Football & Social Media: Why Clubs Need To Change To Stay Relevant- Oscar Ugaz

By iSportconnect | March 22, 2012

Some months ago, a well known sports brand reached 5million fans on Facebook, so they posted on their wall to celebrate the happy event: “Today is a magical date that we will never forget. Today we are going to reach 5 million fans in our football page. We only can say something to you: 5 MILLION OF THANKS”
They only received nine comments, eight of which were the usual mumblings, but one of them was happy to say what he thought: “Today is also my birthday and that is more magical. The 5 million fans don’t say anything to me. You guys are getting a little boring”.
Last October, ‘Facebook Pages’ start displaying the new “Talking About This” metric, which measures the number of unique people who have created a story (comment, like, share) about a specific page during the last week. From this data derives another interesting one: the engagement ratio (ER) – a percentage that measures how many fans really interact with the page.
Over the last three weeks, the average ER for the major European football clubs on Facebook (Real Madrid, FC, Barcelona and Manchester United) was 3.5% of an average fan base of more than 20 million each.
I remember many meetings concerning the number of fans and some people said: “But, ‘Club A’ have more fans than us. We must do something”.
A second point of view was: “What is important is not the size, but what we do with those fans.” The latter way of thinking is the one that produces great content and entertainment.
Unfortunately, the alpha male attitude seems too imposed in the market and everyone falls in the rat race to collect more fans to boast about. Everyday a new ranking appears and everyday people run to look at it. They’ll either be happy or frustrated.
But, time has given reason to the second point of view. If football is one of the most passionate sports and if we are talking about some of the most representative brands in the sector, a 3.5% ER is something not to be proud of. The fact is that most of us are managing these new social media assets the same way we did with old media.
We have a lot of fans and reach? Great! Let´s push messages like crazy and let´s boast about our supposed reach. Elements like ER (Edge Rank) and the structure of the new Facebook Wall has put us back into place. It doesn’t matter how many fans we have, we are not going to reach any of them if we are not relevant.
The point is that we are missing the opportunity to use the new technical possibilities of engagement, as well as the data and insights behind it. Now, we know who the fans are, their sex, age, language, country and city. We even know what kind of messages they responded to in the past and what do they do after that.  We can use all this data to profile remarkable content in the way of customized messages, engaging apps, demanding polls, video that shows the bowels of the club and so on.
However, most of us limit to the average post with a link.
Sponsors and licensors must be more deeply involved. Closing deals or enhancing old ones based on a number of followers is not going to be relevant at all. A due diligence of the sponsee´s social media assets must include a deep look at the insights of the fan base, to what kind of stimulus they react to and a deep thinking about how products or services can engage with the rightholder´s brand in a meaningful way.
Nowadays most deals are based on number of posts, tweets or video displays without any deep analysis. A vicious circle occurs where poor results arrive because of irrelevant content and more messages are pushed to obtain results. This creates a negative attitude, or worst than that, the audience will start to ignore us (remember the low engagement rates?). In the process we also run the risk of killing our social media assets.
The responsibility is not small because we can diminish the value of our own media. If brands like football clubs, that are supposed to create some of the most deep and engaging relationships, do not produce real value, this can give support to those that suggest that social media is a fad and a waste of time. You may hear the familiar sound of a bubble being burst with all the negative effects towards digital media.
Strategic movements like new public ER, as well as insights data, new monetization and advertising solutions are efforts for platforms like Facebook and Twitter to provide brands with tools to create more relevant content and increase not only their own value, but the whole platform itself. Being a part of an industry like sports, with such a big passion component requires managing the digital strategy of ‘love brands’ and taking full accountability towards more professional, technical and meaningful content.
If we work this way, maybe the next time we post something we will receive the feedback we expect, instead of the usual blathering or, in the worst case scenario, the echo of an empty space.
About Oscar Ugaz:
Oscar Ugaz is the Regional Project Director at Phantasia Wunderman.
Prior to joining Phantasia Wunderman, Oscar enjoyed a successful spell as Digital Business Manager for Real Madrid C.F, where he managed the club’s e-commerce, social media strategy, online video business and the commercial strategy of realmadrid.com portals.
With a career in digital marketing spanning over 15years, including projects with major brands such as Movistar, SABMiller and Toyota, Oscar often travels the globe as a keynote speaker, often participating at events and conferences on Digital Business Strategy.
He has an MBA from Universidad del Pacifico (Lima, Perú) and has been Consultant and Teacher Assistant of the Wharton Business School GCP Project. He currently lives in Madrid.
Oscar Ugaz twitter: @oscarugaz

Some months ago, a well known sports brand reached 5million fans on Facebook, so they posted on their wall to celebrate the happy event: “Today is a magical date that we will never forget. Today we are going to reach 5 million fans in our football page. We only can say something to you: 5 MILLION OF THANKS”

They only received nine comments, eight of which were the usual mumblings, but one of them was happy to say what he thought: “Today is also my birthday and that is more magical. The 5 million fans don’t say anything to me. You guys are getting a little boring”.

