By Neha Aggarwal
These fans need a platform to interact, share and express their love. For a sport like Table Tennis, which is played world wide, Social Media becomes that platform that brings these fans, athletes and the sport together…
The evolving digital era
Ever since the first browser engine started in 1994, the age of digital media has evolved every decade. With the launch of Google, Amazon and Yahoo!, the 1990s was the age to Explore, Browse and Shop. The 2000s was the era to Search, Participate, Create and Share as social media platforms like facebook (2004), youtube (2005) twitter (2006) gaining traction during that decade, connecting the world in an unbelievably new way. And now, the 2010s, is the era to Discover, Personalize and Mobilize. The launch of apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Yik Yak have revolutionized the way people interacte with everyone and everything around them.
With the changing digital era, communications in the sports industry has also changed. The 24/7/365 communication has empowered not only the fans, but also the athletes, the teams, leagues, sports federations and even the IOC, which was considered conservative in digital communication. (Breaking the stereotype, the IOC launched the “Olympic Channel” immediately after the conclusion of the Olympic games to connect the worldwide audience, especially the millennials, to the Olympic Movement all year round).
Why is the Digital Era important to the sport of Table Tennis?
Currently, the ITTF has 222 member national associations in 6 continents, the highest number of affiliations amongst all the other Olympic sports, equalling volleyball.
All over the world, more than 100 ITTF approved, sanctioned or registered tournaments are being organized annually. If you include the league games in various cities each week, that’s a lot of table tennis content for the audience!
How do you bring this massive content from all these matches to the loyal fans?
How do these fans express their unconditional love to their favorite athletes?
Why are these fans so important?
The big question that arises here is: How do you connect such a worldwide audience?
The word fan finds originates from the Modern Latin word fanaticus, which means “insanely but divinely inspired”.
…and they all come together on:
Social Media is a powerful vehicle that drives sports talk today and the way fans interact with teams, players, personalities and fellow fans. It’s a powerful source for getting news, engaging in topical discussions and following your favorite athlete on a much personal level.
Fans of Zhang Jike from Melbourne to Toronto to Reykjavik to Buenos Aires to Dubai to Delhi (basically the entire planet) want to feel connected to him.
Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube thus become that one spot where fans from these 222 countries can come together, interact and follow the game. Basically, live and breath table tennis all day.
What is the ITTF doing to bring the fans together on social media?
According to Matt Pound, ITTF’s Promotion and Media Manager, “The ITTF’s goal is to provide table tennis fans the most engaging, interesting and up to date social media content on all available platforms. This content is tailored for different markets and covers all the various levels of table tennis fans. From the avid fan that wants to know everything about Ma Long, and the casual fan that enjoys watching viral rallies, the ITTF has you covered.”
With around 1.4 million fans across all social platforms, the ITTF’s media team is working phenomenally to bridge the distance between the athletes, the fans and the sport itself.
The 2016 world championship this January smashed all social and digital records. The hashtag #ITTFWorlds2016 reached over 48.5 million people across ITTF’s social & digital platform. ITTF’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/ITTFWorld) achieved a total of 19,756,881 total reach, and close to 34 million impressions on the ITTF Facebook page, doubling last years record. On ITTF’s Sina Weibo, the Chinese hybrid between Facebook and Twitter, relevant posts using the official hashtag alone, reached over 5.4 million people.
The video below, an incredible rally between Jun Mizutani and Tiago Apolonia reached 8,477,783 people on Facebook, was viewed a total of 1,376,122 minutes and got 2,205,330 Unique Viewers. With these sky rocketing numbers, it is the strongest contender for the “Point of the Year” award.
Undoubtedly, the ITTF is leaving no stone unturned to make the second most widely played sport to the most widely watch sport in the world.
As the age of Internet of Things dawns upon us, people are connected worldwide, 24/7 and are actively communicating on social platforms. With the combination of table tennis’ global appeal and ITTF’s spirited and relentless efforts on social and digital platforms, the day is not far when table tennis will be one of the most widely followed sport in the world.
Till then, keep liking, commenting, sharing and tweeting, because this is the one spot were the world comes together to celebrate the sport of Table Tennis, all over the planet, every single second!!
For the most EXCLUSIVE Table Tennis content, follow ITTF’s social platforms: