Manchester United — Social Media Strategy
Consumers around the globe use social media increasingly. The platform has made it possible for consumers to share information about products, services, and companies that generate these products. Football has also gained from the social media mania. Clubs and fans can share ideas and bond with fans on the same platform; in a two-way relationship. Harris (who?) points out that licensing, broadcasting, publication and distribution constitute a handsome cash flow across the globe. According to the article, the average sports fan uses between 1 and 2-5 hours each week catching up with their favorite teams on the social media platform. The statistics suggest that soccer clubs around the globe should then exploit the social media opportunities for popularizing their teams and the sport in general. It is also an excellent opportunity for such clubs to bond with their fans (Joanne Kuzma, Viv Bell, & Ciaran Logue, 2014). Comment by GL: explain
Social Media Use and Manchester United
Manchester United soccer club is one major team that gain a lot more from media revenues compared to match day collections. It is clear that Manchester United Managers understood the advantage of media way ahead of the peers. Statistical data shows that MU has over 22 million fans on Facebook alone. Real Madrid is the only team in the world that has a few more fans on that platform. The Manchester United Website membership and following has grown by over 40% every year for five years now. The club has also heavily invested in partnerships. It has links with major world sport companies such as Nike, DHL, Audi, and Aon. The partnership helps the club accrue around110 million pounds; just to keep them in close association. If the view that MU has now become a global brand, it must be because their managers understand what the fans need. The club perceives their global fans as customers. The globalization marketing strategy, which is a blend of global promotion and local marketing, is an effective technique to attract international fans. The club plans to launch an MU social media in future. It is evident that the preferences of existing and potential fans will be of significant interest in the development of such a platform (Jean-Philippe Hamon, 2012).
Although MU established a site on Facebook, it has been cautious about over-commercialization. Accordingly, a decision has been made to relegate sponsored links down to the right of its page or even any MU statements of commercial nature. Rigby says that they do not sell off the Facebook platform until there is evidence that it will not destroy the consistent growth achieved so far. The underlying fear has to do with the apprehension that if by chance, they get it wrong the trend of growing fan base will stall. That same reason explains why the club has not ventured on Twitter. Rigby says the club will not be going that direction until they have figured out the precise role that Twitter will play in the welfare and growth if the club. Notwithstanding, the club is reported to have started a social media network platform. The social network site was a major and daring venture by the club. The focus is on the global viewers (Tim Krabbenbos, 2013). Comment by GL: explain? Who?
TOP CLUBS BY SOCIAL MEDIA RANKING (Nick Harris, 2015)
The top five social media followers by premier League clubs
MU boasts of over 659 million followers all over the world (News & Features – Manchesterunited Web Page, 2012): The fan base per region is as follows: The Americas has over 71 million, Africa and the Middle East has over 173 million fans, Europe ropes in over 90 million fans while Asia has over 325 million. The fan-following and popularity has been derived from a combination of following from both Twitter and Facebook. These two, are used by over a billion people. The wealth has been derived from considering the recently completed season referred to as 2013-2014-year (Nick Harris, 2015).
MU has spread its commercial reach to the automobile spheres too. The team collected a massive $560 million deal with Chevrolet in 2012. Of course, there was a bit of controversy after Chevrolet put its logo on the team’s jerseys. According to Giantasio (2015), it is no longer just the Champagne strawberry fun and joy public awareness stunts, as it once was. It is now about the deals that must be underpinned in clear business terms
Lack of presence on Twitter opened a can of worms for MU. Many unorthodox private accounts were opened under the guise of the club. These events were potential reputation-damaging forums because they could not be held accountable. It was a free-for-all affair. For instance, just 24 hours after Sir Alex Fergusson tendered his retirement letter, there were 1.75 million tweets done based on that even alone. The experience from these events teaches clubs that they cannot afford to sit on the sidelines of the prominent social media-marketing platform (Barber, 2014).
Martin Emery who is a sworn Manchester United fan has three sons. One of them, Jordan is beleaguered with a host of medical conditions that also interfere with his education. Martin was disappointed when he was told that he could not seat members of his family in one place. He was told that Jordan could only have a single carrier with him. Martin set off on a campaign to sensitize the world of MU fans on how he was discriminated. The site named United Discriminates was followed by a blog in the past year. Everything is well that ends well though. Manchester United has since set up a seating area that is accessible for fans with disabilities, their friends, and families (Warren Kirwan, 2016).
Communicating values is a long-term investment and strategy. It is critical to declare what the club stands for, so that it gains loyalty from fans who subscribe to such a statement. Consequently, fan turnover is minimized even when the club is not performing well. One of the commercial strategies rolled out is that the club has reduced its threshold for consumption; fans access MU products with greater ease (Tim Krabbenbos, 2013).
The loyalty of supporters can be strengthened and nurtured by building a strong brand. Dissatisfied funs often stop supporting the team and move elsewhere. It is apparent that major clubs do not seem to be interested in the views of their fans. It has been thought that the reason for the latter trend is that the large clubs think that they can, readily, replace those that are dissatisfied, disenfranchised and excluded, financially, with richer, and more vibrant groups. Unfortunately, the latter supporter is less loyal to the club than the good old traditional fan (Tim Krabbenbos, 2013).
Analysis & Recommendations
1. The social media results show that Premier league clubs elicit more likes and the highest number of football fans about the league events. Yet, it is an established observation that Serie A offers more true interactive involvement with fans over the week. Thus, different teams exploit Facebook differently.
2. There was great disparity among teams. The tweets, followers, and use of videos seemed concentrated among the top teams in the leagues. This is a lesson to football teams to evolve dynamic social media campaigns to popularize their teams.
3. Twitter usage elicits responses across the leagues and show a wide-ranging span of results. A number of teams, especially in the Premier league and La Liga seem to dominate. It is undisputed that many teams have Twitter accounts. However, most of them barely utilize Twitter the platform in a more meaningful way such as effectively keeping their fans posted with the current events in their clubs.
Barber, P. (2014). Manchester United and Twitter — a social media story. The False Nine – Analytical and Satirical Digest.
Gianatasio, D. (2015, July 5). What Globally Ambitious Brands Can Learn From Manchester United’s Marketing Playbook. Adweek.
Jean-Philippe Hamon. (2012). Manchester United F.C: Marketing strategy of a global brand in Asia. Warwick Business School.
Joanne Kuzma, Viv Bell, & Ciaran Logue. (2014). A Study of the Use of Social Media Marketing in the Football Industry. Journal of Emerging Trends in Computing and Information Sciences, 728-738.
News & Features – Manchesterunited Web Page. (2012, May). Retrieved from Manchester United: http://www.manutd.com/en/News-And-Features/Club-News/2012/May/manchester-united-global-following-confirmed-as-659million.aspx
Nick Harris. (2015, March 25). Mail Online – Football. Retrieved from Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3011745/Manchester-United-popular-club-social-media.html
Tim Krabbenbos. (2013). Commercialization Strategies in Football. University of Twente.
Warren Kirwan. (2016). From Nike to Manchester United, brands are listening to disabled people. Scope About Disability.
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