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Could Social Media Save English Cricket?

Could Social Media Save English Cricket?

For cricket fans the world over, 2005 evokes every superlative in the cliché book. The Greatest Ashes Series of all time, the series to end all series, theatre on an unparalleled scale in the history of cricket.

What a load of nonsense. The 2005 Ashes is the worst thing that ever happened to cricket. It’s the year that cursed a generation.

Ever since that fateful summer, my relationship with the gentleman’s game has been tumultuous, confused and epitomised by endless frustration. Simply, it was too much too soon. As an 11 year old I watched in awe as everyone I knew (yes, even the year 6 cool kids) experienced a sort of religious cricket awakening. Suddenly everyone was talking about the Ashes, everyone wanted to play cricket all day.

But in a sickening twist of fate, what followed that euphoric summer was a gaping chasm and the haunting realisation that everything would simply never be that perfect again.


A Natwest T20 Blast match between Hampshire and Glamorgan. Image courtesy of Warren Duffy on flickr

Cricket promptly disappeared from terrestrial TV to Sky, depriving the generation that followed mine of the ease of access to the sport that so captured the imagination that summer.

And now here we are, seemingly scratching around from week-to-week in search of a way to save the terribly British game of cricket, right here in Britain.

For those who watched that series, there were so many moments that were unforgettable:

Freddie Flintoff and that incendiary double-wicket over, Kevin Pietersen’s blonde Mohawk, Ian Bell waking drenched in sweat as Shane Warne haunted his nightmares, Simon Jones swinging the ball like it were Mark Ramprakash’s hips, Michael Clarke shouldering arms and having his off stump obliterated, Simon Katich shouldering arms and having his off stump obliterated, the King of Spain, Harmison’s slower ball, Woodworm bats – I’m not sure a single member of my colt team didn’t buy a Woodworm bat in 2005– that summer could not conceivably have been better.

image courtesy of intocricket on flickr

I don’t know what’s better, Freddie Flintoff’s smoulder, or that majestic Woodworm bat. image courtesy of intocricket on flickr

English Cricket has failed to replicate this ever since, and while the move away from Free-to-Air Television has doubtless stifled its exposure, it has been a broader failure to evolve how it speaks to younger audiences that has quickened the sport’s demise.

The Big Bash League has shown the positive impact that television coverage can have on the game – viewing figures and attendances have simultaneously soared in Australia – but there is a tendency to pin all the blame on TV and overlook other shortcomings. This is particularly pertinent with under 16’s in 2017 – they simply don’t consume news and information from the TV screen in the way we did a decade ago.

Cricket doesn’t hold the global appeal of football, and doesn’t have a massively popular and engaging console series like FIFA or Football Manager to fall back on, so it needs to find more innovative ways to engage fans.

You tube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become the nerve centre which drives the news and sporting agenda for young people. If ever there was a time in which TV could be circumnavigated, it is in this age of social media. Other sports dominate these channels – Youtube has even made stars of vloggers who upload videos of them playing FIFA.

It’s incredible to think, but people playing football games in their bedroom pull in hundreds of thousands of viewers every day while many cricket counties struggle to fill out their grounds. Football is omnipresent, people know everything about it, and they are constantly consuming more information about it.


The Indian Premier League and Big Bash in Australia have made cricket modern and accessible. image courtesy of BubbleOnFire on flickr.

Conversely, cricket is conspicuous by its absence. There is a pervasive, largely unchallenged notion that cricket is a dry, boring sport, something that few would have asserted a decade ago. Has the game become more boring? On the contrary, the perfection of the T20 format has created the perfect bite-size entry point for new fans.

But what has changed is the way we talk about cricket. At its best, cricket ebbs and flows, it provides tension, shock and theatre. But large swathes of the British public seem to have forgotten this. We need to communicate with a modern audience in a language they understand to fight these misconceptions.

Social media is awash with influencers who are interested in sport, not just You tubers and Instagrammers, but what about musicians too? Actors? Young people are constantly engaging with content from these figures and are being influenced by what they see.

Greg James is just one example of the kind of ambassador the sport needs. He’s a fantastic advocate for the game and has landed himself a role presenting on BT Sport. More assets of a similar profile could have a tangible impact on exposing the game.

Why not get influencers involved with England’s players, filming themselves in the nets with Jason Roy or Jos Buttler learning the game? Going along to a match with Greg James? People are so disengaged from cricket in this country that there is a unique opportunity to educate people and rebrand the sport in the process. Cricket is tongue-in-cheek and accessible, it’s a game that lends itself to oddities and humour.

Cricket needs more advocates in the media like Greg James, but preferably with sleeves on. image courtesy of Ric Sumner on flickr

Cricket needs more advocates in the media like Greg James, but preferably with sleeves on. image courtesy of Ric Sumner on flickr

The Big Bash and Indian Premier League are proof that cricket holds mass appeal. I genuinely believe that if we get people watching and playing the game, some will not be able to help but fall in love with it.

The raw materials are there to make cricket a resounding success in England. A formidably talented generation of players are coming into their prime, including the fiery Ben Stokes – heir apparent to Flintoff, and the extraordinarily explosive Jos Buttler, renowned for swatting the ball dismissively out of the ground. The Women’s game in the UK is professional, and has made huge leaps in recent years.

The tools are there to catapult cricket back to the levels of 2005. Social media is just one avenue to achieve this, but one that can make a palpable difference if treated seriously and harnessed effectively by the powers running cricket.


