Social Media

Social media is changing the way athletes, clubs and fans are interacting with each other. No longer are fans queuing to have the rare encounter with their idol, with the introduction of the Internet and social media, fan interaction is easier than ever! Because of the webosphere we are not only just watching, fans can get instant news, insights, commentary straight from the source.

Singaporean commentator Walter Lim describes sports and social media as a match made in heaven, he says “the instantaneous, intimate and interactive nature of social and mobile technologies make them perfect platforms to fuel our sporting desires”.

The incorporation of social media into sport is showing our deep descent into a future culture, now more than ever has social media and the internet given the sporting industry a Segway to maximise their reach to fans.

A prime example of this is renowned English Premier League Club, Manchester United. Man United are known for ‘flexing’ their ‘social media muscles’, social media has become one of their key tools in the marketing department. Manchester United are one of the most followed football clubs in the Premier League, fans of the red devils are said to make up 30% of all premier league followers. Meanwhile, the club has been accounted for more than 40% of fan engagement in 2017.

Social media is being used as a tool for marketing, fan impression and also merchandising. 2016 was a big year for signings at Manchester United; one, in particular, was the five-year deal of Paul Pogba. Rather than addressing the media the traditional way in a press conference, Man United took to social media to break the news to the world.

On Tuesday the 9thof August at 12.35am the news broke loose at emerged the hashtag #POGBACK that signified his reunion with the club that sold him in 2012. Red Devils were sent into a frenzy over the new signing, but this was not the only way the news broke the Internet.

Social media can maximise reach to their followers, Pobga, Adidas and Manchester United are a match made in heaven. The club and the brand went hand in hand to unveil a music video performed by artist Stormzy.

The video quickly went viral and within the first week, it reached more than 3million views. The video represented a fusion of music, lifestyle, rap and sport – which some can is the perfect reflection of Paul Pogba. But this is only one example; currently, Paul Pobga on Instagram alone has 22.8 million followers, Manchester United can offer any sponsorship this much reach each time the athlete posts a picture wearing their product.

Pobga signed to the club for £89 million, however, shortly after Man United signed renowned Swedish player Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer. It was rumoured that Zlatan’s jersey sales alone had paid for Pogba’s transfer fee.

These are only some examples to exhibit how much of an impact social media is having on the sporting industry. Sporting clubs now are thinking beyond the realm of social media and are exploring digital innovations; apps like the Manchester United application or the NBA app on smartphones are changing the game. Brands and clubs are branching out to maximise fan engagement in the next generation.

Sport is progressing further towards cyberculture. How we know, communicate and engage has all turned to digital technology. As previously stated the sporting industry has invested in social media in order to engage fans and attract the newer generations. However, the relationship between social media, fans and athletes proves not to always be as efficient and positive.

With heightened fan engagement and surveillance, social media creates an easy opportunity for athletes to go viral as a result of their actions or words. As a result of this athletes are heavily surveilled by governing bodies to avoid public humiliation and outrage. An example of this is Paul Pogba, in March of this year he released a photo of his latest haircut, as some described it resembling a ‘peacock’. Fans expressed outrage by Pogba’s ‘antics’ on social media, urging the football star to clean up his act.

There are further countless amounts of ‘accidental’ posts by athletes on Twitter:

paul-george-tweet-about-ray-rice-wife-beater-2014.jpg

https://www.instagram.com/p/BggH7-nj-CR/?taken-by=paulpogba

Furthermore, while social media has now become a key tool in marketing for athletes, associations and brands we can see social media as an ever-evolving platform for fans and the next upcoming generation. In order to maintain its success and efficiency, player profiles must continue to be patrolled to avoid miscommunication, embarrassment and potential harm.

With all the success and branding from social media, will athletes and their clubs take an extra step for precaution and surveillance?

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Arsenals first team re-enacted Arsene Wenger’s worst nightmare.

Arsenal was left in shambles after Sunday’s game against Liverpool FC.

Arsenal’s significant 4-0 loss had their performance labelled as “absolutely disastrous” and “unacceptable” by their manager Arsene Wenger after the team were a ‘ghost side’ at Anfield.

17 minutes into the first half, Robert Firmino secured Liverpool’s first goal of the match, heading the ball past Arsenal’s keeper Petr Cech, who palmed it to the back of the net.

Wenger’s starting line-up disappointed Arsenal fans, having newly transferred Alexander Laccazette sitting on the bench for the first half of the game. Fans continued to question Sanchez starting in centre field, after being sidelined for the season opener against Chealsea, due to a previous injury.

Liverpool dismantled the Arsenal side, leaving little hope for a comeback in the second half after Salah robbed Bellerin to settle the margin 3-0. Shortly after Salah sinking the ball into the goal to bring Liverpool up into second place on the table.

After this week’s performance, Wenger’s future relationship with the club has come in to question despite his contract being recently extended by two years.

“From the first minute to the last minute [Arsenal] were not at the level requested for such a game. Not physically, not technically, not mentally and we were punished. That’s basically it. Of course, you can analyse the chances we gave away, but I just think overall the performance was not at the requested level,” said manager Wegner in a short press conference after the game.

 

With the transfer market coming to a close end, and after today’s performance it was clear Arsenals players were torn in a decision to stay at the club. With Arsenal’s defender Mustafi wanting to leave after a bittersweet 12 months with the club, beg the question as to whether Oxlade-Chamberlin and Sanchez’s career at the club are now on the rocks.

While it may be too early to predict Arsenal’s finishing place on the ladder this season, many fans have lost their confidence in the team’s strategy.

Arsenal vs. Middlebrough

Sitting in second in the Premier League and the stakes were high for Arsenal to continue on with their winning streak.

Week 9, Arsenal set to verse Middlesbrough. After weeks of rest Cech, Monreal and Iwobi 1477066623-7859.jpgfinally returned, however, it turned out to be a game that the team wasn’t expecting. Arsenal’s winning streak came to an end after a 95-minute game, they drew 0-0 to Middlesbrough.  Cech‘s skills were challenged as Middlesbrough kept coming, however he held strong as Negredo kept coming and Ramirez free kick to the cross bar presented itself as a surprise. However, Arsenal fought back with Ozil crossing the ball to Chamberlain to take the kick, only to face the waving flags as the German was offside.sports-bar-fuel-247-drinks-alcohol-city-sydney-cas1.jpg

This weeks sit-in was at The Star’s renown Sports Bar. The night was filled with alcohol, gambling, banter and of course the Premier League. This was a quality night out, however, the game was a bit of a letdown.

As we were on the train heading to Central, I asked myself ‘how is this night going to be different than all the others’? I began my observations the minute we sat down at the sports bar, drinks began flowing and the seats around us began filling up. Die hard fans front and centre, while the rest of us were scattered around. As the game kicked off the people around us began to become louder and louder. As per usual banter bounced from one table to another, all fun and games until…. My friends and I encountered a male who may have had’one to many’, he then began to take the insults one step further as a result of what was going on in the game.

This was something that notable changed the dynamic of the room, laughter and cheering lowered and every table began to keep to themselves. It was at this point that phones were taken out, and became a large factor for the rest of the night. In comparison to the beginning of the night, not only my friends but also the people around us were not relying on their phones as much. An enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere was created in the room, and the need to partake in only online conversation was erased.

In comparison to the previous settings, I thought that this highlighted the different nature of place and space. As it was a public domain, and of course alcohol was in the mix there was the freedom to converse with the people around us rather than rely on twitter feeds and our friends only. “Membership feelings are enhanced by watching sport its other [people], and the public context supplies moments of acknowledgement and acceptance by other fans”. It was interesting to notice how a single game can unite such a diverse range of people, and how this ‘soccer etiquette’ is practised by more than my close group of friends. Rules that I noticed were:

  • Insults and aggressive behaviour were monitored by all (with the exception of a certain someone)
  • Volume of conversations was respectful during match play
  • Seating arrangements were made so all can see

By doing so all were able to experience a comfortable and fun night, in comparison to the first match viewed with friends attention span did alter. I think the major difference was that alcohol played a role in this week’s viewing, resulting in attention spans becoming shorter than usual. However, the nature of this week’s game also impacted our enjoyment, as Arsenal did not perform as well as previous weeks I think the ‘pre-game hype’ resulted in a letdown.

Viewing this week’s game in a public domain this week was helpful in understanding how place, space, audience and media influence our viewing experience. Surrounding yourself with strangers as well as incorporating other activities into the mix can cause viewers to rely less on their media activity, and interact more with their surroundings. I think by having that extra external ‘distraction’ it eliminates the need to participate in the only sports domain.

