Fans to get closer to #Sevens
Tom Chick travels to all nine rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, bringing the fans around the world closer to their heroes and the action on the pitch through social media. Here he looks at the new initiatives for the 15th World Series. You can follow and tweet him your thoughts @tomchick85.
The new HSBC Sevens World Series begins this weekend and with it comes a whole new box of tricks for you the fans to get involved.
Over the past few years in particular we have seen a revolution in the way sport is consumed, moving away from just traditional media towards social media and increasingly towards mobile, and how this in turn is being integrated into the physical world.
In the USA, for example, each of the NBA teams have their Twitter handles on-court and, as we saw last year, the USA Sevens was the first round to have #USA7s as a pitch-painting at the Sam Boyd Stadium, before the Luzhniki Stadium saw #RWC7s on its turf.
There are now more than 200 million active users on Twitter, 40% of whom are sports fans, so it makes sense. Add to that, 86% of sports fans now consume information about sport during work - which I’m sure all your bosses will love to hear.
With 83% of fans now visiting social media platforms to consume sport or following via a second-screen when a match is on TV we are now seeing more integration between social media and broadcast and this year's World Series will be no different.
Not only can fans share their thoughts directly with the commentators, they will have the opportunity to put questions to the players by tweeting them @IRB Sevens or even direct @seblauzier, who interviews the teams for the world feed after every match.
Last season the first-ever IRB Sevens Dream Team was named in London based on the nine individual dream teams chosen by the commentators throughout the season; this year, the fans are going to be at the heart of that selection panel.
Starting this weekend on the Gold Coast, and at each of the eight rounds that follow, fans can take to Twitter at any point over the tournament and nominate a player they think deserves to be in the side using #SevensDreamTeam.
The top seven nominees; three forwards and four backs - will then go to the commentators who will confirm the final Dream Team for that tournament.
In addition, fans will also now be able to vote on their player of the tournament from the players in the dream team. The official Sevens Twitter account @irbsevens will tweet a picture out of the players, and the one who receives the most retweets will become the fans' player of the tournament.
At the end of the 2012/13 Series, you voted for Pedro Leal's try as the fans' favourite try of the season. Again this year you will have the opportunity to vote on this via the official Facebook page and YouTube channel.
After a sporting match or tournament, Instagram has seen an increase of 115% in its usage in the past 12 months*, so accordingly we will be uploading some shots you won't have seen from the tournament to instagram.com/irbrugby.
As if that wasn't enough - you can also tweet @irbsevens any comments to be used on the live blog, keep up-to-date with your side's results on the Sevens Facebook page, watch all of the highlights at youtube.com/irb or download the official app from the i-store.
Across the 2013/14 season our aim is for you the fan to be as involved as possible. If you’re lucky enough to be in the stadium then share your experience with those not so lucky or thousands of miles away watching on TV, or now on their tablet. The social media conversation at each round is almost busy enough to rival the stadium at times.
Just make sure your boss is onside..
* Via @catalystpr_