I knew coming here the love of soccer (or should I say football now that I've officially crossed the pond) is unmeasurable. I wasn't prepared for all the billboards, commercials, local fans sporting their team's apparel, and all the other forms of advertising I've seen by just walking the streets.
Immediately, that is the biggest difference between the United Kingdom and the United States. In the U.S. there are still fans wearing the apparel and in certain areas I've seen advertisements, but in the U.K. it's around every corner and in every newspaper. Avoiding it would be near impossible. The purpose of social media is to get people talking and generate buzz. This seems like a relatively simple task since people would still be talking about the sport even if there were no social media, or at least I get the feeling they would. They have an advantage though, football is their main sport; whereas, in the states soccer competes for America's attention with baseball, American football, basketball and hockey, just to name a few. The only competition football in the U.K. has, as far as I've seen, is rugby, which is very interesting to see since that's a sport you don't see advertised in the states too much.
Besides this difference though, as far as Twitter and Facebook, my research has shown that the clubs in the U.K. use social media relatively in the same way as clubs in the U.S. They cross promote other teams by linking to their pages; they give their fans updates on the players and the team; they provide their fans live coverage of the matches; and they even try to direct traffic back to their websites and blogs.
Hopes, wishes and dreams come true
My next step is to go around knocking on some football clubs' doors and hope they are willing to answer a few questions of mine about how beneficial social media is to them, if it is beneficial, and how they measure these benefits. I've learned a lot just from paying attention to the social media outlets, but now it's time to get information directly from the clubs. On top of talking directly to the clubs, I'm very excited to talk to We Are Social about their contract with Adidas and how football clubs' social media efforts impact their social media efforts.
I have talked to one individual so far though. Kate Fairclough, who works for Hill and Knowlton in their public relations department talked to me about Norwich City FC and their sponsor Aviva used social media to raise money for their charity Railway Children. It was really interesting to hear how football clubs go to outside sources to help them raise awareness about important causes. Stay tuned to find out more about our conversation and more conversations to come! I'm learning so much and loving every minute of it. It's amazing to hear how many companies work with football clubs' social media or are impacted by them.
Alex Caulfield, Megan Kingston and Patrick Guldan could be considered Columbus Crew experts when it comes to social media and advertising. Caulfield is the Senior Director of Communications; Kingston is the Manager of Advertising and Promotions; and Guldan is the Managing Editor of the Massive Report. In this day and age, you don't get titles like those by being in the dark on social media, especially when there are ten, if not more, twitter accounts dedicated only to the Crew. That's not even including the players and the list of fans who put their love of the Crew in their bios! Twitter is becoming the new hub of sports information, soccer especially. Out of the top ten most followed teams, six are soccer teams. Even eight of the ten most followed athletes are soccer players according econsultancy.com. It's not just Twitter, though. Facebook even has a substancial influence with eight of the ten most liked teams being soccer clubs and five of the ten most liked players being soccer stars. Shocking? I think so. But, it just goes to show that soccer is on the social media radar. Unfortunately, none of those soccer teams or players were American and quite a few were British. So what are they doing that we aren't?
Simple, soccer is their bread and butter. It's to them what football is to us.
Despite that though, Major League Soccer (MLS) has been doing an abundance of social media tricks to boost sales and bring soccer in the states out of its fallen ashes. From their #FirstKick contest to creating their own MLS Match Day App, MLS is doing everything they can with social media to bring attention back to the sport. They even partnered with FourSquare so people could check in for games at the local pubs or stadiums and earn rewards for watching the games. Personally, I had no idea MLS was doing all this, and not to say I hold any power or influence, but if I knew nothing about it, was it marketed well enough?
I hope Mr. Caulfield, Ms. Kingston and Mr. Guldan can possibly shed some light on this. They may be small fish in the MLS pond, but I'm curious if individual clubs got in on the #FirstKick action or how the Match Day App helps them, if it does at all. Originally, I had just hoped to ask them about how they personally use social media when it comes to advertising for Columbus Crew, but, now, I wonder how they are affected by the social media efforts of MLS.