Tag Archives: Football

Right Behind Gay Footballers gets fans talking

When Paddy Power’s marketing team attack any subject controversy is never too far away. The announcement that they’d teamed up with leading gay rights charity Stonewall for an anti-homophobia campaign was no different.

According to Paddy Power’s website Right Behind Gay Footballers is “designed to kickstart a fundamental change in attitude” within the game. Players from all 134 professional teams in the United Kingdom have been challenged to show their support for gay footballers by wearing specially supplied rainbow laces during this weekend’s fixtures.

Unsurprisingly much of the consternation lies in the name, with the bookmaker accused of trivialising homophobia by adopting such a crude slogan.

Paddy Power Right Behind Gay Footballers

So, have Paddy Power backed a winner or have they spectacularly misjudged the mood?

The choice of name is a deliberately provocative one but it works. It’s in line with Paddy Power’s fun, fair and friendly brand values while adding to the mischief-maker persona the organisation has worked so hard to cultivate. Rather than adopt a more tactful approach, which may turn their core audiences off, they’ve stuck to using the language they know garners a response.

And guess what? The audience has responded. Since the campaign hit the headlines on Sunday there have been over 24,000 mentions of #RBGF on Twitter, a figure you can expect to increase several times over as supporters play spot the rainbow laces this coming weekend.

As well as the backing of Stonewall, garnering the support of stars like Joey Barton and David Meyler (along with a host of other celebrities) very early on has also given a credibility to RBGF that would’ve been sorely lacking had Paddy Power launched it without any name players associated. Faces lend a legitimacy to the campaign.

The debate about the appropriateness of the slogan will continue, however I get the feeling the success of this campaign is already assured.

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How do you measure the quality of a club’s social media output?

Last night I stumbled into a Twitter conversation involving Sean Walsh, Steven Cole, Daniel Maurin and Tom Chaplin, the genesis of which was this blog post by Social Pundit. The topic was a familiar one – how can you accurately measure the quality of a football club’s social media output?

I say familiar because this is a question I’ve seen asked, been asked and asked myself more times than I care to remember. And I’m still struggling to find a satisfactory answer.

Measurement is the next hurdle those involved in digital communications will need to get over and because there is no standard to compare against it’s proving to be tough. However the privileged position of football clubs mean it could be even more difficult to get an idea of how they’re doing online.

celebrating football fans

The Social Pundit blog post was a stats gathering exercise, not an attempt to evaluate a club’s use of Twitter and Facebook, however there is still a lot of stock put in vanity metrics. Using the number of followers accrued as a guide for quality of output is foolish at the best of times, however football clubs are not your typical brands. Fans will always follow their team, even if the content they share isn’t particularly engaging. They’re brand evangelists.  Newcastle United command over half a million followers on Twitter and Facebook despite the fact their social media strategy is derided by supporters.

Could services that claim to measure influence, such as Klout and PeerIndex, help grade the quality of what clubs post online? Not really, at least not in my experience (says the man who produces a Social Media Premier League table based on the results provided by the aforementioned websites). All these services can do is give you a vague idea of how the land lies, but they’re unable to make a call on the quality of content. Only we, the users, can make the judgement on whether what is being shared is truly engaging.

I’ve previously tried to survey supporters and gather their views on their club’s use of social media. While this method allows you to get feedback directly from the stakeholders with which the club is attempting to engage it is still problematic. Issues with social media strategies can become magnified if things aren’t going right on the pitch (for example, I once had a respondent say their biggest gripe with their club’s social media output was lack of signings!) and conversely many supporters can become defensive if they feel their club is being harshly scrutinised.

Many clubs will have their own criteria by which they evaluate their social media use, such as ROI. Making a business case for social media is important, but are they going far enough in trying to understand what they’re are doing well and what they aren’t? Until there is some sound evaluation methodology in place you’d have to assume many clubs aren’t.

The Social Media Premier League – January 2013

Since clubs are using the January transfer window to revise their squads I thought I’d take this opportunity to publish the latest edition of the Social Media Premier League table.

So what can you expect in the latest set of results? Well, there’s been an near wholesale shift in the scores.  This rise means that clubs who have seen their score remain stagnant, such as Arsenal and Sunderland, have tumbled down the table. This rise can be attributed to many club’s adopting a more innovative digital comms strategy as clubs begin to understand the power and potential of Twitter.

