Social Media, the Star of this Year’s Wimbledon
This is a guest post by Spencer Blohm. If you’d like to contribute to Tennis Buzz as a writer or a photographer, please contact us.
Following Andy Murray’s triumph last year at Wimbledon, much of the world has their eye on him, hoping that he will provide an encore performance this year. So far, so good, as he’s reached the quarterfinals following his victory against Kevin Anderson on Monday. It’s just the latest in the four matches he’s won so far at Wimbledon. Murray, for one, isn’t one to compare his current performance to his victorious run last year, telling The Guardian “I don’t really look back and compare,” which might be the best policy to avoid psyching himself out.
The rest of the world though, is following Murray with anticipation. Following his win last year, Twitter is buzzing whenever he plays. As you can see from this graph from social media tracker Topsy, every day Murray plays, mentions of his name skyrocket on Twitter.
One of Murray’s sponsors, adidas, is looking to follow up their success on Twitter last year with their hashtag #AndyMurray, which got 30,000 mentions during the final match which Murray won. This year adidas is promoting Murray on their main Twitter account as well as the accounts they have for adidas Tennis and adidas UK.
Of course, it isn’t only Murray and his sponsors who are using social media to their advantage during the tournament. This year is arguably the year of social media at the stories tennis tournament. Wimbledon, for the first time ever, will feature user generated content on the screens on Henman Hill, which they hope will encourage interaction from both fans at the event, and those watching from home. They have been using this social media interaction during the television broadcasts of the tournament to encourage even more interaction with the approximately 378.8 million people in 198 territories that tune into to the tournament.
All of this is being powered at the “Social Command Centre” which is run by IBM SoftLayer. At the Command Centre, they’re tracking trending topics, hashtags, where the tweets are coming from, and which courts are getting to most mentions. That being said, there’s a focused effort to keep tennis first, and to not let the increase of social media and online interaction overshadow the main event and players. Content and communications manager for Wimbledon, Alexandra Willis, told the Telegraph,
“We at Wimbledon wouldn’t want to put screens around Centre Court, displaying tweets and doing that sort of thing, because when someone is on Centre Court it’s sacred ground, and they are there to watch the tennis”
Beyond the social media aspect, live streaming will play an important part of watching this years tournament. While cable and media companies like BBC in England, ESPN, and DirecTV in the States have comprehensive coverage on television, they’ve all started to feature online streaming on their websites for the less high profile matches. Of course, there is always a connectivity issue that comes with live streaming so you can try here to learn more about the Wimbledon mix that DirecTV is offering for tournament coverage, and ESPN is also showing extensive Wimbledon coverage in HD for those who have that channel. Of course, you can always go straight to the source, the Wimbledon official website that is, for more in depth analysis and live streaming if you’re a true tennis buff.
It’s worth noting that, as of right now, Murray isn’t the social media king of the tournament, that honor actually goes to Roger Federer. The Wimbledon Social Command Centre reported to The Standard that so far during this tournament, Federer has the top influencer slot at the tournament which they calculated “using factors such as response times to his activity on Twitter, mentions and following.”
Perhaps that’s because he’s one of the few top competitors able to stay in play on the game-changing grass courts at Wimbledon – after all, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and now Rafael Nadal have all been eliminated! We’ll have to stay tuned to see if his two competitors in social media influence (Murray and Novak Djokovic in second and third respectively) can beat him online, or more importantly, on the court.
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