Wimbledon engagement grew by nearly 100% across Instagram in 2018 despite the World Cup
Since its establishment in 1877, Wimbledon has become the most respected and coveted tennis championship in the world with players dreaming of lifting the pineapple topped trophy and fans flocking to SW19 each year to catch a glimpse of the tennis elite in action. The competition has enthralled audiences with rivalries such as Borg/McEnroe, Federer/Nadal and in recent years home fans have been rewarded for years of pain, with Andy Murray’s two victories on the grass.
With tennis competitions bringing out passionate fans, our analyst team here at fiacuity were intrigued to know just how loyal these fans would be in 2018, with football’s World Cup taking place concurrently with The Championships. Would this lead to less engaged fans than 2017 or would Wimbledon’s social strategy be clever enough to find a solution to this. Primarily our analysts wanted to take a look at Instagram, a platform for is brilliant for evoking emotion and passion, as well as allowing fans to engage quickly whether they are at the grounds or watching at home.
How successful was Wimbledon on Instagram in 2018?
Wimbledon has successfully used Instagram over the last few years as a method of connecting with fans on a more emotional level. Instagram is built around pictures and videos which arguably evoke sentiment more easily than words and the tournament has taken advantage of this exceptionally well. What is most impressive, however, has been the success they’ve seen this year in spite of competition for attention from the World Cup. The account @wimbledon has seen a huge increase in engagements from fans suggesting that the social media strategy employed has paid dividends.
In 2017, the Instagram account posted 240 times and received 6.5 million likes and yet, in a World Cup year they posted 120 times more and increased their ‘Like-growth’ by nearly 100%. For a platform like Instagram it’s important to constantly remain relevant and therefore constantly posting about the event is vitally important hence why Wimbledon increased there overall posts by 50%. In could be argued that with a more competitive field in 2018, the media team sought to increase their output as a method to ensure their message was been seen by their Instagram audience. In fact, the Wimbledon account posted 270 more posts from 2-15 July than the Official FIFA World Cup account to ensure relevancy and their position in the social conciousness.
Furthermore, there was also a focus put upon the iconic players who were competing this season which generates more interactions from their fans. For example, despite exiting the competition at the Quarter Final stage, Roger Federer received over 9% of all posts on @wimbledon and consequently generated nearly 12% of the likes. Djokovic received the most likes, with 2.4 million most likely due to his success as well as a particular special family moment and an epic 5 setter with Rafa Nadal, who was the second most popular player at this year’s competition.
Outside of Centre Court, Wimbledon also used their account to promote the ‘Culture of Wimbledon’. This is the most prestigious Grand Slam in tennis and one of the most talked about events in the sporting calendar and therefore in a year where Britain didn’t have Andy Murray there was a huge focus placed upon the glamour of the club with a number of posts about the celebrities such as Drake and Benedict Cumberbatch attending the event as well the royal family. In fact the most popular post from the two weeks was Emma Watson taking her seat in SW19 along with a witty tagline, which reached 206,000 likes. This far surpassed last year’s most popular post which reached 127,000. Combining tennis and sophistication enables Wimbledon to transcend an average tennis competition and become a fashion event, or a royal engagement, which allows for audiences with different interests to become engaged and assimilated.
The account has also enjoyed success from posting videos about other great British traditions, such as Pimm’s in the summer, Strawberries & Cream as well as a beautifully scenic photos of the sun setting behind the London Skyline. Wimbledon seeks to celebrate everything great about Britain and London in order to distinguish itself from other sporting events and by combining these factors they have ensured that in 2018, with the World Cup being played simultaneously, Wimbledon was able to not only maintain his fan engagement across Instagram but dramatically improve it, which is a wonderful achievement.
What themes can we see across the whole of social media?
Primarily, there appears to be a gender bias across social media in terms of players’ popularity. As discussed, on Instagram the most popular players were Djokovic, Nadal & Federer with Williams & Kerber following them. Interestingly across the female players Williams and Kerber received far more posts than the joint third most featured women, Venus Williams, Katskina, Ostapenko & Cibulkova (all 4). One could argue that this is due to them both being finalists, however in the men’s game Kevin Anderson still received 17 featured posts. Therefore it is likely that it unexpected nature of the first week of Wimbledon, in which many of the top seeded female players contributed to @wimbledon not necessarily knowing which underdog’s journey to follow and therefore tracked all of the potential second week competitors leading to a dispersion of posts across players.
However whilst the male players received the most love on Instagram, the Women’s game saw their popularity on the rise on Twitter & Facebook. Across Twitter, the most liked tweet of the two weeks was Serena Williams’ post final interview and her motivation for competing, whilst on Facebook the top two most viewed content was the congratulatory post to Kerber on her win which was viewed 8.4m and content on ‘Ladies Day (4.6m). Furthermore, Kerber’s win was also the most liked post on Facebook with 320,000 people interacting with it in this manner.
Moreover, this year will have also seen fans interact positively with heartfelt and family oriented posts. Serena’s post match interview revolved around her desire to play at Wimbledon for mothers everywhere: ‘To all the moms out there, I was playing out there for you today and I tried’. This received a rousing reception on court and across the Wimbledon twitter account. The second most popular tweet on @Wimbledon was then Novak Djokovic’s post match final interview where spoke with joy about his son’s support court-side. This reached 35k likes on Twitter, 201k on Instagram and was the most shared post from the official Wimbledon Facebook page with 17k. Across Facebook, Novak also reached 7.4m views from two father-son related videos thus supporting the idea that family has played a big part in engaging fans who are able to easily relate to this content, more so than a world class backhand.
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