Social media activity: a comparison of two top tier tennis tournaments
This article analyses the social media activity of two top tier tennis tournaments, the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open. Both USA hard court tennis tournaments held over two weeks in March. Social media data was collected weekly between 22/02/2016 and 11/04/2016. Six different social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google+ and Vine – were analysed.
The BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open use multiple social media platforms. Snapchat and Periscope are just the latest platforms adopted to engage and communicate with tennis fans throughout the year. A difficult task as the tournaments only last two weeks. The international (social) media attention is brief. Two weeks before the event, during the event and maybe a week after the event has ended, before attention fades away.
Does this have an effect on the social media activity surrounding these sports events? And how do similar sports events like the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open compare to one another across multiple social media platforms?
The digital fan base
The BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open social media numbers are far below their Grand Slam counterparts. Both tournaments only have 1/7 of the 1.4 million Facebook Likes of the US Open (retrieved on 11/04/2016).
The BNP Paribas Open has a bigger social reach compared to the Miami Open. It has more digital fans on all channels except Facebook. The tournaments reach a similar number of fans on most platforms. The biggest difference is seen on YouTube and Google+. The Miami Open has a low following on these platforms (see top article).
Similar rising trend
Both tournaments followed a similar rising trend in the number of digital fans from two weeks before their own event (T–2) to one week after their event (T+1). In the week following the events there was a stagnation (or even decrease) in the number of Facebook (see figure 1) and Twitter fans. Instagram did not have such an obvious stagnation.
A higher increase in the number of followers during the event is expected. Organisers have fans’ attention during the event. Fans want to consume information, engage and be kept up-to-date. Following social media accounts is one of the easiest ways to realise this.
A significant difference
The BNP Paribas Open has a far bigger reach on YouTube and Google+ compared to the Miami Open. The Miami Open has less than 500 YouTube Subscribers (around 8,500 for the BNP Paribas Open) and less than 50 Google+ followers (over 28,000 for the BNP Paribas Open). A significant difference, while the numbers of the other platforms are more alike.
The Miami Open started using YouTube in 2014. Having started in 2009, the BNP Paribas Open has had more time to build their digital fan base on this platform.
In contrast, both tournaments started using Facebook and Twitter in 2009. Leading to similar sized digital fan bases on these platforms. Early adaptation of new social media platforms can thus be beneficial.
Aside from a different starting point, the significant difference in Google+ followers might be due to a different approach to the platform. The Miami Open only posts YouTube videos on Google+. The BNP Paribas Open occasionally shares other updates as well.
Both tournaments increased the number of YouTube Subscribers during the tournament. The BNP Paribas Open increased the number of subscribers and views more in absolute terms. The Miami Open had a bigger gain relative to where they begun.
The number of YouTube Views increased most in the second tournament week and in the week following the event. Fresh content from the first tournament week likely caused this. A video summary of the tournament and the final press conferences were in particular popular on the BNP Paribas Open account.
There were only 16 Vines posted during the observed period. The BNP Paribas Open only posted two Vines, both before the tournament. The Miami Open posted four Vines in the first tournament week and ten in the second week.
Neither tournament had a major increase in the number of Vine followers. However, the Miami Open’s 14 Vines resulted in a 74% increase in number of Vine Loops (see figure 2). The BNP Paribas Open could have done more with this platform. The Miami Open shows that sharing Vines during the tournament can significantly impact the number of Loops.
Social Media Activity
In the two weeks before the event, the Miami Open was more active on Facebook (86 posts in two weeks vs. 59 for the BNP Paribas Open) and Twitter (168 posts in two weeks vs. 101). During the event, the BNP Paribas Open shared more on these platforms.
The huge spike in social media activity during the tournaments was no surprise (see figure 3). New content is available and fans expect to be kept up-to-date. However, the drop in activity in the week following the events was a surprise. Hardly any Tweet, Vine or Facebook post was shared.
The post-event social media strategy
The social media activity increases in the weeks leading up to an event to get fans excited. It is expected that the number of followers will not increase as much after a tournament as it did during or before. The data showed this is the case on most platforms. YouTube and Instagram were exceptions for the BNP Parisbas Open and to a lesser extend the Miami Open.
No major drops in social media followers after the events ended, is reason to believe that the window of effective communication is still open. So it is a perfect opportunity to engage and retain fans. An opportunity the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open could have exploited more.
– The data was retrieved weekly in the mentioned period from the six official social media platforms of each tournament.