Football Clubs and Instagram

With Facebook’s recent purchase of picture-sharing social network Instagram and the site’s rapid growth (50 million users already and counting), it’s time for more football clubs to consider including Instagram in their social media strategy. It’s easy to use – simply take a photo on a mobile device, add a filter to it, add a tag and post. With the app available on both iOS and Android devices, the network should continue to grow.

Users have come to Instagram in droves because of the visual experience. The whole experience of a football match and everything that surrounds it is filled with visual stimulants. Clubs can take advantage of Instagram by using these photos to tell a story about their brand and connecting fans to the brand through photography.

Ways Teams Can Use Instagram

Engage fans with imagery

Photos can tell a story quicker and oftentimes, better, than words. Football is filled with powerful images – goal celebrations, the joy of fans, the vibrant colors in the stadium on matchday. Photos can evoke strong emotions in fans. A team with a rich history could go with a strategy of posting classic photos and memorable moments in team history. Perhaps after each match, a team could post a great photo or two from the game to connect with fans.  Here’s some ways other sports brands are engaging fans through imagery:

Promotional vehicle (Philadelphia Eagles)

Provide a visual connection to a final score (New York Knicks)


Share what it’s like behind the scenes

One of the big draws for fans to follow any social network is the chance to see what it’s like “behind the curtain.” Fans love to see what goes on behind the scenes. The opportunity to catch a glimpse of that “secret” world can create a strong connection between a fan and a brand. Photos of the dressing room before a big match or the manager’s office can get fans excited. Images such as these can help build excitement and buzz leading up to a match.

Before/After Shot of Arena with 9,000 t-shirts ready for fans for big game (Univ. of South Florida Athletics)

Team dancers practicing in-game routine (Boston Celtics)

Showcase the personality of the brand

Images posted through Instagram can tell a visual story about the brand. Visual imagery is a powerful way of  communicating the values and beliefs of a club. What does it mean to be a fan of a particular club? Each and every professional club has a tradition and “personality” that is reflected in the style of play, the fans, the stadium and the club history.  A team can use Instagram to tell that story and build a stronger bond with old and new fans.

Red Bull posts a daily “awesome” photo that reflects the nature of the brand

Engage fans through sharing user-generated content

Instagram is an excellent resource for crowdsourcing for user-generated content. Levi’s Jeans is using Instagram to find the star for their next ad campaign. All fans have to do is upload a photo of themselves and tag it with #iamlevis. Starbucks provides an outlet for fans of its brand by re-posting creative shots tagged with #starbucks.

At my job here at the University of South Florida Athletics Department, we recently had an in-venue “Instagram Photo Contest” during one of our spring scrimmages. Fans could enter the contest by tagging their photo with #USFSpringGame and one of the following categories: #Fans, #Action, #BestShot. The following week, we posted the top five photos on our website and allowed fans to vote on the winners. The winning photos will be printed and signed by our head coach.

Instagram can be a very useful tool in a club’s social media assets and provide another way to connect fans to the brand. A few Premier League clubs (Arsenal &  Manchester City) have made some forays into the world of Instagram, but I haven’t seen as a serious a commitment as some of the brands listed above.


Andrew Morris

Director of Marketing & New Media at the University of South Florida Athletics Department. Passionate about football and social and digital media. You can follow me on Twitter at @andymorr

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2 Responses

  1. Couldn’t agree more. It’s hard to believe that more teams, and for that matter, more of their digital strategists, aren’t more active on Instagram. We do a weekly post over that features the best social media moments from the weekend, all from Football, of course, and they always include a picture. This week both Lucas Leiva and Eljero Elia posted from Instagram Leiva’s pic of Wembley was stunning. If Liverpool and their players posted nothing but those kind of pics, they’d win some new followers! Well done with the S. FL.’s Instagram feed & promotions.

  1. July 29, 2013

    […] Football Clubs and Instagram […]

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