In the past the closest we have come to seeing sports stars is on TV. But today, Social Media is now offering a sneak peek at their personal life and practice sessions. What else could be a better place to interact with your sports heroes?
Saina Nehwal, the first Indian to win a medal in Badminton at the Olympics, has developed a deep connection with her fans by engaging them with real time updates on social media. The Hyderabad Hotshots’ captain had been using Twitter to unfold all the action from the Indian Badminton league IBL 2013, as it happened.
— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) August 21, 2013
We played as a cohesive unit yesterday!!When we started in the competition,we were not seen as a threat! But now, we are the team to beat
— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) August 29, 2013
— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) August 31, 2013
In this interview, Saina answers all my questions on badminton, social media, engaging with her fans, and more!
1. What was your primary reason to get on social media? What is your approach towards it?
My intention was to generate an interest in sports within people, particularly in badminton. I wanted to make it easier for people to look for my game, follow it, stay fit and healthy; and I hoped that the younger generation may even be inspired to take it up as a profession. I am happy, and very grateful to all the people who like my Facebook page and follow it.
2. Which is your favorite social network and why?
I prefer Facebook. A majority of the people seem to like it, and that’s where I too enjoy their love and their response to me as a badminton player. They follow my game and it makes me extremely happy.
3. How does social media help in boosting your personal brand? How has it helped you professionally?
I am not interested in boosting myself as a brand. I am only interested in ensuring that the people who follow me on social media look at it in a positive way and take the right message.
4. How does social media help you in engaging with your fans? How often do you interact with them?
I think it is my fans’ own instinct that they pursue me on social media; they like me! I am able to log into my site 2-3 times a day, because the rest of the day I remain busy in my game. So the time I am able to give to my fans is limited. But I did have a chat on Rediffmail after the Olympics and one on Facebook, recently. Even with the unavailability of enough time, it was quite enjoyable.
5. What was the response of the Facebook chat with your fans?
There was a mammoth response; and I was overwhelmed with their love and affection to a badminton player. I thank them all individually.
6. Do you monitor the entire buzz on social media happening around you? How do you do that?
As I said earlier, I log in 2 -3 times a day and enjoy.
7. What are your views about celebrity endorsements on social media?
This is a question that will be better analysed by people involved in this line. I have a very limited knowledge of it.
8. Have you been offered an x amount to talk about a brand on social media? If yes, can you give us more details?
No. Someone did try to get in touch with me; but I was busy with the IBL tournament.
9. Your autobiography is out in the stands. What is the role of social media in promoting the book?
When the autobiography was released, I told my fans about it, on Facebook. Let me see, about 8 thousand people say that they have read it. We should get the market report from Penguin to confirm!
10. Any funny or remarkable instances that you remember?
People advise me like a sister, a daughter, and as a friend to concentrate more and more and make them proud.
11. Could you please introduce the team who is helping you with your social media activities?
12. What advice would you want to give out to any new sportsperson on social media?
Be positive and stay dedicated! But remember, your studies are equally important.
Saina has been keeping her fans glued on Social Media and her popularity in the digital sphere has been growing after the IBL tournament. She also celebrated her victory with her Facebook fans with an exciting week #SevenDaysWithSaina!
Here are some detailed statistics of her Facebook Page by Socialbakers.
Social media has become one of the biggest factors in establishing a celebrity’s image! And Saina has been leveraging it effectively to get closer to her fans!