Soccerex debates digital media

UK: A panel at last week’s Soccerex exhibition and conference in Manchester looked at the issue of web 2.0 digital media and how it has moved the goalposts of fan interaction. On the one hand clubs and their sponsors have many new ways to engage with supporters, on the other they have less control over the relationships and new expectations to deal with.

The panel was moderated by Silicon Valley veteran Michael McBride, VP of business operations at social gaming specialist Lionside. According to him the main themes can be summarised thus:

  • There’s been a shift from broadcast and content marketing – ie websites – to a model where you take your content to where the fans are, sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. “If you’re not present on them, then you’re missing out on the opportunity,” he says
  • The conversation between brands and fans is now far more personal and one on one
  • By engaging with fans, fans become ‘megaphones’ repeating the brand message

Two good examples from the panel illustrated all this nicely. Nike’s Write the Future campaign from last year’s World Cup dramatically lengthened its lifespan and further justified its typically enormous budget through adroit use of social media. Launching on Facebook, it garnered 12m views in 24 hours and tripled the number of Facebook likes for the company in the same period before ever making it onto traditional screens. In the run up to the tournament, it also catapulted the company way ahead of official sponsors such as Adidas, Coca-Cola, Sony and Visa in terms of Cup mentions.

Then there’s Konami, which is looking at meshing real world data into updates of games. For fans, that’s enticing enough (Liverpool fans playing Championship Manager for instance, might currently be slightly less than enthused to still have Fernando Torres in their squads), but for clubs and organisations it gives them the potential to offer virtual goods in virtual currencies as powerful incentives for real world data. “If I’m a Tottenham Hotspur fan, maybe I can get Gareth Bale playing for my in-game team for a week if I sign up for a certain newsletter,” explains McBride.

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