The rise of the digital tennis player
A change is happening. A fundamental shift which will alter the fabric of society. Our relationships, our habits, our private and public lives will be upended and re-cast in new forms. It’s impossible to overstate the magnitude of the seismic disruption that’s taking place around the world. I’m talking about the digital transformation that will transform all our lives. Internet of things, robotic artificial intelligence & of course how we interact and consume information.
Let me talk about how this all affects the tennis sport
The digital tennis player is coming!
I’m not talking about Sir Andy Murray’s journey to become the new No. 1 here. The seismic shift is happening around the court. It’s the way audiences consume, interact and absorb tennis. It’s what big brands look for when seeking to commercially collaborate with young and upcoming athletes.
The next generation of tennis fans, consumers and players in general is more and more ignoring traditional media power structures and building their own way to approach the world. Do a simple check – are your children watching more TV or do they pick and choose their very own You Tube channels? Do they consume their news from the Sunday Papers or via their mobile & within their peer groups? Have you seen Federer training live via Periscope?
Young tennis fans ignore traditional marketing!
Young audiences are fed up of being “talked at” or “sold to”, and have begun to ignore traditional marketing approaches. Instead, online influencers are increasingly holding the power to influence purchasing decisions – and more and more tennis brands are waking up to the fact that they need to fundamentally change the way they engage with their consumers. My boys – via tennis Brothers , for example, are influential to their audience of 50.000+ followers.
The traditional way young tennis players seek to build their talent into a career would be to apply for grants and seek sponsorship. Because competing at an international level is expensive, not only do professionals need to fund their own travel and living costs, they also need to find the cash to pay for an entire team.
To establish an equal playing field, a young tennis talent needs to find more than US$160,000 per year – which is why only 1.8 percent of all professional male tennis players turned a profit in 2013. The grants that are available are limited and, as you probably expect, incredibly competitive. Then there’s price money, but price money is concentrated more and more at the top of the sport – in 2014, the top one percent of male players received 62 percent of the available price money
Being authentic towards your community is key!
So one has to embrace the new world of social media to do things differently. Forward looking brands have realized that it’s the true engagement with fans and followers that really counts. Authenticity is key – out goes the polished big brand advertisement - in comes the Instagram picture showing the tennis journey as it is. That’s what we do at tennis Brothers. Felix and Lucian are real - they are not acting.
Over the last 18 months, under the startup brand tennis Brothers they’ve already built up a substantial online following. We now have more than 50.000 followers across various social media platforms, including 42.000 on Instagram. On a daily basis we get more than 1,000 engagements in the form of views, likes and comments. Why people follow us? Because we are authentic in what we do, entertaining (hopefully) & we engage with everyone who wants to talk to us.
Our digital activities have a few things in common & brands looking out for these:
· Our community get authentic stories & they are part of our tennis journey.
· Everyone has the ability to actively engage and react daily with new developments in our life.
· Brands get the opportunity to tap into an existing community, joining the dialogue alongside us and becoming part of the “family”.
· Companies can reach out to new audiences to start a meaningful dialogue and over time also increase there own, social reach and footprint. They’re seen as helping, not intruding.
So that’s how we’re approaching this new world. I’ll keep you updated on our unique experiment and its results.
Are you ready to become a social influencer in the tennis area?