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Football & Social United: What Can Marketers Learn From The Beautiful Game?

Blog post   •   Aug 08, 2015 11:40 BST

You only need to look at the trending topics on any weekend from August to May to know that football is a pretty big deal on social media, and it's only going to get bigger. But sometimes, social media can be a team's fiercest rival.

With the start of the new season just a matter of hours away (hurrah!), we thought we'd share a few of our favourite moments where our two passions - football and online comms - were united, and the lessons that can be learnt from those...

BBC: Know Your Strategy

Last May, Match of the Day invited football fans to vote for their goal of the 14/15 season via Twitter which  Jack Wilshere won, despite not being an option. Typically jammy of Arsenal...some might say. We jest.

Much to the embarrassment of the BBC and the show's host, Gary Lineker, Arsenal fans hijacked the hashtag to take a staggering 34% of the votes for Wilshere's mediocre goal. 

The lesson here: be clear about your competition rules and your objectives...and don't let "Gooners" enter (kidding...or am I?!).

Gary Lineker: Leverage Your Fans 

Just last Thursday, Gary Lineker rather cheekily plugged the upcoming Premier League season to his Twitter masses by commenting on how it was good of the Aussies to get bowled out so quickly (so the game can finish early in time for the start of this weekend's football).

Considering his followers' interests, aligning with current affairs and promoting MOTD. We like your strategy, Gary, we like it a lot.

BT Sport: Call In The Brand Advocates

We've spoken before about the power of brand advocates, and BT's line-up of famous footballing faces was a strong factor in the launch of their sports package.

Up against the likes of Sky Sports and terrestrial channels with match rights, BT faced a toughed battle for viewers. But just last month, BT stepped their game up, unveiling a new set of legendary faces including Glenn Hoddle, Stephen Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand. And subscriptions have soared.

John Petter, chief executive of BT Consumer, said: "This is a new chapter for European football on TV. BT Sport will show hundreds of live matches throughout the tournament using the very latest technology..."

Blackpool FC: Never Silence Your Fans

The Blackpool FC owners, Karl Oyston and family, recently felt the wrath of a (perhaps understandably) disgruntled fan in a public Facebook post. How did they respond - by saying nothing at all, offering an olive branch or explaining their objectives? Nope, none of those. Mr Oyston sued the fan.

This comes following a series of pitch invasions, demonstrations and abandoned matches as the Tangerines have tried to express their anger at the way their club is being run. 

So what can we learn from Mr Oyston? Well, when it comes to social media, it's always advisable to publicly acknowledge your fans' views and concerns, take it offline and try to resolve the issues at hand. Fans and consumers alike can be your biggest brand influencers - and essentially they're free - but a lot can be learnt from them. Listen to them.

So, here's to another season of on and off pitch dramas and come on you Spurs, Pompey, Palace and Borussia Dortmund!