Wimbledon, The Ashes and The Lions - institutional British sporting events, all running for well over a hundred years, and this year we've been lucky enough to have all three in one summer. But, for marketers, these events have evolved into more than just summer spectacles. They're starting to be looked at from a new, social perspective. Not only are brands tying themselves to these events, but fans are increasingly active via social, voicing their opinions and following their favourites - leading to amplified consumer conversation. It's now the obvious way consumers show support for their teams and it's certainly interesting to see how performance on the pitch can reflect in social prowess.
We wanted to put our theories to the test, and compared the social standings of players and sponsors throughout the tournaments. Before each event, we analysed player and brand popularity and then compared this impact with their sporting success. Performance on the playing field has proven to have a correlation with social media interaction. Perhaps no surprise, Andy Murray, the first British male champion in 77 years, saw his Twitter following increase by 26%, while his Facebook likes increased by 46% - more than any other male player, making him a winner both off and on the pitch. Even more impressive considering he already had over a million followers to start with on both Facebook and Twitter. Ladies champion Marion Bartoli proved to be the most socially successful Wimbledon competitor overall, with an impressive 531% Twitter increase! If we take a look at England's cricket players during The Ashes, Joe Root, widely publicised as 'one to watch,' has already seen a dramatic increase in social followers, with Facebook likes growing by 2,162%, maybe not a coincidence given his 180 runs and two wickets during the Second Test. Man of the Match on the field and on Facebook by all accounts. On the Lions Tour, surprisingly it wasn't the Man of the series, Leigh Halfpenny who saw the biggest boost, but Stuart Hogg the youngest and arguably most versatile member of the squad. He saw his Twitter audience rocket with a 125% increase in followers. However all Lions players with Twitter accounts saw significant rises in followings. The average increase was 36.5 %.
The summer of sport has shown just how big an influence social media has become on society. The trend of consumers using social networks to build their own profiles is nothing new, but it's remarkable to see just how celebrities in general - but in this case sports stars - and their followers across Facebook and Twitter can be impacted by their performance on the pitch. Never before has the public been able to show it's appreciation in such a blatant fashion and it will be interesting to watch how this phenomenon will progress in years to come, as social will likely grow as the channel of choice to express opinions. Long gone are the days where we wrote in how we felt to TV programmes such as Points of View, instead we can take immediately to social and show how we feel.