Rugby World Cup reached a major milestone today when it reached one million “likes” on the official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/rugbyworldcup), also making it the largest Facebook fan page in New Zealand and the largest sports community in Australasia.
Established in September 2009 to coincide with the “Two Years to Go” milestone, the page has grown steadily over the past 18 months, attracting fans from around the world who receive regular updates through their news feeds.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “We are very excited that so many fans have shown their support for the Tournament via our official Facebook page and it is great to see fans from all over the world have joined the community”.
The Rugby World Cup Facebook page allows fans to interact with a range of content and with other fans who have similar interests. Fans can add their own comments, participate in polls and discussions and add their own photos and videos.
“Through social media, we have been able to connect with a new audience for the Tournament, an audience that we know will be the future of the sport in years to come,” added Lapasset.
Fans of the page represent an international melting pot, with no one country accounting for more than 20% of the fan base. The UK has the biggest share of the audience (19%), followed by France (11%), New Zealand (11%), Argentina (8%) and Australia (7%). 55% of fans are under the age of 25.
Shane Harmon, General Manager of Marketing and Communications at Rugby New Zealand 2011 said: “One of the features of Rugby World Cup is the good natured banter and camaraderie among fans of different teams. This passion is very much reflected on our Facebook page.”
“Social media has developed into an integral part of our marketing and communications activities, allowing us to interact with Rugby World Cup fans to a level never before experienced by a Rugby event.”
“Feedback on the page allows us make our content more relevant for fans. It’s also a very important customer service platform where we answer numerous questions on a daily basis.”
In addition to Facebook, Rugby World Cup also has a presence on several other social media sites including Twitter, YouTube (video) and Flickr (photos).
In the lead up to and during the Tournament, the official social media sites will be an integral part of the news service offered to fans, giving them access to Rugby World Cup content including results, interviews, videos, photos, games and more.
Social Media plays an important role in the promotion of sport worldwide and players, coaches and team members will be able to connect with fans via social platforms during RWC 2011.
“We understand the important role that social media plays in the promotion of Rugby around the world. We are happy for players to use social media to share their experiences during Rugby World Cup providing they do so sensibly.”