I’ll start by saying it’s not only ITFC who are missing a massive opportunity – almost every football club in the country could (and should) be doing more with social media. I’d also like to say that generally ITFC are good with their fans and fan engagement offline, the club often runs events for fans with members of staff and coaching staff turning up to answer questions.
However, social media opens up the opportunity for ITFC to engage with fans everyday not at one off events. Sports teams have a MASSIVE advantage over other brands when it comes to social media – almost every team will have dedicated fan sites, un-official fan pages and people talking about them all day long and in my opinion this is one of the reasons that many clubs are yet to get involved in social media – they don’t need to chase publicity and start conversation! They will get coverage everyday without doing anything, but, why not capitalize upon that? And make the most of the opportunities provided by social media?
Besides itfc.co.uk the club has very little official online presence and as far as I can make out they have no official presence on any social networking sites.
There are however many un-official ITFC fan groups and pages on Facebook the largest of which are:
Ipswich Town Football Club – 3,829 fans.
Ipswich Town – 2,290 fans.
And one page which may be of particular interest to Simon Clegg –“Improve the atmosphere at Ipswich Town games!”
From looking at these pages its clear there’s an audience for ITFC and I’m sure they could attract a large number of fans to an official page if they were sharing the right information and content. There’s already plenty of conversation about ITFC across a few social networking platforms and the club should really be getting involved and making the most out of this.
A couple of missed opportunities
When researching this post I came across this article on the ITFC website “NOMINATE YOUR FAN OF THE YEAR.” This was a huge opportunity to start engaging with fans across various social media networks. ITFC could have put out the question: Are you ITFC’s fan of the year? Challenge fans to upload videos to YouTube of why they should be fan of the year, get fans to add pictures to the facebook fan page of them at games or showing how they have gone beyond the call of duty to follow ITFC.
A second missed opportunity happened very recently when the club released the new away shirt for next season with very little hype and promotion – the only reason I came across it was because another ITFC fan mentioned it on Twitter. Of course it was mentioned at Saturdays game and in the programme but I was pretty underwhelmed by the whole thing and if I wasn’t at the game Saturday or on Twitter I probably wouldn’t have realised they’d launched it yet.
In contrast let’s take a look at how Umbro utilised social media to build up interest in the new England away shirt prior to its release – they used their blog to show where the design inspiration came from, posting glimpses of the shirt on Twitter and Facebook. Everyday they were sharing more about the shirt and interacting with England fans, I knew exactly when it was coming out, how it was designed and all the thought that went into it – the only thing I didn’t know what the shirt looked like, but, I knew I wanted one!
The ITFC manager, Roy Keane, was one of the most famous and influential players of the premier league era and since his appointment the club has received a major boost in press and TV coverage.
However, ITFC could surely utilise this further through social media. Before every match Keane writes his thoughts for the matchday programme these are also posted on the clubs website (itfc.co.uk) on a page which is hard to find. People (not just Ipswich fans) care what Roy Keane says and these pages on the website could be very high traffic if they were easier to find or even better if they found the fans through social media.
Social media has changed the way we communicate and share information. Just as newspapers, radio, television and the internet have in the past – the only difference is social media is changing things much quicker and like it or not the sports world needs to adapt.
ITFC and social media are subjects I can talk about all day – so don’t be suprised if you see a part 2 posted very soon!
For an example of how clubs should be using social media check out my recent interview with Manchester City.
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