New Study: Digital Presence in Tennis - Lisandro Caravaca

Spain, 2nd May 2019. Lisandro Caravaca presents the “Study: Digital Presence in Tennis” which analyses the top 100 tennis players and their activity online.

Lisandro Caravaca, advisor and digital marketing specialist focused on the tennis industry, presents a study which unveils important features for the evolution of sports marketing and tennis players personal branding management.

*Read the Spanish version here.

 

  • Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sharapova are the tennis players featuring the best digital presence.
  • Instagram is the favourite social media platform.
  • Don’t have website: A large 63% in the ATP circuit and 66% in the WTA circuit.
  • Less than 10% of players produce their own content on Youtube.

About the Study

The first phase (January 2019) took the top 100 ATP official ranking (men tennis circuit) in 2018. The second stage (May 2019) also includes WTA top 100 (women tennis circuit) and provides a quantitative value to the players activity in social media. Last but not least, the third phase is characterized by a qualitative assessment in terms of a full digital presence. In any case, the investigation does not intend to point out the amount of followers that players have in each social network.

We’ve decided to launch the study and publish the conclusions during the clay season and in the context of the Mutua Madrid Open, a very important tournament which takes place in the capital of Spain from 3rd to 12th of May. By the way, we are attending the tournament next Tuesday 7th May.

It is important to highlight that this study is private and -at this point in time- does not count on any sponsoring, advertising or any of the brands mentioned. Moreover, this work has been possible thanks to the great support of Laura Álvarez Blanco (LinkedIn), undergraduate at Degree in Marketing and Market Research of the University of León.

First Phase

The first phase of the study -disclosed at the beginning of the new season- reveals that 63% of ATP (men circuit) tennis players among top 100 singles ranking do not have their own website working. Regarding the top 100 ranked players analysed, 53% of them did not have website, 10% had a domain but this was not available or did not load properly. The remaining 37% did have website. In this first stage, this study does not evaluate the quality of the sites.

 

The Importance of Having a Website

Among other things, this first part of the study aims to address a frequent question: “Why do I need a website if I already have a free Facebook fan page?”. The truth is that it is crucial for these players -both personally and professionally- to have a website instead of relying on a few social networks. A customized private site and of their own authorship is mandatory. Pro tennis players must provide a digital space that works as the core element of the marketing strategy. This is a feature that must be considered as their digital home, the main place to visit and find useful information.

According to Lisandro Caravaca, “the fact of depending on external companies such as Facebook is not the best option because we do not control failures, updates and, in many situations, content (comments). In fact, in case of penalty, users may lose all the work done for years. Moreover, technical support is much more difficult to handle. Social networks are essential tools not to replace but to complement and build a strong digital marketing strategy in which the choice of the convenient tools must begin by creating a suitable website”.

It is true that Facebook is a universe itself featuring 2 billion users all over the world. However, Google search results provide an even more impressive statistic: more than 3.5 billion searches a day.

Comparisons and differences give rise to an endless debate. In summary, it is important to keep on learning, seek advice and build an appropriate strategy and planning. Through a website we can always manage image, content, goals and it certainly is an ideal tool in order to achieve a successful marketing outcome.

 

Second Phase

In this second part, we consider which players use their social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, mainly), as well as other communication and marketing tools (apps, e-commerce, etc.). We also set the stage for the third phase looking at several aspects such as… do they have a verified account? how often do they post and update their profiles?

In the ATP, apart from the abovementioned 63% of players that do not have a working website, 73% of them are on Facebook (17% do not have a fanpage and 10% are not using it). 76% have a Twitter account. It is remarkable to say that only 5% do not have an account on Instagram whereas only 4% have their own YouTube channel. Concerning other platforms, a small 2% has Snapchat, Google Plus or the Russian VK (vkontakte).

In the WTA, 66% of tennis players do not have a working website. According to their social media presence, on Facebook 66% do not have an active fan page. On Twitter, it’s 73% of them. On Instagram, only 6% do not have an account in this platform. On Youtube, only 9% do have a personal channel and most of them are non-active.

