Winning in Social Media

The digital age has revolutionized the way companies and brands interact with consumers, and soccer clubs are no exception. It's no secret that social media has given companies a plethora of new platforms and vehicles with which to engage their consumers and target audience. The trick lies in how to incorporate all of these tools into a cohesive and effective marketing plan that truly increases consumer involvement and engagement with your company, brand, or in this case, club.

Meet the Boss TV (www.meettheboss.tv) recently conducted a study, analyzing the social media presence of the top five biggest clubs in world soccer: FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea FC, and Inter Milan. The study dubbed FC Barcelona the "Social Media Champion" of the five teams, after analyzing each team's presence on Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Barca, as the club is affectionately referred to by its fans, won not because it has the most fans on each social media platform, though it did for Facebook and Youtube, but because it had a well rounded presence for all four sites. While some brands might be better suited to one particular platform over another, for example Twitter, the key is to give your consumers multiple avenues to engage with your brand.

This is a two-way street, however. It's not enough to simply set up a Facebook, Twitter,a nd Youtube account for your brand and say you've done your job. Successful brands don't wait for consumers to engage with them, they go after their consumers and actively request for their involvement, posting surveys, contests, and trivia questions for example. This, however, is still pretty vanilla as far as social media campaigns are concerned. To really set yourself apart as a club, you need to think outside the box a little bit. For instance, why not let your fans choose the starting line up for a friendly match via Facebook? Whichever line up gets the most votes or 'likes' is the one you put out on the pitch on match day. How much more involved can you get as a fan? I realize that some clubs might be hesitant at this idea, but it's only a friendly, and you never know; you might uncover a duo up front that works extremely well together that you would never have thought of putting together by yourself. You can't be afraid to take risks.

This is just one idea. Social media, the way its evolving, gives you almost endless possibilities, limited only by your imagination, and willingness to be bold. Successful teams will link all of their different social media campaigns together, and not just via the literal link on each page that allows the user to click and travel to that specific page. I'm talking about linking everything back to a central theme or idea, which can be very effective. Often times this can be a charitable cause, a mission statement, or slogan. In Barca's case, the "mes que un club" mantra is ever present in almost everything they do, and it unites their fan base in a way that I would venture to say no other club does. Whatever the campaign, the strategy should always be the same: engage and involve your consumers with your club.

Reporting on the business side of the world's game.