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Social Media Shakes up Key Sports Events in 2011

This blog is fully dedicated to covering the shift in consumption of sport (and therefore the way athletes, sports organizations, and sponsors choose to interact with their audiences). Globalization, digitalization, and individualization are changing our lives – and they’re doing it fast!

The shift towards global – social – sports consumption is no longer ‘a hypothetic possibility’ of something that might happen somewhere in a distant future. The key sports events in the first half of 2011 clearly show that this revolution has by now taken place. The impact and the implications of this seismographic shift are still shaking up sports professionals around the planet.

The social media impact of Super Bowl XLV, the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final, NBA Finals and FIFA Women’s world Cup have been extensively covered on the web and each of these key events broke records or set social media firsts. It’s about time for a quick Sports Networker review. Here’s an overview of some key facts & figures and some links to the great blog posts that you might have missed:

 Super Bowl XLV

February 6, 2011

 With over 200,000 Foursquare Super Bowl Sunday check-ins, Super Bowl XLV became their most checked into ‘venue’ ever (and the largest online check-in event of all time!). Along with Super Bowl specific badges, fans received a special promotional code for a 20% discount on select NFL merchandise. More information in this article on the Foursquare blog.

Twitter announced a new record too. During the final moments of the Super Bowl, fans sent 4,064 TPS (Tweets Per Second) – at that time the highest TPS for any sporting event, shattering the 3,283 TPS sent during Japan’s 3-1 victory over Denmark during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In fact, Twitter users surpassed that number six times during the course of Super Sunday.

Google’s blog published a cool post by Jim Laudon and Andrew Moore on the search behavior of football fans. If you always wanted to know what fans are looking for before, during and following Super Sunday, this information is now only one click away.

Advertisers are also becoming increasingly skilled at playing the social media field. According to an interesting post by @donaldnosek on on ‘The impact of Super Bowl ads on Social Media, Volkswagen’s Little Darth Vader commercial  had 20+ million views on YouTube, 18,250+ comments, and nearly 100,000 ratings (98% likes), within 36 hours(!) of originally airing the ad (by now it has well over 40 million views).

 The UEFA Champions League Final

May 28, 2011

Facebook announced that it had over 2 million public updates mentioning either Manchester united or FC Barcelona, considering that more than 238 million people on Facebook like a sports team, athlete, league, or sporting activity (that would be enough people to fill Wembley Stadium, the venue of the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final, 2,644 times).

According to an interesting article, the Final’s man of the match – and FIFA World Player of the Year- Leo Messi was the name on everyone’s lips and fingertips. Not only was Messi the most popular player on Facebook, earning a staggering 439,108 mentions (Wayne Rooney was second with 153,782 references), Messi was also referred to 70,000 times per minute(!) in the aftermath of his second-half goal, which put FC Barcelona 2-1 ahead. The Spanish champions also dominated in terms of mentions on the platform almost as much as they did in the passing statistics, with Barça referenced 1,831,779 times to “only” 305,830 references for the Red Devils.

The UEFA Champions League has scored high on Mashable’s weekly Top Twitter Trends throughout the entire competition. However, it took the Final to finally take the top slot. On Twitter the UEFA Champions League Final drove updates to (almost) unprecedented levels. There were 6,303 tweets per second – at that time the highest spike for a sports event ever – when Rooney equalized for Man. United. In reply, 6,277 tweets per second followed David Villa’s clinching goal for Barça.

We Are Social’s Jamie Robinson (@talljamz) produced a great info-graphic on the impact of the UEFA Champions League final on the social media landscape.

 NBA 2011 Finals

May 31 June 12, 2011

Dan Baldassarre and Roger Chang from NM Incite (@nmincite) wrote a great piece using NM Incite’s BuzzMetrics social media monitoring tool, they compiled all consumer-generated conversation across blogs, message forums and Twitter for each of the 16 NBA playoff teams to determine which team deserved the buzz title. Check there post out here.

The Dallas Mavericks might have won the title, from a social media perspective, however, the Heat swept every game, earning more mentions and comments and winning the so-called social score of the series. According to the article the Miami Heat organization (and their fans) can take solace in one thing: While they may have lost the 2011 NBA Finals, they can be proud to call their team this year’s Social Media Champions!

One of those proud Miami Heat fans should be Jason Feifer (@heyfeifer). In an excellent post he explains exactly what the NBA is doing right. 2.5 billion videos were viewed on this season, more than double last year’s count! The league has 117 million followers – once you count Twitter and Facebook followers of the league, its 30 teams, and its individual players.

Lebron James was clearly the most popular (or most polarizing) player in the NBA this year. According to Anthony Marcusa’s (@MrAnthonyWrites) post on Social Times, James was also among the most talked about topics on Twitter, achieving over 915,000 comments, the most of any trend, and the second most number of unique comments at 328,000, just behind “Mavs”.

Other great posts that review the social media impact of the 2011 NBA Finals are this one by The Digital Royalty’s @kirstenstubbs, this post by Karianne Stinson (@Karianne) on the Banyan Branch blog, and this post on the official Google blog by Mike Rooney analizing the searches on both NBA teams.

 The 2011 FIFA Womens World Cup

26 June 17 July, 2011

The 2011 Women’s FIFA World Cup Final will – the great comeback aside – be remembered for the all time Tweets Per Second record it set during that epic match. The final between the USA and Japan on July 17, 2011, set a new all-time high with 7,196 tweets per second. The Paraguay vs.Brazil game (in the Copa America Quarter-final on the same day) earned the new number two spot with 7,166 tweets per second.

Here’s a nice read by @JeffKassouf on on how Social Media lifted the Women’s World Cup to new heights. It shows how @hopesolo and @AbbyWambach have dramatically increased their social media following over the course of the tournament; “You can see for yourself the effects social media has had,” Solo said. “It’s pretty clear cut that the numbers on my own Twitter account went from 10,000 to over 100,000 followers, so it’s obviously the evolution of not just this sport but the evolution of this time.”

Another phenomenon that is surely here to stay is covered here by Stephen Douglas (@CRM_Stephen). It’s a post on How USA Soccer Fans reacted to Abby Wambach’s Game-Tying Goal Against Brazil, featuring videos of fans celebrating the US equalizer. Who films themselves watching sports (either on TV or in the stadium)? Well, apparently quite a lot of people do. I’m certainly aware of quite a few pretty embarrassing videos of myself celebrating some important goals… thank you very much for not posting any of them in the comments ;-).

Following the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Quarterfinal between the USand Brazil, six of the 10 trending topics on Twitter had something to do with the match. In this post @katierogers explains Twitter is the equivalent to a giant sports bar in cyberspace.

As a fan points out somewhere in the comments: “You really know you’ve arrived when you’re featured in The Onion.”




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13 Responses to Social Media Shakes up Key Sports Events in 2011

  1. nmincite August 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    @thomasvanschaik wow, thanks! great round-up of social media in sports. thanks for including us! ^KS

  2. Karianne August 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    @thomasvanschaik thanks for the mention and thanks for letting me know!

  3. heyfeifer August 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    @thomasvanschaik hey, awesome. thanks for the link! that was a great roundup.

  4. PabloCabello August 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    @thomasvanschaik @sportsnetworker you have to visit @spainsportsnet #sportsnetworking Regards from Spain

  5. JeffKassouf August 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    @thomasvanschaik Thanks. Great stuff. I read @sportsnetworker frequently. Definitely appreciate the mention!

  6. Karianne August 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Great post on @sportsnetworker by @thomasvanschaik discussing the role of social media in major sporting events of 2011.

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