Ash Barty has joined tennis legends Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Serena Williams in securing the women’s year-end world No.1 ranking for at least three straight seasons.
‘Interactive’ is a word commonly flung around by sports organisations, but the reality is that our codes either don’t understand the potential of social media, or aren’t keen on fan interaction going beyond token family days.
Take the AFL website, for example, made up of articles and videos, just like an online paper.
It all comes from the league, so is perhaps a bit ‘produced’ for the average fan. The only real interaction comes from footy tipping comps and fantasy football, which doesn’t have much of an effect on anything besides egos.
The NRL site is not much better. It’s a shame because, if done well, there are so many benefits from increased interaction for both fans and organisations.
For fans, getting more actual interaction will lead to more of a feeling of being a participant in a community, as opposed to being a spectator. It makes things like online polls a bit more exciting if the result could actually lead somewhere.
The other great thing is that online social interaction can be done instantaneously from the couch. Basically, it’s just better entertainment.
There are even more benefits for the relative organisations. Putting ideas out on social media gives the organisation an instant marketing survey. Higher fan interaction also means higher traffic on sites.
Fans feeling part of a community are more likely to invest their hard-earned into said community. User-generated content is a cheap way to keep a code or club’s website rolling.
Football is one code that has had success with fan interaction, used effectively in the creation of the Western Sydney Wanderers and the A-League All-Stars.
So just how far could social media interaction go?
There are all sorts of possibilities. Fans could get to pick teams for equivalent all-star games (AFL State of Origin, rugby Barbarians, and so on).
Supporters could at least choose who faces a press conference. Wikis (fan-driven information sources) might help with scouting between leagues. Players could make themselves available for interviews online.
Obviously, as technology moves forward, the possibilities increase. Fans are smart enough to know what they want, as opposed to being to being spoon-fed what other people choose.
It’s time for sport to fully understand the importance of the social media world as part of the overall media universe.