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NEW DELHI: As India is set to host 14th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL), social media and digital platforms have put in place initiatives and activities to keep users engaged.

“Social media has a bigger role to play to provide live entertainment experience to cricket lovers as they are not allowed to be in stadiums," said Shradha Agarwal, strategy head and COO, Grapes Digital, an integrated communications agency. New features and activities help them increase time spent on their platforms.

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“These include Instagram/Facebook live, Facebook watch parties (in which multiple users can watch a video together and interact with each other in real time). Digital platforms also leverage the FOMO (fear of missing out) especially among young users by constantly sharing trivia, opinions and interesting memes which keeps them hooked online," she added.

Facebook is focusing heavily on the use of video formats including Facebook Watch, IGTV, and Reels on Instagram to connect with fans during IPL.

Sandeep Bhushan, head of global marketing solutions (GMS) at Facebook India, said fan engagement on Facebook and Instagram starts well before the tournament, with IPL teams sharing stories around players through Facebook Watch, Reels and IGTV.

“The content will now move to match updates, memes on trending moments, and programmed content, like commentator Akash Chopra‘s popular series on Facebook Watch and IGTV called ‘Aakashvani’. Additionally, Instagrammers are already engaging with cricket and player content," he added.

During IPL 2020, Facebook said, as many as 10 million mentions related to league were made on its platform, with 74% of the people in the 18-34 age group talking about IPL. The most mentioned teams were Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Chennai Super Kings. The most mentioned players were Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Chris Gayle.

Known for kick-starting trends, Twitter said it witnessed 23% year-on-year jump in cricket-season related conversations in 2020. The micro-blogging platform said 51% fans come to Twitter to read posts about matches, players and news reports; 25% of them plan to engage with Tweets during the match whereas 21% engage after that action. Around 31% plan to watch videos while 25% are looking to follow their favourite teams.

Twitter wants to build on this interest. Apart from introducing dedicated emojis for each of the teams, Twitter said people can leverage ‘Cricket Topic’ feature to stay updated on latest conversations. Recently, Mumbai Indians used Twitter‘s newest audio-based offering, Spaces, to hold a conversation with cricketer Zaheer Khan.

“In addition to all this, fans can watch out for live Q&A sessions and several #OnlyOnTwitter activations with their favourites and engage with them directly, one-on-one. To stay up to date with the latest on-field and off-field action, Twitter will also be introducing a dedicated Events Page for the cricket season," said a Twitter spokesperson.

Google is said to be working on an experiential initiative around IPL which it plans to launch soon, though the company did not respond to Mint's queries.

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