Barclays Premier League side Arsenal announced the launch of its official YouTube channel last Tuesday, joining 300 other top football clubs in the world that have established their own channels on the world’s largest video sharing platform. Though a YouTube channel is not a new tactic in the industry, this announcement from one of England’s most storied clubs serves to further cement the platform as a mainstream vehicle for consumer and customer engagement in the world of modern football.
Arsenal Media Group managing editor Richard Clarke said in a press release on the club’s website,
An official Arsenal channel on YouTube will allow us to reach a new audience and tell the story of the club in a different way. We hope YouTube will help us show the character of our special club and grow our global fanbase.
The Gunners’ YouTube channel has already proven itself successful even prior to the official launch. Last summer the club tested the channel out in a trial run for a period of about two weeks, in which time the channel garnered over 3 million views worldwide on just one video alone when a clip of a fan in Vietnam chasing after the club’s coach went viral. YouTube’s senior director for sport, Stephen Nuttall, remarked,
Three hundred of the top football clubs in the world run official channels on YouTube. The success of the Arsenal channel last summer demonstrates the club’s potential to build a great presence on YouTube.
Like the other top football clubs Nuttall mentioned, Arsenal’s YouTube channel is but a portion of the club’s overall social media portfolio and strategy. Fans and businesses can also find the Gunners on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Soundcloud, WeChat, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo. The various platforms will be incorporated into the YouTube channel as well, as they should, with features like The Chat, Twitter Takeover, and Arsenal Ink all released via the channel to fans.
The challenge for Arsenal will not necessarily be with regard to making the YouTube channel a hit and a success with its fans and the global football community – the club has already proven that it has potential on the platform during the two-week test period, as previously mentioned. No, the challenge is the same for Arsenal as it is for all football clubs, or any business for that matter, with a YouTube channel. And a Twitter account. And a Facebook Page. And a Google + account. And an Instagram account…you get the point. The challenge is to not get sucked into the social media craze “just to have one too” and let the YouTube channel (or any other platform for that matter) flounder into a short-lived and eventually forgotten marketing fad.
This is not to say that YouTube channels themselves as a whole are in danger of being forgotten – quite the opposite. This platform has massive potential in this industry, and many others. The danger lies in not understanding how to leverage all of the aforementioned social media vehicles together to form a cohesive digital footprint and strategy. Too often companies try to convey an important message through the various social media channels and it ends up either getting lost along the way, or it is not as impactful as it could have been because consumers or fans got confused in the shuffle. E-commerce is still an area where the definition of “best-in-class” is yet to be determined, because the field is still very young and has massive growth potential.
In today’s landscape, with all of these platforms and messaging vehicles available to clubs and marketers, the task to navigate the complex waters to reach fans and consumers can be daunting. Sometimes, less is more – the simplest campaigns quite often can be the most effective. Just because a tool is available to be used, does not necessarily mean that companies have to leverage it in every single promotion that they run. Each social media platform has its pros and cons, features and benefits, and most importantly, user base. Understanding the ‘sweet spot’ where the social media vehicle’s user base and your target audience overlap can be a very important factor in a program’s success that a lot of times gets overlooked when designing a digital campaign.
The YouTube channel is a step in the right direction for Arsenal and for global football. The question is not whether they will get a lot of followers. The club is a global powerhouse, and has more than enough of a following to make the channel a success. The question will be whether or not the club can effectively incorporate the YouTube channel into a cohesive digital campaign and connect in a meaningful and innovative way with its fanbase.