The Australian Open has always been the “other” Grand Slam tournament, in large part because most of the matches occur while Americans are snoozing. But this year’s tournament is looking to change that by helping fans feel like they are involved, even if they aren’t there.Among the innovative social media concepts being employed is the Fan Centre, a webpage designed to help fans interact, and Fanbassadors, a group of fans that being called on to help create social buzz about the event.
There is even a “Social Leaderboard” which ranks the players based on the amount of social buzz each is receiving. Currently, Rafael Nadal leads the way, followed by Roger Federer, and Maria Sharapova. And while those players are familiar to the casual sports fan, the rest of the leaderboard is great way to learn which players we should be paying attention to.
The Fan Centre also includes interactive contests, such as “Caption It,” where fans will get a chance to add their own captions to images from the tournament, “Fan of the Day,” and “Changing Ends,” where fans are encouraged to make short films.
In the end, this is likely the direction all major sporting events are heading. The Australian Open has made it possible for fans to feel like they are part of the tournament, even if they are thousands of miles away.
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