This morning, Rafael Nadal took down the World’s #1 player, Novak Djokovic, at the second Grand Slam of the season, the French Open. This final matchup was a historic one in particular as Djokovic was trying to hold all four major Grand Slam titles at the same time (TigerSlam anyone?) and Nadal was vying for his record breaking 7th French Open title.
History was going to be made on the court one way or the other at one the world’s biggest events in tennis, but was the French Tennis Frederation prepared for the result? Did the FTF create the buzz needed to help catipult the French Open into the crowded international sports limelight?
As with the Australian Open, Sports Networker decided to break down the French Open or Roland Garros (the French translation) social media and technology strategy to see if they really captured the fans’ attention.
How Did The French Open Digital Strategy Score?
French Open Facebook Activation (Grade: A-)
The French Tennis Federation chose Facebook as their primary social media channel to reach their fans. With a combined 520,000 fans on the French Tennis Federation and Roland Garros pages, they had a captive audience in which to disseminate information and generate hype surrounding the event. Here are a few unique things that are implemented on their Facebook pages:
- Geotargetting their Facebook posts to deliver messaging to local fans.
- Launched “Golden Moments” Facebook tab presented as a Pinterest Board showcasing the most legendary photos and videos from the competition over the years which yielded 3,200 unique visitors to the page in one month.
- Opened a Facebook store by grouping popular merchandise together. This initiative brought in 2,300 unique visitors in one month.
- Created a Facebook App in which the user could create their “Perfect Player” by choosing the best forehand, serve, etc. to create their ideal tennis player. This application was by far the most effective in generating visitors as it brought in 6,000 views within the first two weeks of the launch.
*Special thanks to Tigerlily for providing these statistics on their partnership with the French Tennis Federation and Roland Garros. To see more of this Facebook activation, check out their slideshare presentation, How to Engage Fans on Facebook.
Gamification on the French Open Website (Grade: B)
Another medium in which the French Tennis Federation was aggressive in engaging fans was their French Open website where they featured several unique games. Facebook was also integrated heavily on the website’s gamification portal as visitors could challenge their friends and win prizes in “My Roland-Garros Cup“, fill out brackets, and play in a virtual tournament. While these games are great at engaging fans to interact with the brand, they are fairly run-of-the-mill type games that we have seen before. To really generate buzz, brands need to think outside the box. Especially when it comes to gamification as it could be a significant driver in their digital strategy.
Where’s The Twitter Love? (Grade B-)
While the French Open digital activation team did well in terms of Facebook activation, they could have really stepped up their game on Twitter with the use of unique hashtags, sponsor promotions, etc. While they were active in terms of updating their feed, they could have gotten more creative with their content that they put out there – like the Australian Open. The Australian Open did a phenomenal job with their Social Leaderboard modules and should be the model used going forth for other individual sporting events like golf, skiing, tennis among others. The Australian Open brought tennis into the forefront of social media in sports for the duration of the tournament and this same model could have been used with the French Open.
Mobile Application Missteps (Grade: D+)
As for their application on mobile devices, the official 2012 Roland Garros app did not fair too well in public perception and response. The app had an overall ranking of 2 stars out of a possible 5 on the iTunes App Store. Although the app developer claims that it finished at 4 stars at the end of the week (according the the app description), user feedback doesn’t lie. Users complained that the design of the app was very poor, was rarely updated (especially in the crucial final match) and crashed continually.
As the second-screen continues to become more and more important in the fan’s sporting experience, this issue needs to be resolved quickly. Users can get fed up with the ease of use of the app and abandon their efforts of following the tournament. Some people are only able to follow the tournament through their mobile device and if that fails on the user, then they automatically loose an audience member – crucial in today’s competitive market for viewers and fans.
Game, Set, Match (Overall Grade: B/B-)
Overall the French Tennis Federation and the French Open had a relatively solid digital strategy for their prized “Roland Garros”. They proved to use Facebook to drive unique visitors and the website featured games to engage fans as well. But they could really improve their strategy by incorporating other social networking sites like Twitter and Pinterest and developing a better app for mobile device users. Luckily the have a whole year to figure it out!
What are your thoughts on the French Open digital strategy? Anything that we missed? Leave your comments below or tweet us!