2012 was most certainly the year that football clubs got their acts together and began to use Social Media more strategically. In the last 12 months, we’ve seen clubs move from broadcast marketing to fan engagement, we’ve seen football stadiums begin to promote Social Media a lot better – whether it be improved WiFi or signage and finally we’ve seen more and more clubs flock to the likes of Twitter and Facebook.
With the foundations of Football Social Media already set, what does 2013 mean for the 1,551 football clubs currently using Twitter and even more on Facebook?
1. Blogger Outreach
As the power of influence continues to shift towards the blogger-sphere from the traditional press (And note, I’m not saying bloggers have more influencer, just more than they used to!) – clubs must start to take notice of the opportunity that influential fan bloggers hold. Football clubs will begin to develop deeper relationships with bloggers as a way of changing fan perceptions, improving fan engagements and help generate Social Media noise. This will come in the form of blogger match invites, bloggers at press conferences and providing bloggers with behind the scenes content. Fans will always trust their fellow fans over club communications (Which are often perceived to have a commercial agenda).
2. Curated Tweets for media publications
Fan tweets are increasingly becoming the go-to device for measuring fan opinions. Very slowly, we’ve seen fan and player tweets appear in sports TV shows and print media as a way of representing the thoughts of a fanbase on a particular issue or incident. If clubs are savvy enough, they will look to promote their own Social Media and brand by encouraging fans to tweet more often. Clubs can do this by curating the best and most influential tweets from fans and players into their offline and online media. Whether this via projecting tweets throughout stadium concourses as Manchester City have done or including them in website match reports – it’s a great way of involving fans with content production.
3. More use of “Datatainment” in club media
No longer a new concept, the aptly named “Datatainment” ideology is the process of using big data as a way to entertain and engage with fans. A fantastic example of this has been Arsenal’s Stats Zone content on their website before playing opposition.
The London giants use performance data such as pass completion, goals scored, clean sheets, team form etc. as a way to predict the outcome of the match and help entertain fans by giving them some insight before the game. This has to be adopted by more clubs as data – or stats – fits the psyche of a football fan perfectly. Datatainment content is a great way for clubs to build excitement around football matches, help bust myths about player performances and generate substantial levels of Social Media noise with engaging and visual content.
4. Bigger fines, harsher punishments for player Twitter mischief
In 2012 we finally saw footballing bodies like the FA and the Premier League issue Social Media guidelines for football players in the UK. We’ve also learnt that many clubs are internally training and educating players around good and bad practice as players have become more active on Social Media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Still in it’s early stages, we can expect clubs to develop these pieces of governance and regulation further – so expect to see tougher and harsher punishments for football players making mistakes on Twitter in the future. Club Brand and PR can take huge hits in the mainstream press from negative tweets – so ensuring players don’t portray the club in a bad light will be a priority for every Social Media manager at football clubs this year.
5. Monetization of Social Media channels
Last but certainly not least, finding a way to make money from Social Media will be perhaps the most important issues football clubs face in 2013. If 2012, was the year clubs got to grip using Social Media and showing how influential it is, 2013 will be the year clubs will have to prove it’s worth the investment to their board of directors. Expect football clubs to be inventive in ways of trying to monetize their Social Media – this might be through making more content to sell match day tickets, more tie-ins with partner sponsors and better use of Social Media to help aid merchandise sales.
So there you have it – our official predictions for 2013. After getting a decent number of our Football Social Media predictions right for 2012, hopefully we can continue our good track record and continue to bring you the most exclusive and very latest news about how football clubs are using Social Media.