July 18 2017

Talk the Talk: Wimbledon Fans Serve Up Their Favorite Emojis & Hashtags

Thought Leadership, UK, Netbase, Tennis, Social Media, Digital

Wimbledon -- one of the most august and tradition-laden sporting events – has concluded after two weeks of tiebreaks, upsets, aces and volleys. Rather than join the TV experts to talk match points, double faults and Pimm’s, Octagon Chief Strategy Officer Simon Wardle partnered with Netbase to take a closer look at the top emojis and hashtags used by fans to express their excitement, frustration and adoration for all things Wimbledon.

A Signature Event – Dating back to 1877, it is a long standing Wimbledon tradition to serve strawberries and cream to Wimbledon spectators.  So it's no wonder that fans made the strawberry one of the top 10 emojis used over the course of Wimbledon. 

The notion of marquee sporting events having their own signature – whether it be food, a song, or any tradition that sets it apart from comparable events – helps create deeper connections between the fan and the property that fuels engagement and helps marquee events transcend sport into pop culture. As an industry we are seeing more and more properties adding culinary-based events to increase fan engagement beyond the actual sporting event, including Taste of the NFL at Super Bowl or the Octagon-managed BITE NWA in conjunction with one of the LPGA tour stops. Brands should take note of this trend and consider incorporating these unique elements into their event campaign via activation, messaging and creative.


Playing Favorites – Octagon’s Passion Drivers® proprietary research tells us that “Player Affinity” is among the top three factors that drives fan passion for tennis – and the social content from Wimbledon supports it.  Of the top 10 hashtags used over the Wimbledon fortnight, six were directly related to specific players.  Men’s champion Roger Federer accounts for two in the top 10, both #federer and #rogerfederer were included in more than 70,000 combined posts. The women players drove plenty of social media dialogue too, both #johannakonta and #venuswilliams cracked the top 10 hashtags. From a brand perspective, this underscores the importance of athlete brand ambassadors to compliment a tennis-based marketing platform and also indicates a key difference between team and individual sports properties.

Octagon Broadcast client Chris Fowler gets into the emoji game: 



Location, Location, Location – Each of tennis’ Grand Slam tournaments has distinct character and traditions, and each has its own permanent home. There was no shortage of hometown pride and buzz emanating from Centre Court. Both UK athletes, Andy Murray and Johanna Konta (an Octagon Tennis client), saw their namesake hashtags in the top ten, along with #London.  The emojis list reflects the same, with the UK flag as one of the Top 10 emojis over the course of the event.  These results are likely a combination of the event location in London, England, as well as strong play from two hometown athletes. Brands looking to engage with consumers should be mindful of how local athletes can help amplify messaging, and how to appeal to the local pride associated with hosting a major sporting event. Brands looking to tap into local pride, should never underestimate the power of a national flag (and there is no need to pay for the IP rights of a national flag 😉).

As we look ahead to the U.S. Open in September, we’ll likely see #NewYork and the U.S. flag play a prominent role in the social media conversation.


Self Expression – Netbase’s list of top emojis includes two different skin tone modifiers ranked in the top 20. This reinforces that fans are embracing opportunities to customize their social content and emojis in order to better reflect themselves as fans.  For brand marketers, consider how your sports and entertainment campaigns are providing consumers with opportunities to showcase their diversity and fandom alongside their personal identity.


We Love to Win – Humans like to win, so it makes sense that we celebrated the winning moments of Wimbledon. The trophy emoji was the third most-used emoji, second only to the tennis ball & racquet and clapping hands art. Tennis is full of winning moments – ranging from individual points, to sets, matches and championships – so there are plenty of occasions for tennis fans to celebrate and lament. Marketers should consider recognizing those winning moments, or incorporating that winning emotion into their campaigns because – just like national flags – you also do not have to pay any IP rights for emojis so you can save 💰💰💰💰.