During the last past five years snooker in general has come a long way in terms of fan interaction, with the rise of social media and the power of the internet allowing us to get closer to the world’s leading players than ever before.
While a number of players have undoubtedly boosted their profiles due to their online presence, few can claim to have gone as far as Shaun Murphy, who this week added Instagram to his social media portfolio.
Long time readers of this blog will know that one of my gripes when it comes to snooker on the internet is how few of the top players have their own website, which I have always found to be bizarre in this day and age.
Even in 2015, pickings are still slim and there are a number of players ranked inside the top ten who do not have their own websites. Indeed, if I was asked to name my top five greatest ever snooker players, none of the names that I would answer with have their own site and I can’t think of another sport that I could say the same about.
All of which makes the efforts of Shaun Murphy all the more laudable, as he not only has a slick regularly updated website, but recently launched both YouTube and Instagram accounts to go with his long-standing Twitter account.
One of the things that appealed so much to me when I first started attending snooker tournaments and indeed, partly led to me creating this blog was how close you could get to the players at tournaments and in 2015 I remain a firm believer that fan interaction with the top players is something that can play an important role in the development of interest in the sport.
Judging by a quick look at the results for my PSB survey, which I will be publishing imminently, readers seem to agree and Shaun’s efforts are reflected in his popularity.
Of course, Shaun is not the only one and a couple of days ago the man who beat him to the world title this year at the Crucible, Stuart Bingham also unveiled his new website. Mark Selby has long since had a very good website, as have the likes of Neil Robertson and until recently Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Further down the rankings too, rookie pro Gareth Allen has a good website which he recently told me on Twitter he set up in order to attract a sponsor and his initiative was rewarded by duly obtaining one within half an hour of the site going live.
There are a few other exceptions and of course some players, notably Mark Williams (who also comes out of my survey very well), who are able to interact with their fans effectively through social media, rather than having their own personal site.
Still though, I continue to be surprised by how few of the sport’s top players have their own homepages, which makes ultimately makes the efforts of the likes of Murphy even more well received.