Twitter has set up shop in Oz, and clearly it knew just how to get to the heart of Australians – through sport of course!
One of the first events hosted by Twitter in Australia cut straight to the chase of arguably this country’s greatest passion – sport.
If there’s anything to be said about Twitter, it’s that the rapid-fire social media platform is a key definer for what’s relevant, what people care most about and what’s in or out of favour with the masses.
Sydney Cricket Ground, a mecca for Australian sports fans, played host to the session, which was designed to introduce a local face to Twitter – a platform that has remained relatively faceless in this part of the world until now. This came in the form of Mike Brown who introduced an audience of Sydney tweeps to a dose of healthy case studies on the best sports brands using Twitter.
Sports teams, athletes, legions of fans (and all of the associated drama) often form a catalyst for social media driven traffic, controversy and discussion. These conversations can also reflect what’s going on in society as a whole.
According to Mike Brown’s presentation, of the eight sports teams in the world with more than a million followers on Twitter, six are football/soccer clubs. The world game and its obsessive popularity among fans is certainly reflected in the Twitter-sphere.
Other specific sporting notables, teams and organisations recognised as leaders in Twitter engagement include:
UFC – The Ultimate Fighting Championship and its founder, Dana White have taken MMA from a backyard sport to overtaking boxing in terms of viewership popularity and growth on many fronts. A large part of this has to do with sustained and direct contact between the UFC, its fighters and the fans via social channels like Twitter.
Ricky Hatton – Ricky Hatton has won over the hearts of thousands of fans through direct and honest conversations via Twitter. The man has even brandished his Twitter handle across his flashy boxing shorts.
Manchester City FC – Manchester City FC has come to dominate the hashtag and name #Together as a definition for club loyalty and community. A quick Twitter search will give you an idea for what the club and the concept of #together means to fans.
Shaquille O’Neill – Shaquille O’Neill was an early adopter of Twitter and used it to help out fans where he could.
Barcelona FC – Barcelona FC now has more than 7.5 million followers and constantly engages with fans, media and its players via Twitter.
Twitter and Sports in Australia
After an initial introduction to @TwitterAU and presentation from Mike Brown, the floor opened up to a panel style chat with some of Australia’s big hitters in the Twitter game, including:
Wendell Sailor represented the Australian take on athletes and clubs using Twitter. He spoke about his personal experiences as @RealBigDell and role with one of the NRL’s most passionate communities, @NRL_Dragons and @RedVteam.
The panel also discussed how they have dealt with trolls, haters and racism on Twitter. The opinion from the discussion was simply to block the trolls as there’s not much else you can do, for now. Twitter’s Mike Brown did hint at possible changes in the pipeline relating to the platform’s management of offensive content.
Twitter, Sports and New Zealand
So where does all this Twitter activity in Australia leave Twitter communities, fans and sports in Aoteoroa?
New Zealand has the All Blacks, Dan Carter, the Warriors, #WarriorNation and we do tend to pull high follower numbers and engagement levels for a small country, but what could New Zealand learn from global sports powerhouses to further benefit social media at home?
Are there any great examples of New Zealand sports teams, athletes and fan clubs using Twitter that SMNZ should be writing about? If there are, get in touch with us!
Most importantly, do you think the fact that Twitter has opened up shop in Australia, will have an impact on New Zealand? What do you want Twitter to do for this part of the world?