Take a glance at the trending topics on any Saturday between August and May and you’ll know that social media plays a significant role in football. Premier League clubs have learned to take advantage of this, and with Euro 2016 starting to wind down, domestic teams are already looking towards next season's preparations and the summer transfer market. Last year’s summer spending reached an all-time high of £1 billion, so clubs need to be looking for fresh ways to drive awareness and generate revenue if they are to compete at the highest levels. One answer for this is to dive into social media.
Why Social Media?
In 2014, Facebook executive Glenn Miller told the International Football Arena (IFA) conference that “of the 1.3 billion-plus people on Facebook, 500 million are hardcore football fans.” It’s little wonder that clubs are finding new ways to utilise social channels as part of their business plans.
At first, clubs were slow to take social media and grasp the role it could play for them. However, these channels have proved crucial to the success of some clubs in financial terms as they reach areas traditional advertising such as TV and radio cannot. Whilst the final purchases will come through websites and stores, clubs should not underestimate how influential social media can be on consumer purchases if promoted effectively.
Those with a large following on social media will find this an easier task than others. In 2013, Manchester United used Market Research Company Kantar to discover that the club had over 659 million supporters worldwide. The main problem they faced was how to reach them all. Social media has now bridged this gap and through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, as well as several other platforms, clubs can extend their outreach. The next stage is to turn the fans' love into money. This is the new quest of the football market.
Which Methods Can They Take?
Out of match days, Twitter plays a vital role between club and fans. Followers want to stay engaged, meaning regular updates before, during, and after the games from the accounts are necessary. Whilst the majority of the content will surround the players and day to day running of the club, they should also look to use Twitter as a sales platform, showing the range of kits, tickets, promotions and other merchandise. This should lead the fans towards the website and into a purchase journey.
Elsewhere, clubs will work closely alongside their sponsors and partners to create what they believe will attract their fans the most. They tend to look deep into the heritage of a club and want this to reflect in their advertising. An example of this is shown in the below video from Leicester City on the release of their 2016/2017 kit using their #foreverfearless campaign to highlight what the team is built upon.
Adidas takes a similar approach in its advertisement, and regularly creates promotional videos using the products and stars at its disposal, all seen through its #firstneverfollows & #bethedifference campaigns. Its content is a common sight for TV, and with second screening becoming extremely popular with modern day advertising, these campaigns form a crucial link between TV and social.
So what can football clubs do with social media? It’s not just about developing a big following and feeding them with regular updates; it’s about weaving social media seamlessly into the purchase journey. That means finding inventive ways to promote merchandise, tickets and other sellable items; without it breaking the conversational tone of voice in favour of pure promotion. By doing this, football clubs can find that social media becomes a critical part of their sales funnel, even - and maybe especially- when the action on the pitch closes for the season.
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