For the first time for a Rugby World Cup tournament, social media was actively used to showcase Rugby’s flagship event and allow fans from around the world to participate in a global online community.
Social Media has shaped the way in which tournament organisers and indeed the sport as a whole, now connects with the millions of fans, both existing and those new to the sport.
For a full break down of RWC social media stats, please view the slide show below:
For the Tournament’s Organisers, Rugby World Cup’s social media strategy began in September 2009 when it established an official presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr coinciding with the Two Years to Go milestone.
The sites steadily gathered momentum in the build up to RWC 2011 with regular videos, photos, tweets, discussions, polls, news, games and competitions.
The challenge for major events, and particularly those on a four year cycle is that traditionally they incur a massive peak in interest and fan engagement for a short period during the event. Maintaining interest in the interim period has been more difficult.
The rise of social media however, allows fans to connect with the Tournament in ways they have never been able to before, getting a glimpse behind the scenes with instant and priority access to content and most importantly engaging them much earlier in the process than had been possible before.
The sites also had an important commercial role for the Tournament with Facebook becoming the number one driver of traffic to the ticketing website (outside of internal and search referrals).
Above all, the sites generated a lot of conservation, both between organisers and fans and amongst fans themselves.
Over 1.46 million fans came together via the official Rugby World Cup Facebook page to share their Tournament experience and connect with other fans. Prior to the start of the Tournament the page already had 1.2 million “likes” from fans across the globe. This gradual build differs to the Tournament website (www.rugbyworldcup.com) which sees a dramatic spike in traffic every four years during the Tournament.
The demographics of the sites show that a younger breed of Rugby fan is emerging and suggests that social media may be the key to connecting with a new generation of fans.
Traffic on all social media sites peaked during the Tournament connecting fans who were in New Zealand and those who were watching from afar. Tournament highlights included:
Now that the 2011 Tournament has been and gone, fans can still continue to be a part of the Rugby World Cup journey as the sites transition to England 2015 and eventually Japan 2019. We can only imagine what the future of social media will hold for Rugby!
You can be a part of the official Rugby World Cup community at: