The AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 in Singapore is different from all others that came before. First, the tournament was delayed by one year due to Covid-19. Second, the event was held in a single host country – as before 2018's edition. Moreover, fans are also limited by various health protocols to prevent the spread of Covid 19, especially amid the high issue of the Omicron variant.
Of course, the Southeast's greatest football tournament was broadcast on television and digital platform. But fans' biggest interest seems to be happening online. For Indonesia, with a population of more than 274 million, of which 73% are active internet users, it's longing for local football is clearly the primary reason why social media reverberation is so strong at this AFF Cup event.
I understand that Liga 1 is back, and a social media echo cluster is forming. However, the reverberation is clearly more excellent at an event representing a country. The fans miss the actions of football heroes, national heroes, and can be called young heroes who, beyond expectations, managed to exceed targets and predictions.
With many young players and limited squad selection (2 players from each club), it's natural that people highly appreciate the Indonesian national team.
While some Thai athletes in the AFF Cup rose to fame by winning gold medals, others won gold medals on social media. Many Indonesian athletes who use Instagram get tremendous growth.
One example is Pratama Arhan. Before the tournament, his followers were 110K, but following his brilliant performance, he caught major attention from the public. As of January 3, 2022, his followers are 2.13 million.
From December 1, 2021, Arhan got around +1.7K% or 2.01 million followers. It must be admitted that the performance in the field also contributed to their growth. Thanks to his goals and assists, he became the tournament's best young player and a vital figure for Indonesia several times.
The Importance of Online Presence
But we also need to look at his digital presence during the tournament. During the tournament, Arhan uploaded at least 2 Instagram posts. Indeed, not as many as Asnawi Mangkualam Bahar (5 posts) performed well during the tournament. Asnawi managed to get +330% growth or 1.02 million followers.
But digital presence during tournaments or leagues is essential. That's when we can get a lot of attention and interaction. Now let's see Rachmat Irianto. He never uploaded any photos or videos on his Instagram feed during the tournament, and you can see how much growth he has in the graph. Unfortunately, he appeared regularly and scored 2 goals in the group stage round but could post any content during the tournament. But I have to respect his decision. It was his choice.
This formula is valid. Very valid. Because I felt it myself during Piala Menpora last year. At that time, football was just coming back, and I really took advantage of my social media to maximize my digital presence for the sake of my social media growth. I entrusted that kind of thing to my personal team. So, I can focus on the game, and the result was I won as a team and as an individual.
Embracing fans through social posts will make them feel a part of the team. In fact, a recent study cited showed that 73% of people share content because it makes them feel connected to others who share their interests and concerns.
We believe social media is a dialogue, not a monologue. Leveraging social media connectivity by engaging in public conversations (in this case, during tournaments) can increase social media reach. Just seize your opporunities.