Cycling has become the second fastest growing sport in the UK by participation, according to Sport England, and membership at British Cycling has doubled in two years, reaching 100,000. Repucom data also shows that 29% of people in the UK are now interested in cycling, up from 21% in 2011.
British Cycling attempted to translate this rise in popularity into spectator interest during the UCI Track Cycling World Cup, hosted from 5 to 7 December at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark, inside the velodrome that was used at the 2012 Olympics.
Working with Rule 5, the event saw the team deliver a social media campaign which made 128 million impacts on Twitter over the weekend – over 12,000 tweets were generated using the hash tags #twc or #trackworldcup or the phrase “Track World Cup”, reaching 24 million people an average of 5.6 times.
Anna Flanders, cycle sport marketing officer for British Cycling, told Marketing Week: “Our main objective in the run-up to the event was to drive ticket sales at the venue, which was much bigger than Manchester and Glasgow where it has previously been held.
“During the event, we wanted to generate positive engagement outside of the velodrome for people who weren’t able to attend and drive as much awareness and excitement as possible.”
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and a live blog were constantly updated with news and rider announcements, incorporating video content in near real-time as well as interviews with the likes of cycling fan Sir Paul Smith. Paid-for advertising on Facebook was also used to expand the event’s reach.
“We also used social to engage people inside the venue by getting them to tweet pictures and have them appear on the big screen,” Flanders says.
Although the event was streamed live online and on BBC Red Button in the final three days, the campaign was also an effort to create demand for the TV highlights which aired on BBC One on 13 December, a change from last year where the event was aired live on television on Sunday.
Social will continue to play an important role in future campaigns, especially in the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup which will be held in Manchester in April, the next international event British Cycling is working towards.
Flanders also says British Cycling is looking at how it can use the interest created over the Track Cycling World Cup weekend in the UCI Track World Championships at the end of February 2016.
“It will be the biggest event we’ve delivered in London over five days, so we need to figure out how to capture the audience over a longer period of time,” she says.