Managing the Social Media Voice of your Football Club

In order for a football club to establish a direct and engaging relationship with its fan base it must develop a strong and consistent voice across its various digital and social media channels.

Having an original and genuine voice can prove to be a challenge as it is not always easy to speak to fans in a conversational tone.  If managed correctly, however, it can uplift the presence of a mediocre club to become an industry leader.

Some important guidelines to remember when establishing your club’s social media voice include:

A.      Determining your football club’s own brand identity

This will be based on the organization´s culture, values, and overall brand experience it would like to promote.

For example, more traditional clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United or Real Madrid will tend to communicate throughout their social media platforms in a more formal manner as they consistently strive to transmit the image of class, excellence and tradition.

On the other hand, less classic and long established clubs such as most Major League Soccer’s franchises will favour a more personable communication approach in an effort to consistently generate buzz and engagement in less mature football markets.

 

B.      Knowing your football club’s audience

Knowing the desired demographic that your brand wants to reach will help your club understand its target audience and the relevant social media channels to use to reach out to followers and potential consumers.

Although it is important to remain consistent throughout your social and digital media presence, it is also imperative to adapt your approach to the relevant audience you are targeting through each platform.

For example, the style of writing in a football club’s official website should be different than the voice and tone used across other social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.  Each platform has a different set of followers and must be targeted accordingly.

 

C.      Engaging and interacting with your community 

Whether the objective is to inform, sell, or provide customer support, it is essential to know how to communicate your football club’s objectives with personality and sincerity.

Listening to the needs, thoughts, opinions and insights of your audience will help your brand achieve the corporate objectives and remain authentic via social and digital media platforms.

Because of their massive size and social relevance most top-flight clubs will tend not to answer directly to followers on social media mainly due to a question of volume and risk management.

Nevertheless, when communicating with your online community of fans and supporters worldwide it is essential to remember that in order to generate true engagement social media platforms should be used like a telephone and not like a megaphone.

photo-6The Sports Business Institute Barcelona offers a two-month program entitled ¨Football Communication & Social Media Online Program¨ that provides practical training to those wanting to start or advance their career in the areas of communication, PR, sports journalism, online branding and social media management for the football industry. 

For more information visit: http://bit.ly/111jVD9

To read the full course prospectus click here: http://bit.ly/1sGqhiy

The changing face of community ownership in Scottish Football

At the weekend prominent Ayrshire Businesswoman and Kilmarnock fan Marie Macklin gifted more than 45,500 of her shares in the club to the Killie Trust supporters group.

That the BBC reported on this fact and that most of the newspapers featured the story, says so much about the changing face of Community Ownership in Scottish Football clubs. I am sure that if this had happened just three of four years ago then it would have struggled to get a mention even in the local papers.

Macklin, whose property company has previously expressed interest in owning the Scottish Premiership club, has kept hold of 1,000 shares but most importantly she hopes that, by giving her shares to the Killie Trust, it will enhance the cause of community ownership.

Of course as an advocate of Community Ownership I congratulate Marie Macklin on her magnanimous gesture, which I know will be appreciated by the Killie Trust. At Motherwell, the owner John Boyle has taken the level of generosity to new heights, through donating his shares to the Well Society, which will on reaching a financial target (to give them sustainability) see his shares gifted to the fans. His view being , who is better placed to keep the club at the heart of the community, than the very community that it serves. Now if we only had a few more owners like that?

In both Sweden and Germany we have seen the benefits of community ownership where through the football associations the 50 plus 1 rule means that businesses must work with the local community and cannot own the community asset that represents the town or city. It is too much to expect such radical steps to happen here in Scotland; but as the new ownership structures do emerge, so too will we get ordinary supporters going to Hampden Park to represent their clubs.

In Scotland, thanks to the efforts of many fans and likeminded business people we are reaching a tipping point where Community Ownership is ready to be embraced throughout the Divisions. Initially we only had traction with the likes of Clyde, Stirling Albion, East Stirling, in the lower leagues and with clubs such as Clachnacuddin, Gretna 2008 and Clydebank in the non league circles.

Now however, we have high profile cases at Heart of Midlothian and Dunfermline Athletic showing that businesses and supporters can work together to build a sustainable future for our clubs. What has become apparent is that that football is not a conventional investment and apart from a few interesting exceptions people can’t make money out of football in Scotland. So on the one hand there are no white knights willing to take on the burdens of club ownership and yet despite that dynamic we have seen a considerable amount of business people combine with supporters at the time of need to ensure these community assets (clubs) flourish.

Of course a business person can still get something out of it, through proper engagement with this audience which is so much easier to do when you are working together rather than sitting isolated in the Boardroom. As we have seen with Dunfermline Athletic and Hearts the supporters are happy to work with the business acumen of the investors and indeed if they help by providing funding to buy the club or the stadiums then supporters are comfortable with these business fans getting rewarded with a reasonable return on their investment. It has been surprising to many that business in Scotland has adapted to the concept of democracy in football and that as part of these process supporters are suddenly allowed a say in running their club. At the crux of that debate is who actually owns the club? Having the shares might mean something emotionally to the individual or give him some small comfort of having a financial investment; but the reality is that share certificates mean very little as the heart and soul of the club is embedded in the vibrancy of the collective energy of its supporters, not in paper certificates.

As we enter this new landscape it is perhaps no surprise that the Politicians have seen the changing dynamic and discussions have already started to see how we protect our community football clubs: through either the right to buy or the protection of club assets such as the Grounds. I welcome these discussions; but would ask that all the political parties start to think about how these communities owned clubs can be protected and indeed incentivised financially and maybe then we will be in a position to help stop the boom and bust cycle that has seen 154 administrations across football in the UK since 2000.

Paul Goodwin is Head of Supporters Direct in Scotland and author of Saving Scottish Football.

To find out more about Supporters Direct Scotland, visit: http://www.supporters-direct.org/homepage/what-we-do/scotland

Welcome to the Veg-ch Field!

Bloomin' great idea. Swansea Councillors allow Vetch to be turned into allotments

It’s straight out of a scene from the Good Life. Part of Swansea City’s legendary old ground, the Vetch Field, is set to be turned into an allotment to encourage urban gardening.

Unable to find a buyer for the former stadium during the economic crisis, Green Party councillors have persuaded Swansea Council (the current land owners) to open up a section of the pitch to allow residents to plant runner beans, carrots and cabbages there until a developer can be found.

A council spokesman said: “We have agreed that food growing areas can be set up in the short-term at the Vetch but this is a temporary measure pending redevelopment of the site.

“The temporary project will give people the chance to enjoy exercise and nature whilst growing their own food and will also allow education on environmental issues such as recycling and sustainable drainage.

“It will be a demonstration project that will raise awareness of the potential for community food growing across the city.

Whilst the city aims to cash in on the financial fortunes of the promotion of the Swans, the economic downturn has been blamed for lack of interest from developers in the old ground.

There were plans for 120 homes, a play area and a community centre but they have not progressed.

Swansea currently has about 320 allotment plots on 15 sites across the city but there are over 300 people on a waiting list.

Do you think this is a bloomin’ great idea? Should other old grounds be gicen up in the same manner?