Roland Garros – moving boundaries in social media communication
The 115th edition of Roland Garros, one of the four Grand Slams, was held in Paris, France, from 22nd May to 5th June. France is currently the sports centre of the world. Five days after the French Open Finals, the official opening of the UEFA Euro 2016 will be held. The opening match will take place at Stade de France (Paris, Saint-Denis) when hosts play against Romania. Besides Euro 2016, the special edition of Copa America, called “Centenario” (because the first edition was held in 1916) is currently being held in the United States.
Even though the global sports public is focused on football, in this article we will discuss tennis, and analyse the great and innovative communication on social media platforms that Roland Garros had during more than two weeks of the tournament (including qualifying round). We can say that French Open moved boundaries in creating content for social media platforms.
“Roland Garros has used new social and digital tools at their disposal to provide a deeper experience to fans visiting the slams’ various digital platforms” – Adrien Danjou, Digital Sport blogger.
million people follow Roland Garros on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
different hashtags were created for this year's Roland Garros
THE ROLAND GARROS 2016 OFFICIAL HASHTAGS:
“In terms of content, Roland Garros is getting very creative, particularly when it comes to using emojis in tweets, posting videos and interacting directly with fans, players and celebrities. All new social and digital activations from Roland Garros join the Fan Experience game between Grand Slam tournaments, with all want to offer the greatest digital experience to fans” – Adrien Danjou, Digital Sport blogger.
Marjolein Buis wins her 1st Major title, defeating two-time Grand Slam champion Sabine Ellerbrock 6-3 6-4. #RG16 pic.twitter.com/dVk3urxO4F
— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) June 4, 2016
To involve as many fans into communication and experience of the tournament, Roland Garros has created several hashtags compatible for various social media platforms. Even though they were active on all of the major social media accounts – Facebook (RG showed great use of the Facebook live app), Twitter, YouTube, Dailymotion, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and Vine – they got the highest engagement on Twitter.
The most used hashtag during the tournament was #RG16 featured with emoji of a clay court. It was implemented in the about section of the tournament’s official Twitter account.
Wild emoji alert at Roland-Garros! Will you find the hashtags associated with them for the upcoming tournament? pic.twitter.com/xQxzDgPyfi
— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) May 14, 2016
Novak #Djokovic becomes tennis' first $100M man: https://t.co/ctlMeyp9Gs #RG16 pic.twitter.com/N6vgR83yoj
— CNN Sport (@cnnsport) June 2, 2016
Another French Open, another final for Serena Williams. https://t.co/zI1vh08M4p#RG16pic.twitter.com/4KOxtQR3zI
— CNN Sport (@cnnsport) June 3, 2016
The hashtags #RolandGarros and #FrenchOpen were followed by an emoji of racket. They were also intended to cover the latest news and interesting facts about the tournament.
From Garbine, With Love. The 22-year-old is through to her 1st #RolandGarros final, awaits Serena-Bertens. https://t.co/smvSWek1am
— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) June 3, 2016
The 2016 #FrenchOpen women’s final will be a repeat of the 2015 Wimbledon final.
Who are you backing? pic.twitter.com/SkyZAdL071
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 3, 2016
With hashtag #RGEmotions they were building the excitement during qualifying week. When someone mentioned the @Roland-Garros official account followed by the #RGEmotions, the users got a photo from a moment in the past which left its mark on the history of the tournament. It was really a great way to make a deeper bond between fans and the tournament.
@DeliaVasilca Here’s one memorable picture 🌟. To discover the rest of them, tweet us again! #RGEmotionspic.twitter.com/z4rkE2IxsJ
— RolandGarrosEmotions (@RGCam) May 30, 2016
From quarter-finals onwards RG invited fans to use hashtag #RGBall featured with emoji of the tennis ball. Fans were encouraged to send a selfie of themselves while following the matches. The lucky winners of a draw were given a signed match ball.
Winning the first set. Go Murray. #RGBall #WAWMUR pic.twitter.com/ZjoER8osBU
— Sherwin Reyes (@owenreyes) June 3, 2016
Very interesting was the hashtag #RGFigurine. “Every morning, the 3D printer at the RG Lab will fire up after a certain amount of retweets, and a draw will decide who is the lucky winner of the object printed during that day” (Roland Garros official website).
RT pour déclencher notre imprimante 3D et tentez de remporter un des trophées ! #RGFigurine#RG16pic.twitter.com/8HGNcmI146
— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) June 3, 2016
Hashtag #RGRobot was used for everything related to the amazing tennis-playing robot created in French Open’s lab. Fans could challenge a tennis-playing robot and try to be more precise than it.
Amazing #IoT#TennisExperience from @RolandGarros with #RGRobot: is it the future? https://t.co/ZQz1dBrGw7#RG16@FFT
— Florent Greffe (@FlorentGreffe) June 3, 2016
They also created hashtags #RGExperience, #RGLegendsperrier (for the legends tournament) and #RGContest (the official fantasy game of the tournament)
J’aurai donc attendu 40 ans pour voir jouer Mc Enroe ! 🙂 🎾🎾🎾 #RG16 #RGLegendsPerrier pic.twitter.com/x8eti61Kho
— Barbara Riff (@Riffbarbara) June 3, 2016
Great use of Snapchat
To make an even deeper connection with their fans, Roland Garros used, for the first time, Snapchat. They used this fastest growing social media platform mostly for behind the scene content. And they were really good at it!
They also created a very detailed, multifunctional and user-friendly official app of the tournament (available in English and French) and an official spectator app for the fans in attendance inside the stadium.
We can conclude that Roland Garros really did a superb job in the field of digital communication during the tournament. With 11 different hashtags (and some cool emoji) they gave fans the opportunity to participate in content creation on social media platforms in many different ways. And fans embraced that opportunity!
Roland Garros was present and active on all of the major social media platforms. This year they have also launched the official Snapchat account showing that they are up to date with the latest social media trends. French Open’s social media team was really active and creative on Snapchat (and other platforms), and they have maximised the experience for their fans all over the globe.
When talking about results, it should be mentioned that Novak Đoković won his first Roland Garros and completed the Career Slam winning all four Grand Slams. Also, he became the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major tournaments concurrently. However, to complete the real Grand Slam (winning all four major annual tennis tournaments) Đoković needs to win this year’s Wimbledon and US open.
In women’s finals, 22-year-old Garbiñe Muguruza from Spain clinched the title. It was her first Grand Slam title. Muguruza defeated Serena Williams (7-5, 6-4) who is still waiting for her 22nd Grad Slam title to join Steffi Graf in the second place of the all-time Grand Slam winners (first is Margaret Court with 24 titles).
It will be interesting to see how the third Grand Slam of the season Wimbledon (which starts on 26th June) will cover its communication on their social media platforms.
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