Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech hosts Google+ Hangout

Following on from the success of Manchester City’s Google+ Hangout with Patrick Viera two weeks ago, Chelsea FC are the latest club to use the ailing social network as a way to engage with their supporters. Chelsea’s star goalkeeper, Petr Cech, hosted a live Google+ Hangout to engage with over 500 fans and talk about fitness, player language barriers, training, the Champions League final and how his head injury affected him.

The session was due to start at 1pm but it took longer than anticipated to get Cech from the training ground to Chelsea’s media centre. This caused some confusion and deflated the start of the campaign which started some 35 minutes late, but is to be expected considering the club had never done something like this before. Cech answered a number of questions from 5 fans around the world (e.g. Ghana, United States, England, Sweden & Austria) that had been selected in advance.

It’s fair to say that football clubs have struggled to find a use for Google’s own social network (as have many other brands!), but this is a great development by Chelsea and Manchester City – showing they are not scared to at least be the first to try something new. Chelsea currently are the 5th largest club on Twitter worldwide with 1.4 million followers and also have a hefty 12.3 million on Facebook. Chelsea’s own Google+ presence is quite impressive with over 2 million +1s.

Andrew from the US asked Cech about squad fitness

Google+ Hangouts are a feature of the social network that allow users to hold video conferencing conversations over Google+ running simultaneously with a “chat room” message thread. Manchester City and Chelsea have both used Hangouts as a way of allowing fans to ask players questions. The success of player Q&A hashtags on Twitter (pioneered by Manchester City) quickly spread as many other clubs replicated the tactic. Using Hangouts is perhaps an evolution of this and we may see other clubs attempting to use Hangouts as a way to boost their Google+ Pages (which will most likely help clubs search engine ranking).

Such initiatives are positive for football fans as it shows that clubs are willing to allow their players to open up and engage with their fans in a very personal and direct manner. Player Q&As are incredibly important for ensuring that the club appears authentic, engaged and transparent in it’s dealings. All of which inevitably have an effect on match day sales, season tickets and general club sentiment across the web.

The only criticism we have of the campaign was picking a player who perhaps doesn’t have a very active social media presence – with the goalkeeper absent from Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps Chelsea might’ve attracted more viewers if they had utilised one of the clubs more active social media users. That being said, Cech answered all the questions eloquently and did a could job in coming across as a genuinely friendly and down to earth player. During it’s peak, the Hangout had around 700 viewers according to Google stats, which is slightly disappointing considering the size of Chelsea’s social media audience but we are yet to confirm these stats.

Sean Walsh

Founder of Digital-Football.com and leading Football Social Media expert.

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