How have social media platforms changed the way millions of football fans connect with each other and feel about their club?
Our Digital Marketing Assistant, Frankie, looks at what has caused the football social media world to change in recent years.
The advanced technology of social media is now allowing more communication between football fans to be possible. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I’ll let you be the judge!
How do football teams engage with fans?
Modern communications play a very big part in keeping football fans in touch with the club they support.
One way football clubs are doing this is by making branded content. This can involve making a promotional video, Facebook Lives or something like a ‘behind the scenes’ from an event. Content like this makes football fans feel like they are really part of the club they support.
Prime examples can be found on YouTube. A lot of clubs do this now but Norwich City made a really good video in the build up to the East Anglian Derby against Ipswich Town.
They then make another ’behind the scenes’ video, letting supporters to see what it’s like heated in the moment down the tunnel whilst feeling really close and almost as if they were participating.
Football fans can also feel a lot more connected with their team if they’re regularly giving fans updates on social media. Although pretty much every platform is used for this, I find the best one to use is Twitter. A good use of social media would be regularly posting pictures of your team in training, match action, updates from the manager and even when when there isn’t a match there should still be lot’s of activity going on.
A football team that really engages its supporters by doing this is Chelsea FC. With millions of fans worldwide it’s a big task to engage them all, but they do it in a really evocative way.
Even when it’s not a match day the Twitter feed is constantly updating fans, handing out information about every part of the club. This includes the youth squads who should ultimately be the future of the club, so its nice for fans to be able to get familiar with these players they might not have heard of.
Using graphics to capture the moment
The last key to catching a supporter’s attention on social media is the use of graphics. This is hugely important in keeping the feed looking lively, and getting across the spirit of the club.
The sort of graphics that catch fans’ attention can include team line-ups, player shots and goal graphics for when a player scores a goal which can sometimes bring humour.
The humour part is well demonstrated by Bristol City, who are good at posting amusing GIFs when a goal is scored.
The positive impact of the FIFA World Cup 2018
We’ve covered the techniques football teams use on social media to engage more with their supporters, but how has the way supporters connect with each other got stronger?
In the past, the English media shone a bad light on the national team and their performances. They did this by doing petty things like posting negative stories on social media while a tournament is ongoing or not really making fans feel connected with the England team as much as they would be with their club team.
This changed during and after the FIFA World Cup 2018 which was held in Russia. In 2018 there wasn’t really much expectation, but there was always hope something magical may happen with a new inspiring manager.
A lot changed in the England camp with lots of media being allowed to get closer than ever before and allowing them to really get to know the players personally. There were fun and games being played among the players which the cameras have never had access to because of this portrayed negative image in the past.
This would give the fans the chance to get an insight into what the mood is inside the camp, are they nervous? How have they prepared? Some fans were even allowed to face-time the players just to make it that extra personal with lots of questions being answered.
All of these contributed massively to the way fans connected with each other promoting positive vibes and, as a supporter, that feeling of belonging.
How do football fans use social media?
The way football fans use social media has its own positives and negatives. The bad side happens across all the platforms, but particularly on Twitter.
This is where you’ll find fans commenting on rival teams’ tweets and giving abuse to one another. It’s the troll heaven for football supporters when it comes to Twitter. It’s rare that someone has a private profile, meaning you can see their profile picture and all their tweets.
This has a bad effect on that person because, for example if you’re a Tottenham fan tweeting about the club there’s no doubt there will be an Arsenal fan that will tweet you hate.
This sort of stuff can lead to online bullying and abuse because some football supporters really do not lie down when it comes to this.
How fans use positivity on social media
That’s the bad side of Football fans on social media, now it’s time for some positivity!
The positive side comes mainly from Facebook because of the different features it offers. Facebook uses groups to help people into one particular topic connect with each other. This is the feature on this social media channel which has brought football fans closer together.
For example, I’m in a group dedicated for only Ipswich fans and although people are very opinionated it’s nothing compared to what goes down on Twitter. I also know of a group called ‘Sky Bet Championship Banter Group’ which is a group for members of teams from that league to give friendly banter to each other.
I feel like it’s certain platforms that are influencing these football fans. Let’s say if Twitter had these sort of features Facebook have then maybe it wouldn’t be as savage.
Facebook is currently leading by example with its more privacy and social connection features. The main features that have really made a difference to how football fans are using social media are groups which allow fans to interact with each other and share opinions.
The other is profile privacy. You have to send someone a friend request to see their profile and what they’re saying so you won’t be bombarded with abuse from an unknown source.
It’s safe to say social media has helped football fans a great deal and it would be great to see it develop more positively as time goes on.