Should Football Chairmen use Twitter to engage with fans?
It’s a bit like knowing your Dad is on Facebook really, you don’t think they should be there and they look a bit out of place, but they’re there. Anyway, it’s a fact of life, there are some Chairmen on Twitter (albeit few), and are getting some good results from it.
Real chairman tweet
Last year, QPR Chairman Tony Fernandes’ use of the network to ask suggestions for new signings for the squad was certainly innovative and proved if used well, Social Media is a valid and capable utility for engaging fans with the club. It’s particularly important as questions arise over some clubs lack of interactivity with fans via these networks.
Admittedly, questions like that will place strain on the chairman’s relationship with the manager who may feel undermined (and in fact, former manager Neil Warnock later claimed he felt that Twitter had poisoned Fernandes against him), however, if managed well and used by asking sensible productive questions, there are opportunities to benefit from the likes of Twitter and help create a two-way relationship between club and fan. In the past, much research has shown that clubs are content to ignore fans via social media, however, Fernandes has shown there is an opportunity to narrow the gap between the two.
However, as like any stakeholder in the game, Social Media can bring more trouble than its worth.
West Ham United Chairmen David Gold recently lashed out at Alan Hansen who he claims said ‘real chairmen shouldn’t have a football opinion’ and that ‘a good chair is a chair that doesn’t sign autographs or interact with fans’ via his Twitter account.
Chairmen on Twitter
It is important for chair persons to be seen engaging with fans and asking for feedback and social media presents them with that opportunity. In the larger picture of the club, players uses of Twitter can be good but is really too restrictive to have any real benefit for the club, whilst Chairman have the power to seek productive feedback via social media channels.Whilst I don’t agree with everything David Gold has said in the past, I have to agree that his use of Twitter is productive and engaging. He reads tweets, retweets and replies to fans questions and is the type of chairmen fans want to interact with.