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How “The Match” Helped Golf Reach New Heights on Social Media

“The Match,” featuring a one-on-one faceoff between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on pay-per-view, was a first of its kind. Streamed through Bleacher Report and BR Live, fans could follow through unique camera angles, mic’d up players, and many other features never seen in a golf event before. Plus, Tiger and Phil gambled on holes and different shots during the event.

While the execution of the event fell under some scrutiny, the social activity around it trended on Twitter all afternoon on Friday, November 23. Thanks to five(!) hashtags (with emojis) associated with the event, alongside a Twitter poll and two of the biggest names in the sport, The Match had everything in place to tap all digital touchpoints.

This also had the potential of capturing a different audience than golf might have had before: Casual golf fans. Fans of sports betting. Bleacher Report’s massive digital audience. All these people could have fallen under the target market of The Match.

After assessing all tweets sent on November 23, 2018 that included the five hashtags surrounding this event along with mentions of Tiger and Phil, we found some interesting results and takeaways from both the posts produced and the audience talking about the event.

Post Summary

  • Organic Tweets: 57.6K
  • Social engagements (Retweets, likes, replies): 204.5K
  • People reached: 93M
  • Twitter impressions: 659.3M
  • Impression value: $3.4M


analysis of social posts around the match

 
The top tweet from the event was from Houston Texans Defense End J.J. Watt talking about The Match and betting, something that would’ve been frowned upon in years past.

News sites “Golfweek” and “Golf Digest” posted about the event the most, while the PGA Tour wielded the most influence over the conversation, despite have been mentioned less than Bleacher Report.
 


Below are the most popular hashtags used around The Match. The Top 5 were dominated by hashtags with emojis attached to them. #TheMatch was used in 70% of all tweets. Note how the hashtag associated with the presenting sponsor (Capital One), used heavily by all Turner Sports accounts, fell significantly behind the ones that were easier to remember.
 

ranking of the top hashtags around the match

 
Note #CapitalOnesTheMatch as well; this hashtag was heavily used in the days leading up to the event, thanks to the official Twitter poll that used this hashtag along with #TeamTiger and #TeamPhil. Celebrity influencers and brand sponsors posted about the event using this, too. However, it was abandoned during the actual event itself (after 3:00 PM ET) for terms that were easier to type out (and therefore preferred) by the mass audience.

 

hashtag use over time around the match

 

Audience Summary

Looking at the audience tweeting about this event, there were some interesting distinctions between The Match audience and the average golf fan on Twitter (based on a sampling of 2.1 million Twitter users who identify as golf fans).

Focusing on social media behavior, people that tweeted about The Match are more likely to be a fan of mainstream U.S. Sports than the average golf fan.

 

comparison report of audiences interest in mainstream sports

 

They are also more likely to follow “non-traditional” story and content-driven sports accounts on Twitter, such as Barstool Sports, Skratch, Deadspin, and The Players Tribune.

 

interest-in-barstool-sports-comparison

 
Focusing on demographics, men mostly tweeted about The Match and are more likely to fall into the category of “Gen-X” or “Baby Boomer” than the average golf fan. They are also much more likely to be married with kids.
 

marital status of the people who watched the match

 
Focusing on brand affinities (or potential sponsorship opportunities), those who tuned into The Match associate with and are more interested in certain industries than the average golf fan, including:

  • Quick service restaurants
  • Automotive brands
  • Fantasy leagues
  • Grocery chains
  • Watches

Brand Summary

Here’s a list of the top brands mentioned during the event. Capital One, the sponsor of The Match, was the most mentioned brand behind Bleacher Report and the PGA Tour. Callaway Golf also made a significant impact, thanks to being aligned with Phil Mickelson and tweeting about the event.

 

top brands mentioned in tweets about the match

 
Below are the top food and beverage brands, a popular category in sports sponsorship, that were mentioned. Monster Energy and Buffalo Wild Wings took the top spots; Tiger Woods’ bag had a Monster Energy logo on it and despite not tweeting about The Match, people still took notice. Sports fans also associate Buffalo Wild Wings with “overtime” and since this went into a playoff, people thought B-Dubs “was behind it.”
 

top food brands mentioned in tweets about the match

 

Key Takeaways

After assessing the Twitter activity around The Match, below are some key takeaways for both sports teams, event organizers, and corporate brands:

  • Just because you don’t activate digitally doesn’t mean you won’t see digital benefits. Look at Monster Energy: Because of Tiger’s golf bag, people took notice of them and were chatting about them online. Monster appeared in digital videos and photos. Imagine how much more powerful it would have been if Monster had engaged on digital on the day of the event. Never forget your digital audience, as they are becoming more and more important by the day.
  • Reduce the noise and try to centralize conversation as best as possible. Five hashtags with emojis were used in association with this event. Ultimately, this led to too many people using too many different terms. Avoid using too many hashtags in your social campaigns. Otherwise, the casual end-user won’t know which to use and will revert to the easiest one to write (#TheMatch instead of #CapitalOnesTheMatch).
  • The modern fan consumes content and demands a different story than a more traditional sports-loving audience. Look at the accounts that consumers of The Match, a new way of presenting sports, follow more heavily than the average golf fan. They tend to gravitate towards storytelling platforms with personality that do a great job of setting a scene before an event. Make sure your fans know your story. Also, for brands, it may be wise to partner yourself with unique branded content around a sporting event instead of just doing physical activations.

The Match is potentially the first of many sporting events of this nature and may evolve how we consume sports. With the evolution of sports betting and the power of storytelling, look for ways to change how they serve these events to the end-user and how corporate partners will look to intelligently align with them.

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