Till next week, Up the Gunners!

Arsenal vs. Swansea

Since beginning the season Arsenal has had 7 wins leading the to second place on the EPL ladder, victory is sweet.

As week 8 of the EPL season was approaching, Arsenal announced that they would be arsenal_vs_swansea_250314.jpgwithout Giroud and Ramsey. However, this did not setback the team, as they took out Swansea in a 3-2 lead. Walcott scoring the first two goals, and Ozil finally stepping up the plate and perfectly executing a volley a great way to celebrate his 28th birthday.

This week’s game was viewed in the comfort of my very own bed, lonesome to say the least but worth it to see the boys fight till the end.

Watching Arsenal play is a favourite pastime of mine, however, what I have found is that the experience is not the same when watching with friends. While the company can often be annoying, it is the people and the atmosphere that create the ultimate viewing experience.IMG_6300.jpg The constant bickering of rivals and the tension as the players dribble the ball up to the goal for execution creates the suspense, and once they score the feeling of relief and happiness is indescribable.

This week was not as enjoyable as the last, while the game was neck-to-neck sitting in bed  alone removed the climax of the game. Listening to myself quietly chant and cheer as Walcott took out the first two goals of the game was just not the same.

Fans do not only connect to sports through stars and places but also through the communication and social currency it generates. Sports events are social gatherings where the supplementary events and experiences are often more important than the actual game. One of the fundamental advantages of social currency is that it appeals to the deeply rooted desire of people to be part of crowds. This factor is critical to the popularity of fan-zones, travelling to away games, viewing parties, sports-bars and – more recently – the dramatic ‘socialization’ of the sports fan.

Fan socialisation ultimately is what has a dominate influence on your viewing experience. I think this was proven correct in my sit in, my viewing habits in comparison to week 4 changed. For example, my media use increased by more than 50% in areas such as social media conversations and media activity. Like my male friends, I began to involve myself in online conversations with my friends and others from around the world. I began to notice that I was using the game almost as background noise while playing games such as 1010! and Candy Crush. My attention would shift to my laptop as the commentators and ground began to create suspense as either team’s were shifting closer to the goals. And due to the early hours of the morning, the comfort of my own bed at the best of times I would often fall asleep.

In the process of viewing this week’s game, I noticed that my movie habits crossed over. These examples are how my attention span and dynamic of my bedroom influence my viewing experience:

  •  The way I assemble my pillows in my bed
  • Positioning of my laptop
  • Every 10 minutes I would put my phone down and focus on the game
  • The process of checking social media: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and finally emails
  • I always eat/chew when there is no speaking or an ad break
  • Room must be dark apart from the laptop and phone

This lonesome viewing experience highlights how the company of an audience enhances the viewing experience. In my opinion, it adds to the atmosphere, making the game more enjoyable to watch. However, it has emphasised viewing habits and attention spans, by viewing the game alone I noticed that I had a constant habit or desire to be on my phone. From a research experiment conducted by Microsoft, it found that “Young respondents were more likely to display addiction-like behaviors when it came to their devices. For example, 77 percent of people aged 18 to 24 responded “yes” when asked “When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone,” compared with only 10 percent of those over age 65. Out of the 18 to 24 age group, more than half admit to checking their phone every 30 minutes or less and over three-fourths used their portable devices while watching TV“. Furthermore, it intertwines the idea of personal devices in a public and private space, in this instance I was in a private space. However, due to my media activity across a range of various platforms, I was participating in public activity.the-new-retail-boundaries-private-vs-public-spaces-of-shopping-9-638.jpg

As a result of viewer habits during games, the EPL has adopted Twitter, Facebook and various other accounts. By doing so it integrates the viewing and social media experience together, therefore blurring this idea of public and private viewing habits.

This week’s viewing experience has taught me how media influences individuals watching experience. And also allowed me to value how good company is when watching one of your favourite sports.

Till next week, Up the Gunners!

An English Premier League Experience

Space – What is around you. Place – Where you are. Audience – Who is viewing.

These three key themes frame our understanding of the modern media environment. The evolution of television and the way audiences view media content has dramatically changed and is constantly evolving.

