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Why Twitter is a sports fan's friend

01 February, 2013 - Source: Kindred

Charity Knight



Last week was an exciting one for British tennis fans as Andy Murray played his first Grand Slam final since winning the US Open. But there was one problem - the tournament was in Australia which meant the majority of matches started at 3am GMT. How were we going to keep track?!


Fortunately for me, I survived thanks to the inspirational genius of the Australian Open hashtag (#AusOpen). In fact I wouldn’t have survived any tennis tournament or the Olympics without the now obligatory live hashtag that accompanies any modern day sporting event.


Not only does the sports hashtag give you great tidbits such as: ‘It's only a matter of time until Djokovic's shoes sue Channel Seven for defamation. #ausopen’, it also takes over from live blogging by news providers such as the BBC, giving you better, more titillating information faster.


Being great for sports fanatics isn’t all the sports hashtag is good for, but it also provides great PR for the tournament and in this case, the ATP World Tour brand.


During 2013’s Australian Open, the website offered a Social Leaderboard which uses IBM analytics to track Twitter posts commenting on the tournament and players.  From this tool we know some of the more prominent conversations during the tournament were surrounding Federer’s pink Nike shoes, Serena’s latest hair style, Murray’s blister in the final and Djokivic’s squeaky silver trainers.


It also shows positive and negative sentiment, and the number of tweets about each player, ranking each by their social klout. A prime example being Sloane Stephens whose Twitter followers doubled from 17,000 to 34,000 in 24 hours, after beating Serena Williams in the quarter finals.


Thanks to IBM’s analysis, the Social Leaderboard became an interesting analytical tool for the tournament organisers and the ATP World Tour brand. It tracked trends to give them a better understanding of the social and sentimental dynamics motivating Grand Slam tennis, inspiring other tournaments like the Six Nations to follow suit.


Top 5 players on the Social Leaderboard:


1.    #Murray - Andy Murray - 81% positive sentiment and 1,028,341 tweets

2.    #novak - Novak Djokovic – 87% posistive sentiment and 974,146 tweets

3.    #serena – Serena Williams – 72% positive sentiment – 608,282 tweets

4.    #federer – Roger Federer – 84% positive sentiment – 549,620 tweets

5.    #nicolasalmagro - Nicolas Almagro – 76% positive sentiment – 536,584 tweets


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