#hereifyouneed: An Inside View of Social Media at the Netball World Cup
The Netball World Cup kicked off in Sydney on Friday and it’s been a big four days of the competition so far! The blockbuster game, Australia v New Zealand, took place on Sunday night with New Zealand finally getting a win over Australia after nine straight defeats. This has made predicting the outcome of the Cup much trickier, with four strong contenders in Australia, New Zealand, England and Jamaica.
I arrived in Sydney last Saturday to undertake fieldwork at the Netball World Cup; I will be observing how social media is being coordinated and implemented at the event as well as volunteering as part of the Media & Communications team. My first day kicked off with a training day where we were given tours of the two venues at Sydney Olympic Park (Allphones Arena and Netball Central), briefed on the general activities that would be going on throughout the event, and briefed on our specific roles within the Media & Communications team. We also received our bright pink uniforms (emblazoned with the iconic netball phrase “here if you need,” which the volunteers will adopt as their slogan throughout the event) and the all-important accreditation pass. Volunteers were encouraged to use the #hereifyouneed volunteer hashtag when posting any social media content from their volunteering experiences throughout the event. The training day was also my first day meeting Marketing & Communications Manager Ange Colless and Marketing & Communications Coordinator Laura Macintosh who I would be working with closely throughout the tournament.
Since the competition kicked off on Friday 7th August, my main role in the team is helping out the social media content coordinator and monitoring all posts across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. To set itself apart from other sporting events, the Netball World Cup team aims to respond to all fans that ask a question on any of their social platforms. It is my job to answer all these questions and also keep an eye on what is being said on social media so we can deal with any issues that may arise. This is significantly different to the approach taken by the Asian Cup social media team, which I also observed, as they were more focussed on providing content rather than responding to fans and didn’t spend much time monitoring what fans were saying across each platform.
On the second day of the tournament fans were getting annoyed by a song playing throughout Allphones Arena on repeat during each injury break or time out (there are usually 4-8 of these per game and games had been going all day), and began to make comments on Facebook and Twitter about it. As we were monitoring all fan messages on these platforms we were able to rectify the problem. There was even a cheer from the crowd when we finally got the song changed, and it was likely that the problem would not have been resolved so quickly if we had not acted on the social media messages we were receiving. So while NWC are also focussed on providing content, there is far greater emphasis placed on fan engagement and management then there was at the Asian Cup. The key aim of the Netball World Cup’s content and social media teams is to portray the event in a positive light, so great content and fan management has been shown to be essential so far.
Similar to the Asian Cup team, the Netball World Cup team follow the same basic structure day-to-day when posting on social media, though the content itself changes. We were introduced to the basic structure at the training day, so I will be able to compare how this structure changes depending on the dynamics of the specific day (e.g. if there are high profile games, low profile games, simultaneous games etc.). I’ve also found that there is importance placed on knowing ‘when to flood the feed and when not to’ and to keep a balance between these factors as the event progresses. Although social media content around each game will remain relatively similar for each match, there is likely to be more ‘flooding’ on days where there are a number of high profile matches, so the team takes advantage of days where there are fewer or lower-profile games to avoid too much ‘flooding.’
I will explore these issues and more throughout the next week while I am at the Netball World Cup. As a huge netball fan I will also continue to be in heaven with all the great netball on show.