See where how your team is doing below…

klout-flag-square-2 peerindex-logo  TOTAL
1 Chelsea 84 88 86
2 Liverpool 84 78 81
3 Manchester City 84 73 78.5
4 Tottenham Hotspur 82 72 77
5 Aston Villa 72 81 76.5
6 Everton 78 62 70
7 Swansea City 73 64 68.5
8 West Ham United 78 58 68
9 Newcastle United 73 62 67.5
10 Reading 80 55 67.5
11 Southampton 74 61 67.5
12 Stoke City 69 66 67.5
13 Norwich City 80 54 67
14 Sunderland 81 53 67
15 Wigan Athletic 79 55 67
16 Arsenal 84 49 66.5
17 Queens Park Rangers 74 57 65.5
18 Fulham 71 55 63
19 West Bromwich Albion 70 47 58.5

Liverpool’s Twitter presence goes global

We’re often told about the Premier League’s international appeal, usually when the staggering details of the next multi-billion pound TV deal are leaked to the press or the dreaded 39th game idea is floated for the umpteenth time, but social media has really brought home the allure of England’s top flight to those abroad. Check out the Facebook or Twitter accounts of any of the top clubs and you’ll see a large number of responses, many of which are from supporters based outside the UK.

Tough crowd, Rafa

They can’t boo from the stands, but they can sure leave nasty messages!

It may seem easy to ignore these supporters, after all they’re not able to boo from the stands if things aren’t going so well, but as more money flows into the game from abroad and teams decide to take their pre-season training camps to the USA, Asia and the Middle East communicating with this contingent of foreign fans takes on a new importance.

But is communicating with these supporters through your existing channels satisfactory when you take into considering the language barrier and other difficulties? Liverpool don’t seem to think so.

The past few weeks has seen several accounts created and verified simply to cater to Liverpool’s army of fans from across the globe. Supporters in Thailand, Indonesia, India, Spain, France and the Arab world will now get the latest club news in their language at a time suitable for them.

Liverpool are not the first to create foreign language social media profiles and I’m certain they will not be the last. For a fan-base that may occasionally feel unappreciated or disconnected from events that occur several thousand miles away this is a lifeline. For Liverpool it’s a fantastic way to solidify the allegiances of those Reds from far flung corners of the globe and gain access to an audience that will surely continue to grow.

Sport and recreation in England – 2012 edition [Infographic]

Okay, this isn’t strictly about football but I’d like to take a minute to show off a labour of love that has finally come to fruition.

What you’ll see below is an infographic detailing the state of the English sporting landscape as of October 2012. I hope you all enjoy it.

Sport and recreation in England

It is my first, so all feedback is appreciated.

The Premier League versus the NFL – Infographic

Which is better, football (the one with the round one) or football (the one with the oval one)? It’s a debate that gets the blood flowing both here and in the USA and while there’ll never be agreement on which sport is the best the chaps at Confused.com have produced an infographic to find out which one comes out on top when using social media.

As you could probably have surmised both sets of fans are fiercely loyal, but to two very different things – one the league and the other their team.

No prizes for guessing which is which!

The 2012/13 Social Media Premier League

The beginning of a new Premier League season doesn’t just mean the return of  hours of inane punditry from ex-professionals in dodgy designer shirts. No, it also marks the return of the Social Media Premier League (which, due to my love of acronyms that don’t quite make sense, will now be known as SMEPL).

Just like the professional game, relegation is a fact of life in the SMEPL so out go Blackburn, Bolton and Wolves – three clubs who had contrasting fortunes in previous versions of the SMEPL table – and in come Reading, Southampton and West Ham. How will the new boys fair? You can find out below.

Klout Peer Index TOTAL
1 Chelsea 83 80 81.5
2 Liverpool 84 71 77.5
3 Manchester City 82 68 75
4 Tottenham Hotspur 82 68 75
5 Aston Villa 71 71 71
6 Norwich City 80 61 70.5
7 Sunderland 80 55 67.5
8 Arsenal 83 47 65
9 Newcastle United 71 59 65
10 Reading 80 50 65
11 Queens Park Rangers 72 57 64.5
12 Wigan Athletic 79 50 64.5
13 West Ham United 71 57 64
14 Southampton 69 58 63.5
15 Fulham 72 52 62
16 West Bromwich Albion 70 50 60
17 Stoke City 69 39 54
18 Everton 78 23 50.5
19 Swansea City 11 69 40

Previous versions of this table have seen Chelsea lead the way by some considerable distance and at the start of the 2012/13 season it’s apparent that very little has changed, however the gap has began to close ever so slightly.

Elsewhere it’s clear that Everton have tailed off dramatically while Wigan Athletic have began to climb the league, Swansea are still struggling at the bottom due to a low and possibly unfair Peer Index score, in the North East Sunderland have overtaken Newcastle as social media top dogs and Manchester United still don’t have a Twitter account.

