital team for the event, told Mashable. “We were the first Grand Slam on Twitter, and engagement has been going up there and on Facebook, so it’s important to provide people with that complement to the actual watching of the tennis during the tournament.”
Could the organisers of the Australian Open ‘double’ their social efforts as I so often encourage sports marketers to do?
Well, you can always do more of course – i.e. media-friendly interactive and socialised online newsroom, aggregated tweet stream from the players’ accounts, engagement with bloggers rather than just mainstream journos (not sure if this was done) – but from where I sit the Oz Open people have done a mighty fine job in coming up with creative ideas for engaging consumers, integrating the digital elements and making it all about the fans rather than simply pumping out stuff willy-nilly via Twitter and Facebook.
Hopefully the marketing and PR folk of Australia’s other big ticket sporting events are taking notice!
Rafael Nadal Press Conference ~ PIC: Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia