Marketing on a Shoe string
For as long as I can remember the word marketing keeps cropping up as one of the problems levelled at the League of Ireland, usually preceded by the words ‘lack of’. Money has always been short, which has hindered marketing efforts of the clubs. Being a big believer in how social media is the perfect platform for sporting organisations and clubs, of any size, to reach out and make meaningful connections with fans.
I would have thought LOI clubs would have enthusiastically embraced it as a cheap (free?) way to help promote themselves, strengthen ties with existing fans and to attract new fans. But from a quick review of their social media activities of the 10 teams in the Airtricity Premier League a lot of them don’t, which as a LOI fan is disappointing.
I am not talking about the implementation of sophisticated campaigns requiring big budgets, rather effective and imaginative use of the new Facebook timeline along with standard tabs that come with every Facebook page such as events, videos and photos.
After reviewing the social media presence of the 10 Premier Division sides here is what I found:
- Even the most basic things aren’t being applied in some instances. For example the link from the Facebook symbol on the home page of one club is broken and has been for over six months now
- Three clubs didn’t display the fact they are on Twitter on their site while two other clubs didn’t have any links to their social media presence at all. Social media plug-ins are a basic social element of any website these days
- Most clubs don’t make good use of photos and given how photos are so central to Facebook users’ experience it is something that should be utilised better. Match day photos, behind the scenes pics, training photos as well as photos of the crowd so fans can tag themselves as well as encouraging fans to upload their own photos are just some of the simple things that can be done
- The use of the events tab was very erratic and would strike me as a simple way of notifying fans of upcoming games on a weekly basis
- Two clubs haven’t registered a vanity Facebook URL
- One club was set up as a personal profile, not as a brand page. Wrong on many levels not least because it is breaking Facebook rules.
- There wasn’t much integration across platforms and I would like to see more clubs cross populate their various social media channels. For example, St Patrick’s Athletic andDundalkboth have plenty of excellent content on their YouTube and Vimeo channels and it would make a lot of sense to upload and share these on Facebook and Twitter at every opportunity to increase the number of views given the investment that has gone into producing them. It also provides multi-media content for fans to share.
- LOI clubs are big users of Twitter with all clubs having a Twitter account. They are using this platform on a regular basis to interact with fans, other clubs and the media which is great to see.
- A few clubs give match updates via their Facebook page, while nothing wrong as such, a high scoring game would result in a fan’s news feed becoming overly populated with match updates which may be annoying for some fans. Live match updates are something that are best suited for Twitter
- No club has added milestones to the clubs history. Definitely a great way to showcase a clubs history and bring back good (and bad!) memories.
- Out of all the clubs Shamrock Rovers are definitely making the best use of social media. They have plenty of varied content on their page including photos and a tab to their online shop. One of only one of two clubs looking to monetise their fan base. Although I was disappointed to be presented with just one video seeing as the video tab was fan gated. I also liked the Shamrock Rovers ‘Hoops on Holidays’ tab which encouraged fans to upload photos of themselves wearing Rovers gear on their holidays last year. A nice way of involving fans.
- In terms of content the clubs need to be more imaginative and look to really engage with fans beyond updates around upcoming matches, results and fund raising activities. The low ‘talking about this figure’ on most pages is testament to this.
- Airtricity aren’t fully leveraging their sponsorship of the league either. The company focuses it’s attention on Twitter and a weekly preview of matches on YouTube. Their Facebook page is populated using an automated RSS feed. I would have thought a sponsor would look to maximise every possible opportunity to leverage their partnership with a league, event, club or whatever it may be.
If any club official does end up reading this, have a read over a previous blog post which includes suggestions on how sports clubs can use the new Facebook timeline to good effect.
So how would the Airtricity League table would look if teams were ranked in terms of their number of Facebook fans ? It is no coincidence to see the team that is using social media effectively well ahead of the other teams. As a Bray fan I would settle for a similar league position come the end of the season.
1. Shamrock Rovers: 23,330 likes
2. Cork City: 7,105 likes
3. Sligo Rovers: 7,002 likes
4. Derry City: 4,840 likes
5. Bray Wanderers: 4,731 likes
6. Bohemians: 4,457 likes
7. St Patrick’s Athletic: 3,162 likes
8. Dundalk: 3,026 likes
9. Shelbourne: 2,347 likes
10. UCD: 1,897 likes
11: Drogheda United: 1,422 likes
12. Monaghan United: 174 likes