Social media in sports marketing offers a new path to market for sports associations, teams and brands. While professional sports delight in millions of viewers, media coverage of amateur and grassroots sports is quite limited. As a result, more and more associations are using social media to reach their target groups.
This is also the case with the Austrian Tennis Federation (ÖTV for “Österreichischer Tennisverband”). The posts appear on a social wall on the association's website. The community is enthusiastic and returns this “serve.”
The online presence of the Austrian Tennis Federation is large: In addition to the websites for the regional federations, it also includes the tournament calendar, the tables of the various leagues, and current rankings.
Players, tournament directors, and officials of the various tennis clubs come here for information. "We record up to 110 million page views per year," says Markus Ambrosi, who heads the marketing and sponsorship department at the ÖTV. " This provides us with a good foundation to position ourselves not only as a service channel, but as a community platform. And social media plays a big role here because we get direct feedback from our audience via social media."
Advantage Social Media: Three Benefits for Sports Marketing
Direct feedback is important to the Austrian Tennis Federation for providing the target group with appropriate content and the interaction benefits tennis as a whole:
- 💪 The more active the community is, the more the players feel connected to both the federation and the sport.
- 🤝 If they interact a lot, this also appeals to people interested in tennis. The sport thus gains new players.
- 💰 And last but not least, an active community is attractive for sponsors since they can use this channel to present themselves to tennis enthusiasts.
Social Media Promotes Interaction – on the Net and on the Court
Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok have emerged as popular social media platforms in the Austrian tennis community. Accordingly, the ÖTV has been active on all three platforms for several years. It has a total of about 40,000 followers.
Those who follow the official channels will get to know Austrian athletes, find out about current tournaments, and take part in competitions. "We also offer infotainment and serve up tennis topics in an interesting way," says Markus Ambrosi. In particular, the ÖTV plays these up on its TikTok channel.
How long did the longest match in tennis history take? How rapid was the fastest shot ever measured? While passers-by in the pedestrian zone are confronted with the ÖTV team's quiz questions, young players are "spoiled for choice" at the youth championships. Spontaneity is required here – what do players prefer: Clay or hard court? Tight or loose stringing? Forehand or backhand? In addition, skill challenges that encourage imitation beckon.
"We would like to expand this area further in the future," says Markus Ambrosi, giving a preview of things to come. "We plan to offer more practical tips from Jürgen Melzer." For this purpose, the former Austrian top-10 player and current ÖTV sports director will compile technical and training recommendations that interest the community.
The idea: "We would like to launch a call to ask questions or to send short video sequences of a particular shot, which our trainers then evaluate and to which they respond with suggestions for improvement," says Markus Ambrosi. This is how the ÖTV wants to involve the community even more intensively and promote interaction.
Social Wall Makes Social Media Content Visible to Everyone
In order to make professional social media content accessible to a larger audience, the Austrian Tennis Federation uses the Flockler social wall. It is integrated into the ÖTV's homepage and on the pages of the regional federations. If social media posts use certain hashtags, they automatically pop up on the social wall. This galvanizes people: "Since we have had the social wall on our websites, significantly more users have used our hashtags," says Markus Ambrosi.
In particular, the hashtag #tennisaustria is trending with the Austrian tennis community. And so, the social media posts of the official ÖTV channels are mixed with contributions from amateur and professional players such as Dominic Thiem. The content of tennis clubs and tennis academies from the various regional federations is also available. "We make sure that the posts on top-class and grassroots sports are balanced." For this purpose, the Austrian Tennis Federation uses Flockler's moderation tools: If content is duplicated or an article does not fit well on the social wall, the marketing team hides it with a click.
The social wall is also well received by the regional federations: "The individual regional federations do not have a marketing department that continuously produces social media content," explains Markus Ambrosi. Accordingly, they benefit from bringing user-generated content and ÖTV posts to their websites. This will put fresh content on the site.
"Each regional federation also has its own hashtag, so that they can better filter local content if needed," says Markus Ambrosi. This knowledge will encourage one or the other player to share even more training successes, tournament results, and team experiences.