I am a big fan of the tennis. I go to the Australian Open every year and over the years I have been keeping a close eye on the evolving use of social media at the event.
Check out the following posts for a more rounded view on how the Australian Open has used social media to further promote engagement around the event over the years.

Social Media Usage At The Australian Open 2014

The biggest change in social media usage at The Australian Open 2014 was definitely the increased use of Hashtags by both the Australian Open (#AusOpen) event itself, as well as the event sponsors.

AusOpen Hashtag Loren Bartley

#AusOpen Hashtag

Hashtags are a way of grouping social media conversations around a particular event of topic. By getting people to use your Hashtag in their on-line conversations, you have a greater chance of driving more exposure of your brand and ultimately driving more traffic to your business. This is possible as people can click on the hyperlink that a Hashtag creates within the posts they see within their social media platform of choice and then they can see all of the other posts that have been created using that same Hashtag.
AusOpen SocialShack Hashtags Twitter Instagram SignIf you visited Garden Square at the Australian Open 2014 you couldn’t miss the giant #AusOpen hashtag and all the people that were getting their photo taken in, on, under and around it. There were some signs nearby encouraging people to impersonate their favourite player and share it on Twitter or Instagram using the #SocialShack hashtag for a chance to win in daily prizes and a grand prize of two tickets to the men’s final. However, this campaign is not what I would’ve called a huge success. One week into the tournament, there were only 66 photos uploaded to Instagram using the #socialshack hashtag and of them only 3 people appeared to be doing anything that resembled an impersonation of a tennis player. However, there was a steady stream of images being uploaded to Instagram of people at this giant hashtag, using the #AusOpen hashtag in their post, but no reference to the #SocialShack one.
During my visit to the #SocialShack, none of the staff explained nor encouraged me to participate in the #SocialShack tennis impersonation competition, nor did they hand me any promotional material that I could’ve taken away with me and digested whilst sitting around watching the tennis. To me, that was a lost opportunity. Better promotion of this engagement opportunity (i.e. not just one sign stuck to a nearby tree) ,as well as less barriers to entry (such as having to impersonate your favourite player) would’ve created in much greater result.
AusOpen Connect With usAs well as promoting the #AusOpen hashtag, the various social media platforms of the event were also being promoted at the #SocialShack. The image below shows the signage on the outside of the #SocialShack, with similar promotions within. Whilst this was great, there didn’t seem to be much promotion of the #AusOpen hashtag and the Australian Open’s social media channels throughout the rest of the venue and there was no promotion of these at all on centre court, with the exception of one brief reference to the Australian Open YouTube channel that I saw at one stage on the big screen.

Sponsors Hashtags & Promotions

The sponsor of the Australian Open were getting in on the use of Hashtags at the event also. Medibank used this opportunity to further promote their #GenBetter campaign, which they have been doing a great job of cross-promoting on various types of media including print, radio and television for some months now.
AusOpen Medibank GenBetter Hashtag
IBM created a tennis specific promotional opportunity, allowing visitors to their promotional tent the opportunity to have a shot at returning a live serve in their 3D virtual Rod Laver Arena. Their key message was “In sport and business data is a game changer” and they used the Hashtag #IBMReturnServe to generate buzz around this activity and ultimately their business. However, a search of this Hashtag on Twitter and Instagram provides very few posts that aren’t from the organisers of this promotion or their aligned businesses.
AusOpen IBMReturnServe Hashtag
usOpen kiagreatest fan hashtagKia was conducting a #KIAGreatestFan competition as part of the Australian Open. To enter into this competition you visit the kiagreatestfan.com website, upload a photo or link to your YouTube video, enter your name, email and title (e.g. I’m the Greatest Fan) and then choose the category you wish to enter (i.e. chants, dress-ups, at the AO, watching, international or group), agree to the terms, decide whether or not you wish to receive further offers and then submit.

