There is no doubt that digital technologies that allow sports fans to get closer to their favorite teams and players have changed the communications landscape. But for all the hype, all the self appointed social media gurus, has sailing got it right yet?
At the World Yacht Racing Forum in December, Richard Worth of the Americas Cup Event Authority suggested that social media would be the vehicle to bring the new deal cup to the masses – perhaps making a promise to deliver Russell coutts’ vision of sailing for the Facebook Generation.
At the same event Richard Hosford from Hugo Boss racing told the audience that the sponsor put a value on a Facebook fan – the reasoning, which makes sense, is that a Facebook fan is a known individual who can be communicated with personally over time.
For most sailing properties, the interactive nature of social media – at least on the platforms that are most recognisable – like Facebook and Twitter, is not utilised or embraced.
Most sailing communications departments are staffed by old-school PRs who have a broadcast mentality. Some have come around to an idea of ‘narrow-cast’ but few are comfortable with the ‘back-channel’ which invites praise and criticism alike, in real time to a mass audience. For example – the recent Zhik Moth Worlds, which delivered exciting sailing, amazing photos and thrilling video never provided me an answer to my Facebook question – “where is the best place for spectators to watch the action?”
If an event is going to put social media on its media plan, then they have to be prepared to respond to questions from fans. Pushing out tons of content on another channel is only half the job.
While pure numbers is not everything in social media, we thought it might be interesting to do a quick Facebook League Table for sailing… Sorry if we’ve missed some, we’ll continue to build this and maintain it if people find it useful.
Yacht Racing Facebook League Table
- Volvo Ocean Race – 35,187 fans
- Sailing Anarchy – 12,464 fans
- BMW ORACLE – 12,413 fans
- Giovanni Soldini – 7,093 fans
- Oman Sail – 5,989 fans
- Extreme Sailing Series – 4,155 fans
- US Sailing Team Alphagraphics – 3,949 fans
- Quantum Racing – 3,869 fans
- America’s Cup (Official) – 3,521 fans
- Barcelona World Race – 3,254 fans
- Scuttlebutt – 3,251 fans
- Alinghi – 3,088 fans
- Michel Desjoyeaux – 2,293 fans
- World Match Racing Tour – 2,257 fans
- Velux 5 Oceans – 2,196 fans
- Alex Thomson Racing – 2,000 fans
- Ben Ainslie – 1,896 fans
- Cammas Groupama – 1,789 fans
- Australian Sailing Team – 1,651 fans
- Loick Peyron – 1,486 fans
- Artemis Racing – 1,456 fans
- Paul Cayard – 1,296 fans
- St Francis Yacht Club – 1,113 fans
- Perth 2011 – 761 fans
- Zhik Moth Worlds – 746 fans
- Lance Armstrong (Cyclist) – 1,569,532 fans
- Dale Earnhardt Jr (NASCAR) – 748,363 fans
- Venus Williams – 654,805 fans
- Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) – 487,161
- England Rugby – 169,647 fans
- Jenson Button (F1) – 147,228 fans
- Red Bull Racing (F1) – 117, 914 fans
- Jessica Watson (Sailor)- 11,356 fans