The relationship between social media and football has globally become more relevant with each passing day. Only last week, Twitter and Facebook served Suarez’s head on a plate after a bite and overall, the global success of the World Cup will get measured by the number of tweets, facebook posts and Instagram images amongst other factors.
According to a very excellent and trusted Football Social Media metric site- www.folos.im, there are currently a total of 66.7 million twitter followers across 1859 teams worldwide. In Africa, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates lead the list with over a combined number of twitter followers standing at 44500 plus.
Without looking at any other country in Africa (Al Ahly and Zamalek of Egypt, Kotoko of Ghana and Simba and Yanga of Tanzania e.t.c) Kenyan football performs poorly in this regard.
Social media in football has become a primary medium for fans to find out the latest about their clubs, the transfer market and live game commentary. It’s also opened up a new wealth of insight on players lifestyles.
For clubs, social media should also be a new gateway to engage and win more fans. As a marketing and engagement medium, social media is constantly switched on and active.
In the modern world, clubs can tap into these communities for crowd sourcing of new opportunities, more traffic for club websites, new markets for merchandise and above all- improved better relationship between club and fans (customers).
While the story of Kenyan football clubs on social media is not a great one for the books, a little effort undoubtedly goes a long way.
Some time back last year, on this blog I wrote about the performance of Kenyan Football Clubs on the web.
The feedback on the same was amazing as well as shocking.
Gor Mahia for all the hype and fanfare they generate; slightly over a year ago just had 675 followers on twitter and around 6000 facebook fans.
So much has since changed and according to the site and social media administrator @odhisghai24, the club had to take serious steps in the pursuit of online engagement and activity.
“Whereas in the past, all we did was to post stories and links on our social media platforms, we now seek to engage more with the audience and live tweet during events as well as reply to tweets more often,” notes Mr Odhiambo when asked on the secret to the surge in numbers.
While Mr Odhiambo also notes that the official club website receives traffic from search engines, he points out to social media for the great numbers the website currently records. In just between March and Today, www.gormahiafc.co.ke has had over 13.2 Million hits and counting, of the 13.2 million, he agrees that over 80% of the total has been traffic redirected from social media links.
Social media hasn’t just been a great way to get the word about the ‘PAYBILL’ number across, it’s been used effectively by the club to marshal club fans to attend First team games and even reserve team games.
But just because it’s clear football fans want to derive more from social media, it’s a fallacy for clubs to ‘jump in’ without a strategy.
If clubs set up a social media account without any real investment/purpose behind it, then they court failure. Sure, they might pick a few thousand RT’s from the ‘surprised’ crowd on the back of their ‘brand’, but they will fail in that they have missed the opportunity.
“We want to give the readers daily and authentic information, we don’t want the club tweeting links of news sites- some are always wrong and inflammatory,” notes Odhiambo.
“Football clubs in this country need to publish their own work online more frequently; it gives it more authenticity as it’s the official standpoint of the business. Having a team of dedicated and passionate members minimizes chances of irregular updates and maximizes on club branding online” he adds.
Football clubs need to embrace social media with strategic and long-term approach.
Purpose; What is the club going to use social media to achieve?
People; who is your social media activities targeting? Age? Are your fans even on social media?
Platform; what channels do your fans work with best? Where do your fans interact online, Facebook? Twitter? Google+?
Performance; How will you do it? What is the best way to reach your goals? How will you measure success? Who runs your platforms?
Above are a few ways in which clubs can best use social media to get the best out of their brands. They might not be revolutionary, but with a little time and more effort working around these elements, football clubs can reap huge rewards.
JUST SO YOU KNOW; In the Gor Mahia, Chase Bank deal, Chase Bank got advertising space on the website and just as you read above, 80% of the website traffic Gor Mahia receives every month is redirected from social media. Think about it.
Happy Social Media Day