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Brands should try to create native experiences within Facebook rather than simply using it drive traffic elsewhere, according to Richard Ayers, digital innovation consultant at Manchester City.

Using Foreign Office embassies as a metaphor, he said that brands need to create experiences that are culturally and contextually relevant to the Facebook audience.

“Do we need someone who just stamps passports and sends people back to the UK, or do we need someone who organises cricket matches and concerts to engage with the local community?”

Ayers works on Manchester City’s social strategy and was responsible for creating an Arabic language social media presence for the club using native speakers.

Man City had previously been simply translating English content into Arabic, but found that people weren’t engaging with it. It now creates unique local language content such as cartoons and live blogging during matches in Arabic. 

It sounds easy, but you wouldn’t believe the reaction we get from the audience in that region.

Ayers pointed out that the challenges faced by Man City are different to normal consumer brands as it already has a dedicated, loyal fanbase.

So rather than building the audience, the aim is to open the club up and make it better at engaging with its existing fanbase locally and globally.

The potential is huge as there are estimated to be more than 3.5bn football fans worldwide, and internationally it is common for people to supports two or three teams – something that is obviously unheard in the UK.

Ayers said the challenge is to avoid pushing out corporate brand messages, so instead the club has created a Facebook timeline that engages fans through content such as an advent calendar, fancam, live stream Q&As and a shirt competition.

The timeline is incredibly important for us as the club has something like 120 years of history that fans are extremely proud of.

He said the Facebook page does very well in terms of engagement, as does the club’s YouTube channel which is a powerful tool for reaching a global audience.

To add a human face to the brand messages, Ayer’s team also setup pages for team captain Vincent Kompany and club executive Patrick Vieira.

These act as sub-brands and allow fans to feel more connected with the club and the team.

Other players also have Facebook and Twitter accounts, some of which are more personal than we would like, but due to the international nature of the team it means we have people tweeting in numerous languages.

David Moth

Published 18 July, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Guy Mucklow, Senior Web Designer at PCA Predict (formerly Postcode Anywhere)

The football club has obviously focussed their efforts on their online activity after their Premier League success which would undoubtedly lead to more online activity. It’s not just social media the club have been concentrating on though; Man City recently reported that they had updated their website and internal CRM systems to include address validation. http://goo.gl/b1PBA

A football club may be a business with a particularly passionate customer base, but fanatical support should be every company's top priority.

about 4 years ago

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai

Social engagement is something most clubs in the English Premier League don't do very well.

With social media now such a big part of every day life it makes sense that clubs would now use these platforms to engage if only to make the fans feel closer to their clubs.

But to date not many are bothering. But then the gap between fans and their clubs is getting bigger and bigger anyway.

about 4 years ago

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Luca

Man City have been doing a fantastic job at developing a global audience through digital technology. Having no global success on the pitch, means regardless of your branding, it's difficult to have a wide international reach.

They had to innovate and think outside the box. Richard and the team have clearly being working very hard for the last few years, well before they won the title.

The title merely cements their status and ability to grow into a global brand.

Football clubs tend to not have the infrastructure to manage the volume of football conversations happening. It's naive to say Premier League clubs don't do it very well, there is an incredible amount of red tape, with the slightest response from a community manager being of a negative sentiment would cause a global PR crisis. Do football clubs need that? Chelsea have been doing a great job via Twitter to build a global audience and Liverpool have also been using tools like Pinterest to showcase their history.

The stereotypical football fan is not your day to day smartphone/social media user. It's important to acknowledge that fan behaviour is also very different to consumer behaviour.

about 4 years ago

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Michael Potts, International Marketing Manager at TescoEnterprise

City's Social Media offerings and fan engagement have been world class for a few years now - this isn't a recent thing on the back of them winning the league.

A major challenge for City is engaging their core fan base whilst building their brand internationally, and it's a challenge that they appear to be overcoming very well.

about 4 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@Pottsy, what a shocker that you mentioned that City won the league ;)

about 4 years ago

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rene

Man City have always struck me as coming up with great ideas in this area. Strikes me as a person, who was never particularly interested in "Citeh" and surely raises the bar for all the other teams.
I think that's the way to do it and the club will reap the rewards of this investments in the (near) future.
Shame that a lot of other organizations have not even begun to understand the value of such investments.

about 4 years ago

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Michael Potts, International Marketing Manager at TescoEnterprise

@Mr Moth

Blimey, it is a small world! :-)

Nice blog chief

about 4 years ago

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Guy Manningham

So often companies fail to fully understand the power of social media and use it as an advertising platform instead of a tool in which to engage current customers and entertain potential customer.

about 4 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@Pottsy, thanks mate. Congrats on the new(ish) job.

about 4 years ago

Barrie Smith

Barrie Smith, Internet Marketing Consultant at Receptional Ltd

*Manchester City ;)

about 4 years ago

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