During this year’s race the cycling fans didn’t always get spoilt with action packed racing, but what did the race offer fans in terms of social content? I had a look at the content shared by riders and teams during the Tour de France to see who deserved to win the yellow jersey and team classification for best content.
So how did I judge the riders or teams on their social content? Simply by holding it against what I think every brand should do when being active on social media: being consistent in sharing an authentic, personal story in an engaging way so it connects with the target audience. From here I went through Twitter timelines, Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and Snapchats to look who uses social this way.
Almost every rider in the peloton is active on one or more social media platforms. I noticed the riders used social as a tool to interact with their audience for several different reasons.
After Chris Froome famously ran up Mont Ventoux several riders took to Twitter to voice their opinion on the event happened.
Others used it to spread fun facts about their teammates, like Greg Henderson on Thomas de Gendt. It gives fans that little bit of extra information they would never know without his teammate sharing it.
#2. @DeGendtThomas never get massage. Ever. Likes the tension on his legs.
— Greg Henderson (@Greghenderson1) July 21, 2016
Some riders made a great effort to provide daily updates for their fans. Like Rui Costa posting a daily (Portugese) blog on his website and Facebook page. Or Geraint Thomas sharing one of his daily GIFs to express how he felt during the race.
— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) July 22, 2016
A less known rider who consistently shared his story with the world was Norwegian Vegard Breen. By using a smart template, see below, he shared his adventure of each stage with a quote and rating of the day. Easy to digest, creative and consistent. Well done from this Tour debutant!
But the best content by a rider this Tour de France for me came from the actual yellow jersey winner: Chris Froome. Everyday there was at least one new post on his social media accounts with an update on the race. And most of the times he was quick with an update as well. When everyone wanted to know what would happen after the Mont Ventoux stage, he broke the news on the jury verdict.
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) July 14, 2016
He mixed his posts up nicely as well. Sometimes funny with a little dance in the team bus on Vine, sometimes insightful with his breakfast on Twitter, or a personal photo on Instagram. To finish it all off everyone could join the celebrations in Paris via Snapchat. Great stuff and behind-the-scenes content that fans love to see from a top athlete like Froome.
But to say in Team Sky vocabulary, there are still some marginal gains to obtain for him. A personal reply to a fan every now and then would make fans feel even more engaged with him. And in terms of distributing his content, he might want to have a look at his website so fans will actually be able to find this relevant content there as well.
It looks like it’s getting harder for teams to distinguish themselves from other teams on social media. All teams give you race updates, share great action photos of their riders and show off their shiny equipment to promote sponsors.
— Equipe FDJ (@EquipeFDJ) July 17, 2016
Still, a few teams managed to set themselves apart from the rest by focussing on what makes them unique compared to others. A few examples.
First of all, Orica Bike-Exchange. For years already, the team presents itself as a close laid-back group of friends with a shared passion in cycling. Their own produced daily backstage pass videos prove this time and time again. A hit among cycling fans. If you’re unknown to the format: each day the team makes a 5-10 minute item that takes the viewer behind the scenes. Preparations in the team bus, soigneurs handing out food bags in the feed zone or post-race reactions; it’s all there. Fans love it and the team is in control over the message send to their audience.
Secondly, Team Giant-Alpecin. On its website the team states: “It’s our mission to progress the sport of cycling. We are pushing the limits of technology, innovation and athletic achievement. Our challenge is to inspire cyclists all around the world.” The team succeeds in translating this mission in to their social media outings accompanied by the #KeepChallenging. Whether it is through their daily videos this Tour de France or infographics shared, it adds up as prove in what they claim doing.
— Team Giant-Alpecin (@GiantAlpecin) July 21, 2016
And finally, the team that stood out for me this Tour was Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. The whole team is built around the strong identity of being Africa’s team and the believe that #BicyclesChangeLives. This translated in to several strong forms of content next to the usual race information that kept fans updated.
For example, the team and Qhubeka foundation, who donate bikes to kids in Africa, shared the letters written by kids to their riders on how their effort is making a difference in their lives. Content that is unique, engages and tells a story.
Furthermore, the Instagram account of the team contains exactly what Instagram is meant for. Stunning photos of the team, riders that give off that cycling vibe while subtle references are made to being Africa’s team.
Also, smart little animations were used every now and then to highlight some performances.
— Team Dimension Data (@TeamDiData) July 2, 2016
In summary, they managed to consistently bring across their reason for existence and engaged fans in the process. Winner.
So what to take from this Tour de France? I feel teams and riders in cycling are noticeable maturing in their social media activities and it’s great to see some of them being really conscious about how they can tell their own story while engage with their fans. I hope other teams and riders dare to not just blindly follow the wheel in front of them, but determine their own unique route to social success.