15th Aug 2019 by Jamal Lawrence

How Social Media Has Transformed The Footballing World - 10Y Insights Blog

Now that the excitement of the transfer window is over, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to bless your screens with some more football talk - just because you can never have too much footy chatter.

Social media’s introduction into the footballing world was a welcomed process, with teams slowly getting to grips with the capabilities each networking platform has. Throughout the years, the footballing world has seen a massive change in how social media can be used. Journalists began to make a real name for themselves through their knowledge, blog writing and being ‘in the know’ with secretive footballing news. Social media has built up many journos, but has also seen the decline of many established writers. Reputation is key in the industry and the online world people often leaves people battling to be the first to leak news that may not be common knowledge. Many journos have leaked information in the race to be the first and found their reputation shattered to pieces when that information is found to be incorrect, or worse, completely false.

Whether football clubs like it or not - there is no way to keep their players away from the social media realm. Footballers now have direct access to fans, fellow teammates and oppositions. Social media has allowed the outside world to have a more indepth view into the day in the life of a modern day footballer. Whether that is to their detriment or not. Fans can directly connect with their favourite (or least favourite) players and either praise or condemn them on a daily basis. The positives are that footballers have the chance to show people to see their personalities off the pitch, which is breaking down that supporter - player barrier. However, as many footballers have found out, this opens up the opportunity for fans to attack them directly with hateful or hurtful comments. We have seen agendas start on social media against certain players which has stuck with them throughout their whole career. The power of social media is that strong, it is no surprise to see that more players are hiring their own social media team to take over their profiles.

The dominance of social media is definitely now with the clubs. The power and following the top clubs in the world now have is immense. Clubs can now target each of their fan bases in a way they have never been able to do before. Allowing people from all over the world to stay up to date with their favourite club. Now, there is no need to finely tune your radio or bring up Teletext on your TV to hear the latest scores on the doors. With story features on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, fans have easy access to updates from live matches. Twitter is a reactive space where football clubs really dominate compared to other industries. Fans will now go straight to the app in search of live updates, breaking news stories and even to banter other fans. They have the chance to engage in topical conversations within seconds to give their point of views. Fanbases have grown massively and some have even built a great following from giving fans a voice on a platform where they may be heard. Profiles like AFTV and TrueGeordie have built solid foundations from doing so.

But are these fans actually heard?

Recently, a few Arsenal FC fans put together a social campaign to target their owners as they felt their voices were not being heard and wanted direct contact with the owners of the club. The #WeCareDoYou campaign is a petition that has received over 106,000 signatures from fans in an attempt to get a response from its ‘silent’ owners about how the club is being operated. Their hard work paid off as a press conference was called by the club and the owners discussed the clubs targets and objectives. Following from this, the club invested heavily in the transfer market, which is un-Arsenal like. Did the campaign force the chairman to act on the fans disappointments? We may never know, but it definitely had an impact.

Video content excels

It’s common knowledge that video content is one of the best was the keep fans engaged in your content and stay on your page. From highlights to video series, fans have now have multiple ways in which they can get their daily dose of their favourite club. Content that works extremely well among fans are video series. Liverpool FC have ‘Hip Hop Quiz’ video series, that gains a great following from their fans and even opposition fans. I’d be lying if I said I didn't enjoy seeing Daniel Sturridge and Nathaniel Clyne go head to head to test their musical knowledge. Video series are a great way to get an insight into each players personalities and relationships within the squad - something that was rarely done before social media. The content definitely adds a human element to the clubs and players that is welcomed among its fanbase.

Behind the scenes content is an additional way clubs add more transparency to their image by letting its fans into the life within the professional football world. Whether it’s a player falling out with a manager like Raheem Sterling did with Brendan Rodgers did back in 2012 or to get an insight into the staff that around the club that aren’t in the limelight.

Humour always wins

Looking to rub salt into the wounds of opposition teams? Twitter is the way forward. There is nothing like a team beating its rival, then going onto Twitter to see more conversations and dedicated content from the club’s social media team taking the win to new heights. Burn!

Racial backlash

It’s common knowledge that racism in football has been highlighted in recent years. The downside to social media is the opportunity it gives fans of the game to leave hateful comments on players’ accounts. With high profile players like Troy Deeney and Wilfred Zaha going public about the racial comments they have received. On the flip side, players have been able to use their following to combat racism in football as a whole. The most popular situation being when Raheem Sterling published a post on his Instagram regarding racism in the media. This provoked the topic further in the sporting world, in which governing bodies, clubs and players started to take action against hateful comments and racism as a whole. The PFA launched its ‘Enough’ social campaign, which was used to spread awareness of its stance against racism.

The PFA had this to say on the topic:

“#Enough is a campaign organised by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), which will encourage players not to use any form of social media from 09.00am 19th April to 09.00am on the 20th April.

Over the last few months, both domestically and internationally, there have been a number of high-profile racist incidents directed at players. The boycott acts as a show of unity by the players, and a call for stronger action to be taken by social networks and footballing authorities in response to racist abuse both on and off the pitch.”

How brands can learn from the footballing world on social media

Though many of the topics discussed have been solely football related, many new and existing brands can learn a huge amount from how the football world uses social media. What is great about how social media is used within football is how they interact with its fans to create a legitimate online community. Brands should definitely follow suit by regularly engaging with customers comments and posts, to build their own community. This will be an extremely effective way to retain existing customers and bring in new ones by showing that each customer is important to the brand. If you can engage with customers in a humorous way that is extra brownie points as it is shown that humour is a way to a customers pocket.

Investing in video content is the perfect way to keep customers on your page for longer and improve your brand image. Whether it’s behind the scenes footage, a video series or even content which shows the people behind the brand - video content is a must have in any marketing strategy.

Football (and other sports) have really paved the way with its use on social media. If you are ever struggling with content or campaign ideas, I would recommend stepping into the social media world of football and you may be surprised with what ideas you will be able to put together.

Want to read more about Social Media best practices? Check out The Complete Guide to Social Media Marketing in 2019.

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