Instagram is their favourite social media platform

In most cases, tennis players appreciate the need of being visible on Internet and the usage of social media networks as a way of communication with their audience (fans, tournaments, media, etc.). Nevertheless, they still do not take into consideration –as expected- the importance of a nice digital presence that shows their identity in a professional and strategic way, their personal brand and what it means to their works teams, clubs, associations, countries, sponsors, etc.

We take this opportunity to make an appeal to their teams (managers, agencies, advisors, etc.) to provide all the support. It is essential that everybody dedicates more resources (time, funds, training, strategy, etc.) and get some training and advice in this respect.

Third Phase

In this third fase we planned to go beyond the data report in order to share something more original and appreciate the work of those players who take their digital presence very seriously.  It’s time for you to know who’s doing great. Please welcome the I Digital Presence Tennis Awards.

We’ve inspired ourselves in previous initiatives such as the NBA Social Media Awards. In the tennis sector, the company Tecnifibre led a project called “Young Gunsthat also was very appropriated and interesting but -unfortunately- did not have continuity. We hope this study motivates them to boost new opportunities in this way. Do you know any other ideas such as these? 

Before getting into it, we would like to share a few thoughts to conclude this third phase: 

Most of the players examined use social media to post content instead of using them to communicate with their audience. They post and spread the world but hardly ever talk directly with their fans (unless these are their friends or colleagues). It is essential for their development to begin to think about themselves as personal brands and users with a high impact potential. Most of them use these tools but it seems that the 2.0 bidirectional rules have not yet reached them all. We bet they know that fans are the core element of professional tennis. Not the players, coaches, tournaments, sponsors, journalists or federations. The main element for tennis industry to exist is the audience. Do you agree? Fans are more than TV viewers, radio listeners, social media users, tournament attendees… fans are much more than stats… we aks ourselves… why they are not always in their top of mind priorities and in the center of their strategies? Fans should be much more integrated in this sense.

Back to the study, in this step we posed ourselves all the following questions: Do they have website? Do they write in different languages? Do they update news and content? Do they participate in social media networks? In which ones? Do they have a personal brand (logo, motto, etc.)? Do they produce their own products, charity purposes, etc.? Do they include audiovisual elements? Do they develop any other platform such as mobile app, e-commerce, etc.?

There are players from countries with small population who only post in their mother tongue, that is an inappropriate approach… knowing that English is the main language in tennis, of course. At the same time, we’ve noticed that there are several non-official fan pages and profiles… that is also counterproductive due to the difficulty to guess if it’s the real player (or the team) or not.

I Digital Presence Tennis Awards

In order to set up the ranking we have considerated different quantitative aspects (digital presence) but also qualitative ones (professionalism, perseverance, coherence, content, etc.). The final decision has not been easy since we must find a balance among all the aspects and taking into account that there’s still a way to go in order to pursue the excellence.

Next week (6-12 de mayo) we’ll post a video and a new article about the Awards in which we’ll justify the decision making process:

TOP 3 DIGITAL PRESENCE RANK – ATP

  1. Stefanos Tsitsipas
  2. Novak Djokovic
  3. Dominic Thiem

TOP 3 DIGITAL PRESENCE RANK – WTA

  1. Maria Sharapova
  2. Donna Vekic
  3. Karolina Pliskova

Read the Spanish version here.

About the Author

Lisandro Caravaca is a digital advisor and digital marketing specialist focused on the tennis industry. He’s a social media manager, trainer, speaker, translator. He provides digital communication services for the tennis sector (tennis academies, professional players, staff, tournaments, etc.). He has worked as a tennis coach for 6 years in Spain and England. The professional goal of his agency is helping the tennis industry to perform an excellent communication by taking advantage of all the resources and opportunities of Internet.

Contact information

Mail: hola@lisandrocaravaca.es

www.lisandrocaravaca.es

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