The use of social and digital media to amplify the fan experience at major sporting events is no longer just a fad.
In fact, these events are now being built with social and digital media at their heart, with administrators recognising that online access and engagement are just as important as the action itself.
Major sponsors of these events 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, I thought it would be worthwhile to look at what the tournament, its sponsors and broadcast partners are doing to enhance the fan experience.
The Australian Open 2013 Social Media Activity Overview
Clearly, a lot of different stakeholder groups have a vested interest in the big tennis tournaments so I thought I’d break this overview in specific groups: The tournament itself, sponsors, players and media.
Official tournament-hosted activity
As you’d expect, a standard hub-and-spoke model is being employed with the main website acting as the hub, including a dedicated fan centre which includes 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 which 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 ones you’d expect including Twitter including the promotion of the official #ausopen hashtag, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.
There’s an official mobile app which covers things like 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 and things like lateststweets and the like are nowhere to be seen.
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 leveraging 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 planning and competitions. 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 which features 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 on which version of his new Tennis shoe he should wear at the Australian open. For the record, he’s wearing the blue ones seen here (left).
Lacoste Tennis has served up an interesting way to give away tickets to the tournament by posting pass codes on Facebook which need to be mentioned to staff in its Melbourne stores.
Head Tennis have also just released a video on YouTube featuring Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova to promote the new Graphene racquet. While it has steadily added views in the first 24 hours since launch, it isn’t (in my opinion) the best piece of branded content you’ll ever see but Novak is likeable enough to ease the pain.
You can expect to see a lot more sponsor activation 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 featuring the top players by Justin Gould.
If you’re looking for a ‘traditional’ tennis reporter who uses Twitter really well then 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, then the tennis channel on FlipBoard is a great option.