FC Bayern Munich launches its own Facebook with myFCB
What do Lady Gaga and the FC Bayern Munich have in common? Besides being big hits on Facebook (Lady Gaga with 49.5m fans, Bayern Munich with 3.3m fans), both now have their own community. In February the US Pop star launched ‘Little Monsters‘ a social site that is now invite only, looks a lot like Pinterest and seems to play on engines like sharing visuals and rating content among her fans.
European football clubs like Liverpool FC and AS Roma have also started pushing visual content by utilising the rapidly growing network – Pinterest. Furthermore, LFC recently launched a tumblr blog in order to offer visual treasures from the club’s past and cash in on this.
On Monday FC Bayern Munich started a closed beta of myFCB.de, the club’s own community that is supposed to become the “Facebook for all Bayern Munich fans”. But is this the right way to play the ball?
The Bavarian champion boast 3.3m Facebook fans and are by far the biggest audience of the Bundesliga clubs on Facebook, followed by current champion Borussia Dortmund with 1m fans and FC Schalke 04 with 480,000 supporters. However, Bayern Munich are the only Bundesliga club with no official Twitter Account (list of other club accounts here). Besides having had a PR crisis with their fake new player PR stunt gone wrong on Facebook, the fanpage grows by approximately 10,000 Fans per day. According to a Sports+Markt research the club had 20.7m fans in 2010 (10m in Germany, 10.7m from other countries).
The new community will share many Facebook-esque features: fans can share, comment and rate content. Additionally, the network has its own version of “Like” buttons with the “Guad” button (Bavarian for good) and the “Net Guad” button (no good) for content rating. Fans are provided with tools to organize their fan clubs, schedules and daily fan events. Currently the old forum from the club’s homepage is being migrated across to integrate with the new community. The beta version of myfcb is scheduled to end late March and according to my first tests many features still need to be rolled out entirely and improved (no photo uploads via smartphone, no functioning facebook connect api, no english version etc).
Lorenz Beringer (Project Manager Social Media with FCB) said that FC Bayern Munich aim to engage 300,000 fans with myfcb within the first year. Furthermore by creating their own fan community the club is looking into exploiting opportunities of data collection and analysis as well as referring opportunities for partners. It’s no surprise that this move by Bayern has ROI opportunities as part of its strategy – especially as clubs are eager to generate alternate revenues from Social Media.
But first of all the community has to reach the fans and provide real values – especially beyond the club’s Facebook offering. Facebook will always be way ahead in terms of functionalities, features and social community. Building up an bespoke plattform leads to enormous costs regarding personal and financial resources, knowledge, responsibilities etc. The club has to control and manage the complete community now (possible copy rights infringements, insults, rumors etc.). Furthermore, there are questions regarding transparency and there’s the possibility fans may view content with a lack of credibility: it’s hard to host a balanced dialogue on ones’ branded environment – something Manchester City’s Richard Ayers stated in a recent interview (Richard favours a tactics of natural growth and working together with relevant forums, blogs, communities etc.).
In the end it will come down to the experiences and content (besides offers generated from their partner’s interests). If myFCB only copies the club’s experience and content activities from their Facebook Fanpage, it will be pretty much of “a costly but useless little monster”. A lot of creativity and a delighted content strategy (also the definition of the precise roles of Facebook and myfcb) is needed to lure the fans into this new home and reach the tipping point.