Live-tweeting is an ever growing trend on Twitter, and its reach seems to be limitless - whether its individual fans live-tweeting their reactions to the finale of Game of Thrones to their 50 followers, or media outlets live-tweeting their coverage of a breaking story - as long as something is happening in real-time, live-tweeting is an exciting and engaging approach to discussing it. This rise of live-tweeting has made Twitter into a pseudo-media outlet in and of itself. People will turn to it in order to get instantaneous updates about things they care about.
The world of sports is no stranger to this rising trend. Watching sports is all about the real-time experience: sold out stadiums, live broadcasts, crowd shots, mexican waves, or simply yelling out “GOAL” together with everyone watching the game with you. So much of how we experience sports happens during the couple of hours during which the actual match happens.
The biggest events in football are arguably the biggest events in the world. The 2018 World Cup was watched by over 3 billion (yes, billion) people in some shape or form. The Premier League has a potential audience of over 4 billion (again, yes, billion) people on television. Football is something everyone cares about, and it is perhaps the most cared-about thing in the world. When people share a common interest on such a gargantuan scale, they want to be able to share their opinions. Sometimes this can be limited to the living room couch with a couple of their friends, or with a few dozen people in a sports bar, but social media offers a platform that is much more ambitious and far reaching than any other traditional platforms for reaction and interaction.
Live-tweeting is one part of the huge online platform Twitter offers sports teams to make use of. Here’s how sports teams are using live-tweeting to their advantage:
Being Part of the Whole Watching Experience
Sports are increasingly being consumed by fans not only through the broadcast, but also through a “second screen” - their phones. Fans are constantly using their phones to boost their experience of the sporting event. Sometimes it can be something as simple as recording their reaction to a clutch goal and posting it to their Instagram story, other times, it can be racing to Twitter after a questionable call to see whether their friends are just as outraged at the referee as they are.
This is where live-tweeting perfectly scratches that itch. Sports teams use live-tweeting to take advantage of this “second screen” mode of consumption of sports in order to increase the reach of their brand. Their brand already dominates the “first screen” - after all, you’re tuning into the live broadcast to watch the teams play. Making use of live-tweeting can allow a team’s brand to dominate the “second screen” as well. Essentially, the team's brand stays on top of things at all times. Did something happen in game that would drive fans to Twitter so they can express their opinions on it? Well, having a live-tweet about that event will invite fans to react to the tweet in order to express their opinions - whether it's in the form of a response or even a quote retweet.
Let’s Take an Example – Chelsea FC.
During their recent Premier League game against the Wolves, the Chelsea FC Twitter account was live-tweeting about the game. The game against the Wolves was important for Chelsea, since a win would put them into the top four, so, naturally, it was a must-watch game. Chelsea FC made two instantaneous live-tweets for the goals scored by Mount and Giroud, complemented by a number of other minor live-tweets in order to keep fans talking. The live-tweets of the two goals have a very high engagement rate compared to Chelsea FC’s normal tweets. The tweets also make use of the hashtag #CHEWOL, which is extremely important. Hashtags are an easy way to Twitter users to find discussion about specific topics they care about. In this example, clicking on #CHEWOL would lead to tweets that are exclusively about the Chelsea/Wolves match. In participating in live-tweeting and in using the hashtag, Chelsea FC dominates the hashtag. The first five tweets shown are from @ChelseaFC, showing that Chelsea’s Twitter account is leading the conversation about the match.
The live-tweets are clearly succeeding in centering the Chelsea brand around any sort of discussion when it comes to their matches. If a fan wanted to discuss the match, then odds are they would be led to @Chelsea FC, either by seeing their followers interacting with the account’s live-tweets, or by seeing the hashtag pop up.
Chelsea FC asking for general thoughts after the first half ended
Extending the Viewing Experience Through Live-Tweeting
The advantage of live-tweeting is that it allows teams to extend the watching experience past the 90 minute match time. After their victory versus the Wolves, Chelsea FC continued to live-tweet. Starting with a Man of the Match Twitter survey, they engaged their audience to play the role of commentators and give their fresh opinions after the match. The survey got an impressive 120k responses.
@ChelseaFC then followed up by notifying their followers about an upcoming Frank Lampard post-game interview, still holding on to their attention. Finally, the live-tweeting ended with a detailed thread covering Lampard’s interview, akin to a sports news outlet. The live-tweeting ended about a full hour after the game itself had ended. Compared to a televised experience, that can be filled with pauses and commercial breaks, the live-tweet thread offered fans the freedom to see what Lampard had to say without having to waste their time waiting for it to appear on screen. They can go do something else, yet still remain engaged with the Chelsea FC brand.
Not only can live-tweeting be a complement to the “first screen” experience, but it can even serve as a full replacement for it. Sitting at your TV and watching a whole football match can be very time consuming, and some people simply cannot afford to do that. Live-tweeting, if done properly, allows fans that are on tighter schedules to still be in touch with the key moments of a match, and be able to react to them and discuss them. This is one of the main reasons why live-tweets are often coupled with videos or images - it helps the tweet be accessible to those who couldn’t follow the event directly themselves. It makes discussion around the live-tweet much more self-sufficient, and drives engagement more than a simple text tweet would.
Live-tweeting is the key to dominating the “second screen” fans are growing so accustomed to. It is the avenue through which you can have your club’s brand be present every time discussion around it arises on Twitter. It invites reactions, discussion, and is a great secondary source of information and updates, which is why every sports team should start making use of it.