Across the board it’s apparent that scores are rising. Is this down to a greater understanding of how to use social media amongst football clubs, or is it simply due to the recent formula rejigging undertaken by Klout? Have you seen an upturn in the level and quality of interaction from clubs over the summer months? Let me know.

Late Kick Off – Twitter and Football

The BBC’s Late Kick Off North East & Cumbria aired a fantastic piece on the use of Twitter in football last night. 

The Mirror’s Simon Bird speaks very well about the implications, especially from a journalist’s point of view, but there still seems to be a few people, journalists and fans alike, who don’t quite get it.

The Four Year Plan – a public relations exercise gone wrong

The Four Year Plan

If you were watching BBC2 late on Sunday night (and let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you be?) you may have stumbled across The Four Year Plan, a rather entertaining piece of film highlighting the unmitigated disaster that was Flavio Briatore’s tenure as part-owner of Queens Park Rangers.

The documentary, which was commissioned by the Formula One tycoon, doesn’t really fulfil its presumed purpose as an ego trip come PR ploy but instead acts as a check-list of all the things you really shouldn’t do or say (at least not publicly) if you’re the owner of a football club.

Flavio Briatore

Flav - A PR Nightmare?

Whereas much of the shock comes from what we see going on behind the scenes (Briatore’s constant interference in first team affairs, his predilection for sacking  people and the fact he’s seemingly unaware that his words can and will be translated by the film makers) the way in which fans are dealt with is also rather unnerving. At one point Briatore, after being heckled by QPR supporters, threatens to sell the club unless the names of those booing him are handed over. There’s only so much that the put-upon press office can do to play down altercations such as this, presumably because they’re too busy drafting club statements regarding the most recent hirings and firings.

I imagine The Four Year Plan will be forever thought of as the Spinal Tap of sporting documentaries, but beyond the obvious entertainment value it does pose some serious questions for PR professionals. I mean, how on Earth would you handle a man like Flavio Briatore? At what point do you tell him that allowing a film maker to record the owner talking about texting his manager instructions from the stands isn’t brilliant for the club’s image? And how long after you suggest he tone it down would it be before you got your P45 in the post? It’s a tough one.

The social media Premier League table

Last week I wrote a very short post about whether it mattered if Premier League football clubs were any good at using Twitter and I decided that it doesn’t. The basis for this conclusion was that the loyalty of your average football supporter trumps the need for new and interesting content. Hardly a ground breaking conclusion, however this realisation also made me think about how we could better discover who’s top of the social media league table.

Taking inspiration from Richard Bailey’s #socialstudent experiment I’ve used two analytical tools to study the social media footprint of the members of the English Premier League, adding the scores from both together and then halving that number to come up with the total. See where your club places below:


Team Followers Klout Peer Index TOTAL
1 Chelsea 672,155 77 64 70.5
2 Manchester City 245,280 76 58 67
3 Liverpool 763,632 78 50 64
4 Arsenal 1,278,585 80 47 63.5
5 Tottenham Hotspur 147,264 69 58 63.5
6 Bolton Wanderers 17,096 59 62 60.5
7 Norwich City 28,722 66 53 59.5
8 Aston Villa 41,389 63 51 57
9 Fulham 35,203 64 48 56
10 Sunderland 37,246 66 46 56
11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 27,740 64 45 54.5
12 West Bromwich Albion 10,922 58 50 54
13 Everton 41,993 66 40 53
14 Newcastle United 50,158 61 43 52
15 Queens Park Rangers 23,887 60 40 50
16 Stoke City 21,738 55 33 44
17 Wigan Athletic 10,173 56 32 44
18 Blackburn Rovers 13,691 49 32 40.5

(N.B. You may have noticed that Manchester United and Swansea City don’t feature. There’s a good reason for this, mainly the lack of a Twitter account for the former and an incomplete set of metric data for the latter. Don’t worry though, should either situation change I’ll post an updated list as soon as possible!)

There are a couple of interesting points to come out of this exercise, the main one being that while followers are important they are not the be all and end all. Despite a gulf of over one million followers the combined Klout and PeerIndex scores of North London rivals Arsenal and Spurs are exactly the same. Further down the list there are examples of clubs with a smaller number of followers sneaking ahead of the more recognised names.

Unfortunately I don’t expect to see Chelsea fans dancing in the streets of south west London tonight on the back of this post, after all the reliability of metric data is still up for some debate. That said I still think there’s enough here to give those of us who use social media professionally some food for thought. It’s becoming apparent that there’s more to life than just followers.