tweeting le tour: connecting the tour de france’s global audience through twitter

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Tweeting le Tour: Connecting the Tour de France’s global audience through Twitter Tim Highfield, Axel Bruns, and Stephen Harrington ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, Australia t.highfield | a.bruns | s.harrington @ @timhighfield | @snurb_dot_info | @_StephenH

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Paper presented at the ECREA conference, Istanbul, Turkey, 25 October 2012.


  • 1. Tweeting le Tour:Connecting the Tour deFrances global audiencethrough TwitterTim Highfield, Axel Bruns, and Stephen HarringtonARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and InnovationQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbane, Australiat.highfield | a.bruns | s.harrington @ [email protected] | @snurb_dot_info | @_StephenH
  • 2. OVERVIEW The Tour de France as both a sporting contest and media (televised) event Different ways of viewing the race as a competition, as a ritualised broadcast The global audience and social media Does tweeting about the same event connect Twitter users around the world? Common features in tweeting patterns among the Tours Twitter audience Different ways of framing the Tour through social media
  • 3. SPORTS AND TWITTER Social media increasingly used by sportspeople Self-promotion, brand management Commentary on competition, training Interactions with other athletes, fans Twitter offers visible connections between spectators, sportspeople, and broadcasters as @mentions create links to other accounts - even if replies not forthcoming Sports events also among most popular topics covered on Twitter (Olympics, FIFA World Cup) High volumes of tweets, frequent updates
  • 4. LIVE TELEVISION EVENTS ON TWITTER Watching events as they occur crucial for tweeting about them Twitter acts as a virtual loungeroom for television audiences Broadcasters incorporate tweets into shows, online coverage Avoiding spoilers, results from sports broadcast on delay 140 character limit, use of hashtags make Twitter a popular tool for public discussions around television broadcasts Automatic creation of links for each hashtag connects tweets to wider coverage of ongoing events Does not require users to be following each other Broadcasters promote show-specific (and even broadcaster- specific) hashtags
  • 5. METHODS Part of wider, ongoing research into Twitter activity (Mapping Online Publics): Tracking of keywords / hashtags through Twitter API using yourTwapperkeeper. Data captured include text of tweets, URLs, hashtags, @mentions/replies Collected tweets around several hashtags, keywords, and user accounts for a more extensive overview of the Tours coverage on Twitter than provided by a single hashtag; including: Race-specific hashtags (e.g. #tdf, #letour) Keywords (tour de france) Broadcaster-specific hashtags (#sbstdf) Mentions of cyclist Twitter accounts (@bradwiggins, @cadelofficial), teams (@rsnt, @teamsky), commentators (@philliggett, @paulsherwen), non-competing riders/figures (@lancearmstrong)
  • 6. TOUR DE FRANCE 201230 June 22 July 2012198 riders (31 nationalities), 22 teams21 days of racing (two rest days) over 3,497kmBroadcast in 190 countries
  • 7. OVERALL COVERAGE hashtag/keyword total tweets total users peak activity 22 July #tdf (29 June - 23 July) 559,569 145,328 (42,548 tweets) #letour (1 July - 23 July) 11,833 5583 7 July (875 tweets) tour de france 22 July 428,989 224,616 (29 June - 23 July) (37,732 tweets) 18 July#sbstdf (29 June - 23 July) 39,115 3185 (2851 tweets)
  • 8. 0 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 35000 40000 45000 50002012-Jun-292012-Jun-302012-Jul-012012-Jul-022012-Jul-032012-Jul-042012-Jul-052012-Jul-062012-Jul-072012-Jul-082012-Jul-092012-Jul-10 #TDF AS IT HAPPENED2012-Jul-112012-Jul-122012-Jul-132012-Jul-142012-Jul-152012-Jul-162012-Jul-172012-Jul-182012-Jul-192012-Jul-202012-Jul-212012-Jul-22 tweets per day2012-Jul-23
  • 9. #TDF AS IT HAPPENED tweets per hour25000 Stage 2120000 Stage 14 (tacks)1500010000 Stage 7 Prologue 5000 0
