Aussie Open Serves Up Social Media Aces

Australian Open TennisThis past weekend, social media mentions for the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the 2014 tennis calendar hit a record high. What was going on? Well, Ana Ivanovic upset world number 1 Serena Williams in the fourth round of the tournament, that’s what. The match drew a total of 123,000 tweets during the match, and peaked at 7232 tweets per minute at the conclusion.

Even the players & commentators got in on the act:

Here’s what Ana Ivanovic had to say after the match:

As more professional athletes get on to social media, we fans enjoy connecting with them and interacting with them. It offers us a rare glimpse into their world.

Professional tennis players are no different, with everyone from the top players to newly-minted pros tweeting and instagramming to their hearts’ content. Rafael Nadal has over 5.6 million followers, Serena Williams has over 4 million, while Twitter newbies Ana Ivanovic and Genie Bouchard continue to gain fans with their great play and messages.

Tennis is Getting More Social

And it appears that we tennis fans are tweeting to them and about them at an increasing rate too. This is why in 2013, IBM partnered with the Australian Open, and created the expanded Social Leaderboard. “We’re kind of tapping into people’s competitiveness as fans as well as their love for the players,” said Kim Trengrove, the digital manager for Tennis Australia, told Mashable. They were one of the first Grand Slam tournaments on Twitter, and have expanded that every year.

This year they’ve enhanced the Leaderboard to show more stats, like sentiment. Users can drill down by player and day, mentions or sentiment. It’s an interesting use of data, or “datatainment”, as it’s being called. They’re really opening their social media data banks for their Twitter account, and are giving fans some great information to look at on the Social Leaderboard.

Check out the daily movers and shakers, see how fans think about them by looking at the positive and negative sentiment tracker, and of course track the overall number of tweets. It’s really impressive to see what they’re able to do with the data provided by IBM. Check out the full Twitter stats from the 2013 Australian Open here.

Breaking Social Media Records

The weekend’s explosion on Twitter wasn’t the first time that the tournament has broken a few records: the official Australian Open Twitter account @australianopen was retweeted 1906 times by the time Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal finished their 5 hour, 53 minute men’s singles final in 2012.

“The ability to engage with players, celebrities and millions of tennis fans around the world has seen this tournament break all sorts of records on Twitter,” said Twitter representative, Jonno Simpson.

While they might only be tracking tweets, the AO is fully versed in the social media world, having accounts on all the major platforms. They’ve even created the Social Shack, where players come for interviews. The interviews are conducted in-person, but the questions come from the crowd at the park, and also online. It’s fun to see how they react to all the questions.

  • Their regular YouTube channel provides interviews both before the tournament and also after their wins or losses.
  • Their Instagram account is also great, providing behind the scenes photos of the tournament. Not many people know what goes on just before a player comes out onto the court, or when they’re practicing.

So, what do you think, is the Australian Open winning on social media? I certainly think so. Hit the comments and let me know.