This evolution is illustrated in the practice of viewing sports on television, which has Archie Williams interview.jpgprogressed with technology; in 1936 Berlin Germany was the first television viewing station to watch the Summer Olympics of that year. This was the World’s first live stream of sports. Fast forward decades later and viewing your favourite team from anywhere in the world play has been more portable and widely accessible than EVER. Smartphone apps and online streaming services now allow the viewer to watch games instantaneously.

From antennas to live streaming sports, broadcasting companies now are offering bundles of sports channels; for example, Foxtel Australia offers the sports combo for $51 per month, consisting of channels such as all Fox Sports channels, beIN Sports etc. While lounge-projector-screen.jpgthese companies are offering various subscription packages, public spaces are purchasing and promoting these channels to encourage sports lovers to view the current games. An example of this would be Star City Casino’s  24/7 Sports Bar, a popular public space where sports, gambling and alcohol is on the agenda for the wild Saturday night and also available everyday throughout the week.

As a sports lover, going out with friends a soccer or NRL game is a great pass time for me. In particular, we favour watching the English Premier League  (EPL) with a strong focus on Arsenal. Living in Australia at first, it was rather difficult to view a live game, simply due to the time difference, not to mention access to various streams. However as of the start of this year Optus bought the rights to broadcast all EPL games, which has enabled greater access.

As a result of the love I have for watching EPL,  my digital project will be based on remote_image_ece3c110f8.jpgviewing selected games, and monitoring media habits in relation to several of the key theories we have discussed this session (list these: eg public vs. private space) . I have chosen to watch the game in my own home, at a friends house and in a public space. By doing so I will be measuring and examining:

  • My attention levels (how often I lose interest, how often I look at my phone etc)
  • Observing the actions of others
  • How the atmosphere varies and influences viewing experience
  • Are there un-proclaimed rules that we have to follow

Ultimately through experience and observations, I want to find out how space, place and audience influence an individuals viewing experience and learn how the levels of enjoyment differ each time. In pursuing this project stakeholders such as EPL viewers, owners of such public spaces and broadcasting companies can gather a wider understanding of how space, place and audience ultimately affect a viewers experience. Ultimately begin working towards how to enhance and cater to audience viewing and these various trends in a variety of different places.

Calling all soccer fanatics

With the ever-growing technological advancements our society is experiencing, our most simplest and traditional activities are transforming.

For instance Digital Storytelling has had an incredible influence, it is the combination of text, photographs, animation, sound etc which are used as an ‘expressive medium’ online-collaboration.jpgcombining various forms of subject matter. Couldry explains that the movement has popularised the means of producing and exchanging stories afforded by digital media. However at the core of storytelling are story circles, they are at the centre of collaborative and transformative learning. Couldry describes the concept of story circle as “a group of people sitting face-to-face commit to produce stories and listen to each other’s stories“.

Although like any project that requires technology and collaboration, researchers are able to identify success and limitations. As part of Couldry’s project, he devised three concepts: multiplications, spatialising (narratives of narratives) and habits of recognition. Multiplication refers to the relationship that is created by the story and the platform, as a result of the convergence of media and technology it has allowed for an ever-evolving communication scope. Spatialising explores the the creation of a narrative within a narrative based on its geography. Lastly habits of recognition highlights how differently the communication occurs when face-to-face and over social media, however interacting over social media does not hinder collaboration. Couldry explains that “the digital story circle does not replace relationships… but provides a means for sustaining and amplifying them“.

Understanding Couldry’s breakdown of the factors of a digital story circle, has allowed to identify a potential topic for the upcoming digital project.

Growing up in a sporty household and as a former athlete, tsports-watching1.jpghe nature of watching sporting
events has drastically changed. Now you are able to almost have the same experience of
attending the game, but presently seated in your own lounge room, eyes glued to the newest high definition television and surround sound blaring. Could we call this a man cave?

As an avid sports watcher, my viewing has gradually spanned over a range of channels on both the Free to Air channels, Foxtel and now online streaming channels. While we now have the luxury of being able to watch out favourite sporting teams in the comfort of our homes, our access to such games and events are dramatically changing.

 

For the upcoming digital project I have decided that I will be focusing and observing how jMtu4x25.pngaudiences watch the EPL. The way I intend to present the project will be through a range of blogposts, recounting my observations and experiences in different environments. I also want to include public opinion, therefore conducting a survey will also give me insight into where soccer fans prefer to watch their games and how atmosphere effects this.