  • 10. #TDF, 29 JUNE 23 JULY 2012 general clustering (degree 20+)
  • 11. CLUSTERS AND CONNECTIONS Distinct national clusters sharing common features: Cyclists, teams, commentators from these countries central to @mention/RT network Clusters connected by: Prominent cyclists within race itself Cyclists from one cluster also having some affiliation (often team-based) to another Users (cycling news sites, blogs, as well as teams and riders) with an international audience rather than a national or regional focus
  • 13. 0 10000 12000 14000 2000 4000 6000 80002012-Jul-012012-Jul-022012-Jul-032012-Jul-042012-Jul-052012-Jul-062012-Jul-07 tweets per day, 1 July-23 July2012-Jul-082012-Jul-092012-Jul-102012-Jul-11 TWEETING AT RIDERS:2012-Jul-122012-Jul-132012-Jul-142012-Jul-152012-Jul-16 BRAD WIGGINS (@bradwiggins)
  • 14. 0 1000 1200 200 400 600 8002012-Jul-012012-Jul-022012-Jul-032012-Jul-042012-Jul-052012-Jul-062012-Jul-07 tweets per day, 1 July-23 July2012-Jul-082012-Jul-092012-Jul-10 TWEETING AT RIDERS:2012-Jul-122012-Jul-132012-Jul-142012-Jul-15 CADEL EVANS (@cadelofficial)2012-Jul-162012-Jul-172012-Jul-182012-Jul-192012-Jul-202012-Jul-212012-Jul-222012-Jul-23
  • 15. 0 1000 1200 1400 1600 200 400 600 8002012-Jul-012012-Jul-022012-Jul-032012-Jul-042012-Jul-052012-Jul-062012-Jul-07 tweets per day, 1 July-23 July2012-Jul-082012-Jul-092012-Jul-102012-Jul-11 TWEETING AT RIDERS:2012-Jul-122012-Jul-132012-Jul-142012-Jul-152012-Jul-162012-Jul-172012-Jul-182012-Jul-19 FABIAN CANCELLARA (@f_cancellara)2012-Jul-202012-Jul-212012-Jul-22
  • 16. STYLES OF TWEETS: #SBSTDF Australian broadcaster-specific hashtag Set up for multicultural public service broadcaster SBS and its integrated coverage of the Tour Social hub on website combining Twitter feeds, Facebook comments, blog posts, photos, and video of the race #sbstdf often used alongside #tdf and other related hashtags SBSs long-running coverage of the Tour, featuring recognisable presenters and commentators for regular audience makes each broadcast a familiar event Viewing late at night (10pm-12am/2am local time) Common format across stages (pre-race coverage)
  • 17. #SBSTDF AND TROPES OF THE TOUR Familiarisation with the SBS broadcast also leads to the identification of recurring tropes within coverage Regularly-used phrases, stock images (chateaux, cows, sunflowers), awareness of the different presenters and quirks #sbstdf discussion can be as much fandom for the SBS broadcast as for cycling itself
  • 18. #SBSTDF AND TROPES OF THE TOUR Humour a central part of #sbstdf activity Many of the most retweeted comments light-hearted Fake and satirical accounts set up for SBS presenters (including pre-race chef - @fakegabrielgate) Tropes mix and lead to additional droll content Fake accounts promote bingo card during one stage, based on common phrases used by commentators Liggett and Sherwen
  • 19. JENS VOIGT AS CHUCK NORRIS @JensVoigtFacts Voigts official account: @thejensie @thejensie has a polar bear stretched out on the floor of his den. Its not dead, its just too scared to move. #sbstdf Welcome to viewers in WA. You just missed Jens Voigt riding so hard that a chopper got knocked off course by his wake turbulence. #sbstdf
  • 20. FURTHER OUTLOOK Twitter users commenting on the Tour connected through large (nation- based) clusters Different groups bridged by shared linking to accounts of key cyclists, teams, analysts Volume of tweets directed at riders accounts seems to follow fortunes during race Global audience still appears to be subdivided, though not completely separated Importance of broadcasters to this distribution the Tour as a media event as well as a sporting contest Overlapping views of race fan-athlete communication, sports commentary, television backchannel Tweeting styles beyond Australian context how do different national groups (and the Tours Twitter audience overall) cover the Tour? What do cyclists, teams, commentators tweet about during the race (and beyond)? What patterns of interactions are there between the audience, the competitors, and the broadcasters?
  • 21.[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]