Join the excitement and show us why you are the Kia Greatest Fan, chosen by world No.1 Rafael Nadal. Demonstrate your dedication for the Australian Open via video or photo entry to win an iPad each day during tournament. From these daily winners, Rafael Nadal will choose his favourite to receive the ultimate prize of a Kia Soul.

If you were at the event you could participate in a variety of activities to enter into this competition, such as create a video inside the vehicles they had on display or dress up and get your photo taken in their photo booth. I got my photo taken in the photo booth, but left unsure as what to do next, as I wasn’t given any instructions on how to enter the competition. In fact, I didn’t even realise I could enter until I did further investigation once I returned home from the event.
AusOpen kiagreatest fan hashtag photo

Facebook Check-ins, Likes & Tags

Australian Open Mount Franklin Facebook Page PhotosIt seemed that everyone wanted to encourage Facebook Check-in’s in 2013, but Hashtags was the much stronger call to action of 2014. This is no doubt due to the integration of Hashtags across most social media platforms these days, most likely combined with the decreased organic reach that check-in’s seem to provide these days. Having said that, check-in’s were still encouraged by some. Mount Franklin chose to promote Facebook check-in’s via signs at the entry to their Water Dome.
In addition to this, Mount Franklin used a fan-gated Facebook App to encourage people to Like their Facebook Page to gain access to the photos they took of them at the event, providing a code to assist people in finding their photo on their Facebook Page once uploaded. Via this app, fans were also encouraged to tag themselves in the image, but no incentive was offered to do so. This seemed a little one sided from Mount Franklin. I am not sure that people would find the photos being taken interesting enough to warrant a Page Like and a Tag. This seemed evidenced by the few photo likes, comments, shares and tags that appeared alongside the photos as I scrolled back through images uploaded from previous days.
The #SocialShack was also encouraging people to check-in at the event, via a large button that people could push to “record your visit to the Social Shack” on a counter, but this didn’t actually have any connection to a real life social check-in, so I really question the value of this.

AusOpen Facebook Check-in


AusOpen Twitter
Despite a lack of engagement around the use of several of the Hashtags and promotions being conducted as part of the Australian Open, there was definitely still a lot of social activity going on around the event itself. At the time of writing, Ana Ivanovic’s sensational upset over world No.1 Serena Williams created a record volume of tweeting, posting and chatter in the Australian Open’s social history. A total of 123,000 tweets were made during the match, peaking at 7232 tweets per minute at the conclusion of the match.
The result tweeted out on the official Australian Open Twitter account @australianopen was tweeted a record number of times (in excess of 2,500 times in less than 4hrs).


Australian Open 2014: Social Media Lessons Learnt

There is a lot of social media usage at The Australian Open 2014. However, the use of associated Hashtags and participation in some of the social competitions being conducted seems low in comparison to this level of social media usage in some cases. This is likely due to the following reasons:

  • Hashtags are still a relatively new phenomenon for many – Therefore, education around their usage and enticement to use them is necessary to encourage more people to include your Hashtag in their social sharing.
  • Promotion of Hashtags – It’s not enough to just put up a sign or even giant 3D version of your Hashtag and expect it to be used. You need to extensively promote your Hashtag #EVERYWHERE. That includes getting your staff to explain to people what it is, how they should use it and why they should use it (see above point). Your Hashtag should be promoted in all corners of your event, rather than in one concentrated area.
  • Incentive for people to incorporate Hashtags – We live in a WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) culture these days. Therefore you will get a greater result if you provide an incentive for people to do so. That incentive needs to be relevant, significant and relatively easy to access for your ideal customer.
  • Ease of entering competitions – If you are going to conduct a competition, make sure that you make it as easy as possible to enter. Where possible, get them to enter on-the-spot.

This is not an exhaustive review of social media usage at The Australian Open 2014, but rather one person’s opinions based on a day-long visit to the event. No doubt each person’s experience as either a patron, at home spectator or social media follower would vary. If you had a differing experience of social media usage at The Australian Open 2014, then please share your experience in the comments below.