Making Waves With Athlete-Generated Content
Formerly known as the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), World Aquatics is the sole and exclusive world governing body for all aquatic events. It represents 209 National Member Federations across five continents, covering the sporting disciplines of Swimming, Water Polo, Diving, High Diving, Artistic Swimming And Open Water Swimming.
World Aquatics has been instrumental in fostering the growth of these aquatic sports with events that include the World Aquatics Championships and the Swimming World Cup. It liaises with athletes, national federations, and media partners to govern, organise, develop and manage aquatic events as well as ensure the seamless distribution of content.
Athletes are the central focus of the World Aquatics mission and this is reflected in the way the organisation has reinvented its media asset management platform with Imagen.
In the past, World Aquatics didn’t have an athlete-centered digital strategy and its relationships with athletes and national federations were limited to institutional and competition matters.
“The main challenge was with the athletes,” says Luca Fasani, Digital Manager at World Aquatics, speaking at the SVG Europe Sport Production Summit 2023.
“We didn’t have any way to deliver content to them. Secondly, we know that through the National Federations, we can reach a much wider audience and [drive] better awareness. So we needed a tool that could make this content alive for them.”
Given the vast number of national federations under the World Aquatics umbrella, and the increasing influence of athletes as media entities, there was a pressing need for a robust solution that could cater to these diverse stakeholders.
Recognising the evolving demands of content distribution, World Aquatics embarked on a transformative journey with Imagen. The goal was to reinvent its approach to content creation, utilisation, and distribution, aiming to establish a platform where athletes could access content directly, enabling them to amplify their stories through their networks and social media accounts.
“We let athletes access the platform,” explains Luca Fasani, “which was not the case in the past when we were using Imagen mainly for sharing and selling video clips [to] broadcasters.” And there’s an interesting reason behind this strategic shift. “We had a workshop with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in preparation for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” Fasani reveals. “And I would say the main concept they were presenting was that, for the next Olympic Games, they will identify the athletes as publishers, basically defining a new media category.”
With this in mind, content creation can work both ways with athletes accessing official photos and video almost instantly to promote on their social channels, yet also using their own behind-the-scenes content for promotion. This can sometimes prove tricky to navigate, however. As Luca Fasani explains: “Athletes don’t know what rights they have in terms of video production. So sometimes they go live on Instagram, filming the venue, and it was like: ‘you can’t do that!’ Of course, we always try to brief the athletes to make sure that they are not infringing rights reserved for our broadcasters.”
But when it works, this user generated content can forge a deeper emotional connection with audiences by tapping into more authentic moments from World Aquatics events.
Results and Benefits
EVOLUTION OF CONTENT MANAGEMENT
“We had to transform and reshape [the] way [we] create content and distribute content throughout our stakeholders. Thanks to Imagen… we have a trusted partner for this revamped distribution process. Videos and photos are now sent across national federations, athletes, coaches, media [and] broadcasters.”
“How can we deliver the photos or video of a medal ceremony or a competition to an athlete [at] the right time to let them use this content for social media? If we can provide better content, we will have more engagement, more reach [and] more awareness for our events and for our organisation.”
ADAPTABILITY AND OPTIMISATION
“We started using Imagen for a more traditional purpose of archiving videos from our events. Later, by collaborating closely with the Imagen team, we reshaped the main functionalities of the platform to make it fit for purpose for our athletes and other stakeholders.”
A TRUE PARTNERSHIP WITH IMAGEN
“In a big transformation process… the tendency is to just change everything. What I managed to achieve with my team was to do an assessment - see what we have, [and] what [could] be done better. Maybe there [was] no need to change everything… Imagen was very much ready and responsive to take on this challenge and come to us with solutions.”
“One of the best videos we shared last year on our social media came from the World Aquatics short course swimming Championships 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. Right after a medal ceremony, behind the podium, a swimmer decided to give her medal to one of the basket carrier kids, who was speechless of course. This moment was very emotional and we were able to catch it thanks to another athlete, who filmed what happened. These are the stories we want to share and it was possible only by the exchange of content with our athletes.”Luca Fasani, World Aquatics