Next week sees the start of the first major tennis event since Andy Murray’s famous win at Flushing Meadows last September. The Australians have always proved to be very good when it comes to utilising social media for their events and this year looks like they are doing it again.
Here we’re going to be taking a look at what they are doing and also what they are doing to help publicise the initiatives. They now have multiple channels going including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and Foursquare (wow!) as well as having mobile apps for iPhone, Android and iPad. Community managing all those pages and producing unique content will a tough task for sure.
So lets start at the main hub of activity, the website. People will be flocking to AustralianOpen.com for results, news and lives scores over the next couple of weeks as Murray, Djokovic, Federer, Williams and Sharapova take to the arena. The different channels are not too obvious at first glance on the homepage, the main plug being the official hashtag #AusOpen as they look to make conversations trackable in a unifiable way.
The main area for their social activity is the Fan Centre. Here are explanations and links to all the main hubs of activity. It’s a simple destination which gives fans access to all the information they could need to follow the competition in different ways.
This is a very new feature and one which will be very interesting to keep an eye on. Starting on Monday they will be running a leaderboard of all the players in the Open. Every time you tweet about a player or ‘like’ something written about them on this site, their ranking improves. This gives a great opportunity (and reason) for fans to get behind their favourite player and interact with content about them on the site. Not sure what software they are using to monitor it and how often the table will be updated. Will be a separate article on this once it is up and running (and I can find out more info).
As well as running an official hashtag, something clubs and events should be doing to help fans, they have two official Twitter accounts; @AustralianOpen and @AOSOS. The first is the main account which you keep in touch about news and results. The second is more interesting for me as it is a dedicated customer service channel for any event information. Again is very simple and enables their team to pick out the relevant tweets and reply to them quickly. Fans can also use the #AOSOS hashtag to get the same service.
A more visual approach with pictures of players training, behind-the-scenes imagery and links to videos. They’ve built up a fanbase of almost 800k since its launch in 2008 and certainly gives a different perspective from other channels of the event. It is a more unofficial, relaxed look which is less about results and more about personality.
Slightly different imagery is used here and there is more of a concentration on videos as well. It can be very hard to come up with a content plan that covers so many different channels whilst giving a unique experience on each. Many go with regurgitating the same content across all to the greatest ‘reach’. But at the same time you need to people different reasons for visiting each. The Australian Open team seem to be doing just that and with 63k+ fans they have a good audience base as well.
This platform has gone a little quite over the last few months as the clamour for geo-location apps appears to have calmed down. I for one have not used it in a long time now as the benefits to the user have yet to be seen. At the Aus Open they have identified it as a platform to help people make the most of the event area and be more of a guide. People do leave tips on there for others to pick up and this could be very useful for those who are there for the day.
A new platform for them and not many followers of the account at the moment (just over 300). Currently it cover more iconic photographs from last years event and a few archive images as well. be interesting to see how they use the platform and what benefit they derive from it. So far it has mainly been fashion brands who have found it good at driving ecommerce sales and Liverpool and AS Roma have been two football clubs to see its potential.
With so much video content coming out of the event aYouTube channel is almost a must. They run Australian Open TV through the website and this does a good job of backing that up. Already there are highlights of some of the qualifying games which have been running throughout this week and some behind-the-scenes promo videos. Will be a good page to keep an eye out for if you love your tennis.
They are running apps for both iPhone and Android as well as having a mobile enabled website so that fans to keep abreast of the latest happening wherever they are. As was proved at the London 2012 Olympics, mobile is proving to be the biggest generator of online visits around events. This will be from people going to the event and also those who are at work or travelling and dont have access to their laptop or PC.
This could be covered under mobile but I thought it deserved its own section. Some may see the decision by the organisers just to offer special apps for iPad and not any of the other tablet devices, especially as there are so many options out there nowadays. The image below gives more information on what they offer.
They are offering fans and commentators access to so much information that few have been left out. There is a great mix of imagery, video and text. There is a great variety in the mobile offering and they are testing new platforms as they come out (interesting that still no Tumblr page though – very visual).
They also have the ‘Popcorn Tennis Blog‘ which is a live blog which will be running throughout the event. Liveblogging has taken off with more conferences and events running them, giving more analysis then you will get from Twitter or Facebook.