The use of social and digital media to amplify the fan experience at major sporting events is no fad.
In fact, these events are now built with social and digital media at their heart, as administrators recognize that online access and engagement are just as important as the event itself.
Major sponsors are also getting in on the act, extending their reach beyond traditional signage and advertising with campaigns that live across multiple channels.
So, as the sporting world turns its attention to the first tennis grand slam of 2013, the Australian Open
, let’s look at what the tournament and its sponsors, as well as players and media have done to enhance the fan experience.
Official tournament-hosted activity
The main website
acts as the hub. The site includes a dedicated fan center
that features a social leader board, which tracks the social mentions and fan popularity of the players in the main draw.
One of the nicest sections of the site is the Popcorn Tennis Live Blog
. It provides a real-time look at what is happening in and around Melbourne Park in a little more depth that you'd get on Twitter or Facebook.
As far as social channels go, the tournament is represented on all the major social networks you'd expect including Twitter
(and the official #ausopen
, and, Pinterest
There's an official mobile app
that covers topics such as live scores and schedules, but comes up short in terms of social integration. For example, the photos section features professional shots only as opposed to an Instagram feed. If you're looking for a good example of a socially shaped mobile app in the sports space, check out the LA Clippers (NBA) mobile app
The official tournament sponsors and related suppliers are all using their properties in varying ways to generate traction.
Major sponsor Kia is using its partnership with the tournament in a number of places, but particularly on Facebook
and via a dedicated mobile app.
Kia's activity on Facebook features a combination of tailored content and competitions. For instance, the “Tennis Ball Hunt” mobile app calls on people to locate and scan the KIA Ball Hunt logo in TV ads, at dealerships, and on the ground at the tournament to unlock an entry form to win a car.
Wine brand Jacob's Creek has teamed up with Andre Agassi to deliver the Open Film Series
on YouTube, featuring insights from Agassi about the sport and the character defining moments of his career.
Nike Tennis has been asking its Facebook community to help Roger Federer
decide which version of his new Tennis shoe he should wear at the Australian open.
Tennis has served up an interesting way to give away tickets to the tournament by posting pass codes on Facebook
that need to be mentioned to staff in its Melbourne stores.
Head Tennis also released a video on YouTube featuring Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova
to promote the new Graphene racquet. It steadily added views in the first 24 hours since launch, but it isn't the best piece of branded content. Novak is likeable enough to ease the pain, though.
You can expect to see a lot more sponsor activity on social media throughout the tournament.
Players and media outlets
Most of the big names are active on the major social channels, especially on Twitter. Instead of following each of them individually, check out some of the already-curated lists on Listorious
, including this great one
by Justin Gould featuring the top players.
If you're looking for a “traditional” tennis reporter who uses Twitter well, check out Ben Rothenberg
of The New York Times
As far as blogs go, The Slice
is worth a look.
If you're after a tailored experience on your mobile, the tennis channel on FlipBoard is a great option.