Social media snapshots: USWNT, MLB All-Stars

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Social media exploded before, during and after Team USA’s big 5-2 victory over Japan to win  the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup on July 5.  Less than a week later, a midsummer sporting event rocked our social accounts again as baseball’s best squared off in the 2015 MLB All Star Game.

Live sports still capture real-time attention

Live sports, as it turns out, is one of the most powerful ways to engage digital media users. Consider what Brian Dutt, director of advisory services for FreeWheel, wrote earlier this year:

“Live sports are more likely than other digital video to be viewed across device platforms. While only 27% of all digital viewing occurs outside of desktop and laptop environments, 51% of live sports viewing is done either on smartphones, tablets, or over-the-top devices (over-the-top devices alone account for 34% of live sports viewing)…

“…Perhaps most importantly for the current pay-TV ecosystem, live sports serve as an entry point for TV Everywhere offerings. While programmers previously struggled to coax viewers into entering authentication credentials to access TV Everywhere, ‘must-have’ live events have finally brought viewers over the authentication wall; authenticated TV Everywhere posted a whopping 368% year-over-year growth in Q3 2014.”

Sports as social (media) events

Like any happening that grabs a big chunk of the nation’s attention, these two events gave us a great opportunity to consider how social media has changed the way we have conversations, share experiences and interact with our once-unapproachable heroes.

Ask any sports fan with a smartphone — is it any fun to watch a game without Twitter anymore? Do you need to read a daily paper or catch the morning SportsCenter to know exactly what your favorite athletes are up to? Probably not.

With these thoughts in mind, we decided to check out some of the search, social and TV numbers from these two exciting games.

Team USA captures the attention of a nation

“Womens World Cup” was, unsurprisingly, a very strong search term in July.  SEMrush.com reports that the keyword scored a 0.99 on a scale of 0 to 1 in its Trend tool, a dramatic leap over the results over the past several months.

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Another expected development – Google reported a strong increase in searches for the term “Womens World Cup” on the day of the championship game.  Google Trends shows “Womens World Cup” recording a score of 100 on a scale of 1 to 100 on July 5. That’s a drastic jump from a score of 28 just one day before.

Google Trends data is based on ” total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.” When “Womens World Cup” hit 100 on July 5, it was as popular as any Google term being searched.

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According to Digiday, there were 2.9 million tweets related to the U.S Women’s World Cup when the game began at 7 p.m to on July 5th to 1 a.m.

The official event hashtag, #FIFAWWC,  was used by various celebrities and fans which unlocked a soccer ball image when tweeted.

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Our nation’s leaders were solidly behind Team USA on the day of the championshiop game, taking to Twitter to show their support. President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were just a few of the familiar political figures who used Twitter to celebrate the big win.

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You could make a strong case that longtime Team USA star Abby Wambach is the finest player — male or female — in the history of American soccer.

When the legendary forward celebrated the victory overJapan with a kiss from her wife, Sarah Huffman, the moment was captured on Vine and went viral instantly.

The US may have topped Japan, but in the advertising battle, Nike trumped adidas — the official apparel sponsor of the Women’s World Cup.

From Fortune.com:

But it was Nike—not even an official FIFA sponsor—that won the day, according to marketing firm Amobee Brand Intelligence. In the six-hour period beginning at the start of the game, the company tracked 2.87 million tweets having to do with the U.S. Women’s National Team or the Women’s World Cup. The lion’s share of those tweets (1.08 million) used the hashtag #USA, so the game was clearly great for American patriotism. But it was also great for Nike: According to Amobee, Nike was the most mentioned brand in tweets leading up to and during the game. Between June 6 and July 5, Amobee reports that Nike was 121% more associated to the World Cup than Adidas.

MLB All Stars attract big audience, but is relevancy fleeting?

TMajor League Baseball’s appeal to the youth of today is a hot-take bonanza for sports radio hosts. Regardless of what the future may hold, the 2015 MLB All-Star Game was a mover and shaker in social media – even when the league was doing what it inexplicably does best, which is talk about the past.

#FranchiseFour became a popular hashtag and discussion topic on Twitter as the four top players from each of the 30 MLB franchises, as selected by the fans, were announced during the All-Star festivities.

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MLB players like Bryce Harper (someone under the age of 70, believe it or not) also took Twitter by storm. Harper gets an average of 600 new Twitter followers a day, and has a total of 519,000 followers currently.

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This is a unique time in baseball history: according to ESPN, 20 players on the roster of the two All-Star games are 25 years of age or younger.

Can these new millennial superstars – digital natives who live in the world of social media much more comfortably than any previous generation – help the National Pastime engage younger fans?

From The Washington Post:

According to Nielsen ratings, 50 percent of baseball viewers are 55 or older, up from 41 percent 10 years ago. ESPN, which airs baseball, football and basketball games, says its data show the average age of baseball viewers rising well above that of other sports: 53 for baseball, 47 for the NFL (also rising fast) and 37 for the NBA, which has kept its audience age flat.

Young people are not getting into baseball as fans as they once did: For the first time, the ESPN Sports Poll’s annual survey of young Americans’ 30 favorite sports figures finds no baseball players on the list. Adults 55 and older are 11 percent more likely than the overall population to say they have a strong interest in baseball, whereas those in the 18 to 34 age group are 14 percent less likely to report such interest, according to a study by Nielsen Scarborough. Kids ages 6-17 made up 7 percent of the TV audience for postseason games a decade ago; in the past couple of years, that figure is down to 4 percent.

MLB has the best digital video presence of any of the four major sports in the United States – it will be interesting to see if the combination of two major trends (young stars and awesome video capabilities) help right the ship for the future of the game.

USWNT and MLB audiences

Over 26 million Americans watched the USWNT win the World Cup. Game 7 of the 2014 World Series had 23.5 million viewers. Tip your cap to Team USA, who also garnered a larger national television audience than last year’s men’s World Cup final (25.7 million), as well.

MLB, however, continues to hold a significant edge in the social sphere, which is unsurprising, considering the massive advantages that the league brings to the table in terms of financial resources, staff, national presence and visibility.

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While MLB has a very large audience on nearly every social platform, it was interesting to see a fairly new sport come to the social media plate (or, in this case, pitch) and flourish.

With far fewer resources, other than their own , the UWNSL was still able to engage with platforms such as Instagram and Vine successfully. The USWNT’s official Instagram has over 594,000 followers and consistently attracted between 40,000 and 70,000 hearts for its photos.

USinstaphoto

USWNT’s Vine account has over 24 million loops and 21,000 followers, and the hashtag #USWNT continues to get good traffic a full month after the victory in British Columbia.

MLB’s official Instagram, currently with 1.7 million followers,  uses colorful, compelling player images, resulting in around 45,000-60,000 “likes” per photo.

MLbinstagram mlbphoto USWWCinstagram With over 5.13 million followers on Twitter and 6.2 million likes on Facebook, MLB has a larger audience than the USWNT on the two “traditional” social networks. However, the US Women’s Soccer League is quickly playing catch-up, and has already gained almost 100,000 followers just in the month of July alone. Whether the momentum continues is a matter of debate, but the gains are, nonetheless, impressive. One final note: live stream apps such as Periscope and Meerkat clips were all over Twitter as fans rooted for both the men and women, which contributed to the immersive social media atmosphere in July.  periscope periscop2 periscope3

It’s a great time to be a sports fan, isn’t it?

Need some help with your social media? Contact us or call our experts at 716-691-6200 or tweet us your thoughts @QuinlanCompany.   We would love to hear from you!

Ben Kirst contributed to this blog post.

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