In their inaugural 2009 season, the Seattle Sounders FC sold out of season tickets, clearing the 22,000 allocated in record time. They were the first MLS team to have a supporter’s band and have set up a supporter’s alliance that allows for fans to make crucial decisions about the team structure.
Fans are clearly a huge part of what make the team and this reflects in their digital stats, they have the second most amount of followers and likes after LA Galaxy. Digital-Football.com had a chat with Digital Marketing Manager Shane Evans to discuss how they’ve built such a large following, despite being one of the youngest teams in the MLS.
Q. How would you describe your average 9-5? Are there any routines?
A. There is rarely a routine in this job. There are patterns depending on what point in the season we are in or if we are playing home or away, that kind of thing. Things are thrown at me from all different angles and departments and I react accordingly based on need or urgency and go from there.
Q. The football experience often involves huge amounts of tradition and unity, as a relatively young club, how do you use digital to try and instill tradition alongside fan involvement?
A. Well one thing that football fans most certainly are is passionate, so it doesn’t take much of a push in the right direction for little things to become certified team traditions. As far as the digital side of that goes, we just keep things fresh in the minds of our supporters and make the things they hold most dear apparent in everything we do.
We also make a point to let things grow organically. We don’t overdo certain phrases or hashtags and let our supporters decide what they like best and go from there.
Q. How do you engage with fans who may also be engaged with a NBA, NFL, NHL & MLB team. Is there an Inter sport rivalry or do you just focus on the MLS fans.
A. The Sounders and the Seattle Seahawks are actually under the same umbrella (and office/stadium for that matter) so there is a huge overlap in our staff/projects/goals that kind of thing. We encourage a healthy relationship with the Seahawks and our supporters react tremendously well when we mention them in posts and that type of thing.
Typically, you’ll see supporters stay loyal to an entire city rather than just one sport. If you’re a Sounders fan, you’ll most likely enjoy the Seahawks and catch a few Mariners games a year and we encourage that behavior as its reciprocal. When the Sounders are successful, the Seahawks highlight that and vice versa.
A. At the Sounders we’re extremely lucky to have one of the biggest fan bases in all of MLS so we use our digital arms to maintain it and grow steadily. To contradict my last answer, we do compete with the Seahawks/Marines at times for media attention and the like so it’s important to stand out, even within our own market. As such, ensuring our content is unique and eye-catching, while not being too over the top, we help to grow our following.
We want to reflect the passion of our supporters in what we do and have them engage accordingly.
Q. When are your busiest periods?
A. Typically after matches we see the biggest engagement of our supporters as everyone wants to know more about the action and the take of our players/coaches/analysts is scrutinized, whether good or bad.
Q. What do you do on match day for digital engagement?
A. We do a lot on match days to get our supporters involved. Aside from the typical live tweeting of match action, we post numerous photos in an effort to capture the atmosphere of a Sounders match, as well as video, polls, pre-match articles and basically anything that we believe our supporters will enjoy…all of which on a strict schedule that doesn’t seem like we are force-feeding content.
We want our supporters to connect just as much with the content as they do with the match itself.
The Sounders currently sit with just over 62,000 Twitter followers and despite being the 97th largest club on Twitter worldwide, have the 3rd largest following in the MLS – with LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls leading ahead. On Facebook, the Seattle side have a very commendable 290,738 Likes and an even more impressive 63,000 check-ins at their stadium, something many European teams are still lagging behind on.
We want to say thanks to Shane for taking the time out to give us a behind the scenes look at how the Sounders are engaging on Social Media and wish them all the best in the future.