How the Six Nations builds up to the tournament on social media

For rugby in the Northern Hemisphere, this is usually the biggest week in the sport’s calendar. Yes, there’s a World Cup later in the year and this year’s Six Nations is a preamble to the showdown in Japan in the Autumn, but Europe’s international rugby competition still has a pride of place in the hearts of rugby fans.

Aside of the rugby, the beauty of the tournament is that it is a month and a half of regional rivalry. And while the tournament may – on paper – peak early with England visit to Ireland on opening weekend, there’s no doubt that when the time England Scotland or Italy France come around there’ll be more fireworks. Few things light the fires of passion like a derby in sport, and few tournaments channel that every single year into a battle between nations.

The build up has begun.

This month, the Six Nations launched their spanking new website in time for the tournament, and the talk has started on Twitter in the week leading up to Friday night’s big kick off. When Wales take on France in the opening game, it’ll be the two dark horses of the Six Nations and will set a fiery tone for the games to come and the weekend will end with a clash between the two tournament favourites. Few tournaments have ever been so ripe for build-up.

That means there’s a huge scope for the tournament organisers to capitalise on the hype by creating lots of content of their own, and that’s just what they’ve been doing.

So far, the Six Nations has been incredibly active on social media, posting numerous times a day on Twitter. If this were the account of a team, you might even argue it’s too much, but the Six Nations has a duty to cover all of its teams – and each one represents an opportunity to build excitement and gather eyeballs before the big kick-off.

So what sort of content are they producing?

The key for many organisations both inside and outside sport (but especially rights holders, publishers and broadcasters) is how much content is left online and how much social media activity is designed to drive traffic back to a website – which is owned and operated.

On Twitter, that’s very much a consideration. Every tweet is an opportunity to drive traffic to the site through a link placed in the copy, but on Instagram that’s not an option. Content there has to be tailor made for the platform and is a standalone piece rather than something designed to move people to a different site.

That doesn’t mean everything on Twitter should be designed to drive linkbacks of course – engagement there is important, too. And as the #GuinnessSixNations hashtag (and subsequent harp emoji) shows, that’s where value can be driven for sponsors.

Presumably, however, this is designed to come into its own when the rugby actually starts and fans themselves start to use the official hashtag to talk about the games while they’re happening.

Some elements are standard, though. Stats pieces, build-up interviews, features on captains, interesting players and coaches are all staples of the content production machine these days and have to be created as these are what fans expect.

On the other hand, there’s more to the Six Nations than most tournaments.

Sports like football have a culture of away fans, but few tournaments appeal to the idea of travel as much as the Six Nations.

A weekend break in any of the cities hosting games is a great idea. Rome, Paris, London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Cardiff are great destinations for anyone in Europe thanks to cheap flights and the fact that these are all beautiful and vibrant places to spend a few days.

Couple it with a rugby game and a group of friends or family and you really are onto something.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the Six Nations have jumped on this to use the idea of travel and tourism as a means of selling their product to fans. Beyond the central pillars of great sport and national pride, the great cities involved coupled with the fact that games take place at the weekend means there’s a real opportunity for fans to make the most of it.

With just a few days to go, we’re not the only ones looking forward to the action getting underway in Paris on Friday night!

Don’t forget Digital Sport London’s rugby event on February 26th with Six Nations, World Rugby and the EPCR – get your ticket below!

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 831 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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