Football Social Media predictions 2012 [UPDATE]

This time last year we posted a list of Football Social Media predictions that we believed (and hoped) would come true in 2012. There’s been no doubt that the growth of Football Social Media in 2012 has been substantial and looks to continue into 2013.

Furthermore, it’s clear that clubs have come a long way in recent months to improve fan engagement by using their Social Media channels to better use. However, how do they fare in comparison to some of our expectations?


“Fans always have something to say and increasingly they are doing so simultaneously during sporting events.”

Social TV was dubbed the hottest thing to happen in 2012 having been constantly talked about throughout 2011. We initially predicted that sports broadcasters might start to use Tweets and incorporate them into their programming. However, this has yet to shown itself and although some programmes like Match of the Day are now on Twitter – and talking about Tweets on their programme – none are fully integrating a live Twitter stream onto their TV.


“I predict clubs will either produce their own, or get social consultants in to do the job for them.”

Footballers causing controversy on Twitter was a popular talking point in 2011 and very much continued into 2012, so it’s no surprise that we predicted clubs would get more active in helping players better understand Social Media. As such, we were right on this one and have seen the likes of the FA and the Premier League issuing official guidelines to players. We’ve also heard many reports of clubs holding training sessions specifically for Social Media.


“I think the major football clubs in particular will begin to see commercial success from their channels and smaller clubs will take notice and tentatively start building Facebook and Twitter communities.”

This was always likely to happen so it’s no surprise we got this one right. Major clubs continue to dominate the Social Media landscape but their success has been seen by smaller teams who have taken to Twitter and Facebook. Smaller clubs have done less grander campaigns with smaller budgets, however it’s great to see teams using Social Media as a way to engage with fans and try generate better attendances.


“I think as clubs and stadiums realise that social AND mobile is increasingly becoming a huge matchday experience for their customers, they will start to look at developing better 3G signals, better Wi-Fi access and maybe, just hopefully, social media based centres for fans.”

Even though clubs didn’t particularly take to Foursquare as we predicted, we’ve certainly seen signs of clubs trying to make their stadiums more connected to Social Media. The ‘Connected Stadium’ has already come to major sides like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City – with many other top tier sides planning some form of connectivity improvements in the next 12 months.


“Clubs will start to get fans involved in the design and judging of club merchandise – particularly the kit design.”

Having seen Marseille generate so much engagement and commercial success for their Facebook designed away shirt, I was certain more clubs would be more creative with their merchandise. Unfortunately, many clubs are still unable and unreceptive to letting their fans have input around shirt designs using Social Media.


“The m-Ticket, or the mobile ticket, will become more popular and prevalent in club marketing strategies.”

With customers becoming more digitally savvy and paper slowly being phased out for items like tickets – it’s no surprise to see technology like M-Tickets appear more and more in the entertainment industry. In 2012 we saw a multitude of clubs use M-Tickets to try make it much easier to get fans to matches. However, despite the growth of smartphones – we’ve seen very little development on a large scale for club apps.


“It cannot be too long before managers start to use Twitter in order to get their thoughts across to the fans without having to deal with press.”

We had hoped that Football Social Media’s growth would also see more managers take to Facebook and Twitter as a way of engaging with their fans. However, this has perhaps gone the opposite direction with many managers slamming the channels and refusing to see the potential benefits. Just major manager uses social in the United Kingdom – Celtic’s Neil Lennon has both Twitter and Facebook on a regular basis.

So with 4 out of 7 right, most of these predictions have come true. Yet, there’s still room for improvement and clubs can always be doing a lot more to engage with their fans. Coming later this week we will put forward our 2013 predictions – so keep an eye out.

Sean Walsh

Founder of and leading Football Social Media expert.

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