Last October, Facebook Pages started displaying the new “Talking About This” metric, which measures the number of unique people who have created a story (comment, like, share) about a specific page during the last week. From this data derives another interesting one: the engagement ratio (ER) – a percentage that measures how many fans really interact with the page.  

Over the last three weeks, the average ER for the major European football clubs on Facebook (Real Madrid, FC, Barcelona and Manchester United) was 3.5% of an average fan base of more than 20million each.

I remember many meetings concerning the number of fans clubs have. Some people said: “But, ‘Club A’ have more fans than us. We must do something”. 

A second point of view was: “What is important is not the size, but what we do with those fans.”

The latter way of thinking is the one that produces great content and entertainment.

Unfortunately, the alpha male attitude seems to prevail and everyone is in the rat race of collecting more fans and boast about it. Every day a new ranking appears and every day people run to look at it and get very happy or very frustrated.

But, time has given reason to the second point of view. If football is one of the most passionate sports and if we are talking about some of the most representative brands in the sector, a 3.5% ER is something not to be proud of.

The fact is that most of us are managing these new social media assets the same way we did with old media. We have a lot of fans and reach? Great! Let´s push messages like crazy and let´s boast about our supposed reach. Elements like ER (Edge Rank) and the structure of the new Facebook Wall has put us back into place. It doesn’t matter how many fans we have, we are not going to reach any of them if we are not relevant.

The point is that we are missing the opportunity to use the new technical possibilities of engagement, as well as the data and insights behind it. Now, we know who the fans are, their sex, age, language, country and city. We even know what kind of messages they responded to in the past and what do they do after that.  We can use all this data to profile remarkable content in the way of customized messages, engaging apps, demanding polls, video that shows the bowels of the club and so on.

However, most of us limit ourselves to the average post with a link.

Sponsors and licensors must be more deeply involved. Closing deals or enhancing old ones based on a number of followers is not going to be relevant at all. A due diligence of the sponsee´s social media assets must include a deep look at the insights of the fan base, to what kind of stimulus they react to and a deep thinking about how products or services can engage with the rightholder´s brand in a meaningful way.

Nowadays most deals are based on number of posts, tweets or video displays without any deep analysis. A vicious circle occurs where poor results arrive because of irrelevant content and more messages are pushed to obtain results. This creates a negative attitude, or worst than that, the audience will start to ignore us (remember the low engagement rates?). In the process we also run the risk of killing our social media assets.

The responsibility is not small because we can diminish the value of our own media. If brands like football clubs, that are supposed to create some of the most deep and engaging relationships, do not produce real value, this can give support to those that suggest that social media is a fad and a waste of time. You may hear the familiar sound of a bubble being burst with all the negative effects towards digital media.

Strategic movements like the new public ER, as well as insights data, new monetization and advertising solutions are efforts for platforms like Facebook and Twitter to provide brands with tools to create more relevant content and increase not only their own value, but the whole platform itself. Being a part of an industry like sports, with such a big passion component, requires managing the digital strategy of ‘love brands’ and taking full accountability towards more professional, technical and meaningful content.

If we work this way, maybe the next time we post something we will receive the feedback we expect, instead of the usual blathering, or in the worst case scenario, the echo of an empty space.


About Oscar Ugaz:

Oscar Ugaz is the Regional Project Director at Phantasia Wunderman, a digital business consultancy.

Prior to joining Phantasia Wunderman, Oscar enjoyed a extremely successful spell as Digital Business Manager for Real Madrid C.F, where he managed the club’s e-commerce, online video business, commercial strategy of realmadrid.com portals and social media strategy. He is responsible for launching the club’s Facebook (currently 25millon ‘likes’), Twitter (currently 2.5million followers) and YouTube channel (currently 54million views).

With a career in digital marketing spanning over 15years, including projects with major brands such as Movistar, SABMiller and Toyota, Oscar often travels the globe as a keynote speaker, often participating at events and conferences on Digital Business Strategy.

He has an MBA from Universidad del Pacifico (Lima, Perú) and has been Consultant and Teacher Assistant of the Wharton Business School GCP Project. 

Oscar Ugaz twitter: @oscarugaz

Oscar Ugaz’  isportconnect-profile-widget

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