Instagram vs Snapchat: The Stories Debate

Another day, another social media update! On Tuesday, Instagram rolled out a new feature called Instagram Stories.

This feature allows users to upload photos and videos that will disappear automatically after 24 hours. ‘Stories’ sits at the top of your newsfeed, and you can bring your content to life with text and drawing tools. Sound familiar? Yes! That’s because it’s just like Snapchat.

Essentially, Instagram have copied the whole concept of Snapchat Stories. Once a place where you could only see the ‘highlights’, Instagram are ready to take on their fellow tech giant; swallowing their pride with this huge ephemeral curveball. In an interview with TechCrunch, Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom even said that Snapchat “deserve all the credit”.

But what does this mean for the future of Instagram and Snapchat? Reaction has been mixed online.

In favour of Instagram ?

“Good artists copy; great artists steal”, say Next Web who have revived the words of Picasso. Some say that Instagram has taken a concept built by Snapchat but “out-innovated” them with their own spin on the familiar feature. When you think about it, this feature is actually a perfect fit for Instagram. Ultimately, Instagram has made the feature more accessible and easier to use for a wider group of people and higher numbers of users; people who sometimes struggle with the current Snapchat model. In their official blog, Instagram said that now their users “don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed”. The new feature will be rolled out globally to both Android and iOS users over the next few weeks.

Instagram Stories offers something more – i.e. beautiful imagery and highlights; along with a raw, unedited look into daily lives. This is a move that could really bring Instagram to the forefront, to make sure it stays on top. The best of both worlds! Watch out, Snapchat.

Instagram Stories

In favour of Snapchat ?

We spoke recently about how Snapchat really is the app for innovation, and it still is. Snapchat pioneered the ‘Stories’ feature which has taken over the social media world, not to mention Snapchat ‘Memories’, ‘Geofilters’ and ‘Lenses’. Snapchat have been original with their product, a product which has contributed to the decline in “original sharing” via Facebook. Copying Snapchat is an extreme move by Instagram, one which is telling of the problems the app is facing. People have always liked Snapchat because of the freedom associated with it, it is a place where you don’t have to feel judged for posting like you might do on Instagram or Facebook. The new ephemeral feature on Instagram has basically confirmed that this type of sharing is the way forward. Snapchat have innovated before, and there is no doubt that they will do it again.

With a dedicated and loyal fan base, it is hard to see how Snapchat will suffer as a result of this move. Not to mention the fact that Instagram have annoyed many people with their recent algorithm change – ‘Stories’ has just added salt to the wound. With sentiment erring slightly on the negative side, could Instagram become the Bebo of our time?

As always in the world of tech and social media, we can never tell what’s around the corner. Who will reign supreme? Time will tell. In the meantime, the digital team at The PHA Group are looking forward to the next update from Snapchat…



Snapchat: The App for Innovation in Social Media Marketing

Snapchat Logo

Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar


The world of social media is fast-paced and ever-changing. You never know when the latest update, trend or social media fad is going to kick off. Case in point: you might remember last week we posted a blog: ‘Make it Snappy: Brands Who Got Creative on Snapchat’. Within a couple of days of posting, Snapchat had already started to roll out its latest feature; one which could completely change the game altogether – Snapchat Memories. (Just when you started to get to grips with the app, eh?)

Snapchat are leading the industry in terms of innovation right now; not only have they managed to find something that is unique to them, they are also setting an example for other networks – who often scramble to follow suit whenever an update is made.

But I don’t get it, what is Snapchat?

Get downloading, it’s the fastest growing social network! For the uninitiated, let’s take it back to basics…

Snapchat is a mobile messaging app, and social media network, where users engage through short disappearing videos and photos known as ‘snaps’. This is different to all other social media because it is ephemeral. Users are able to create daily stories in 10-second max bursts which can be sent to friends privately, or viewed for up to 24 hours if submitted as a ‘Story’.

In May, Snapchat revealed that over 10 million Brits use the app on a daily basis. The app has exploded in use, recently overtaking Twitter in terms of daily users. Originally, content was completely raw and curated ‘in the now’. The founders of Snapchat say it is an app for “instant expression”. There is a certain ‘fear of missing out syndrome’ attached to Snapchat; limited viewing time on snaps makes users log in daily to view content. Clever move? I think so.

So what about Snapchat Memories? Are they, too, ephemeral?

In the past, Snapchat has encouraged instant communication and the sharing of moments as and when they happen, but now Snapchat also wants you to share your past. Memories does exactly what it says on the tin – it provides a way to save snaps and share old ones within a new section of the app. You guessed it – Snapchat Memories don’t disappear! This is a highly ambitious and significant move by the social media giant, as it takes on the likes of Facebook and Google by moving away from its ephemeral roots. In the meantime, other networks are moving to promote more real-time sharing.

Memories is probably one of the biggest updates to Snapchat in the company’s history (a mere 5 years!) Snapchat has always pitched itself as the app that didn’t store anything for long, but the introduction of the ‘save’, ‘replay’ and ‘stories’ features shows how this has gradually changed.

But what does this update mean overall? And how will this affect companies and brands who use Snapchat?

Initial feedback on Memories has been positive. The main effect could be that Memories will push users to think of Snapchat as their go-to camera app and photo storage space – and, wait for it, there is no cap on storage as of yet. It has yet to be seen, but this may become a problem for other image sharing sites like Instagram and Facebook.

Personally, I think it’s a win-win for Snapchat. While 18-24 year olds are Snapchat’s core base, a recent report in The Wall Street Journal said that 14% of US smartphone users over the age of 35 are now on the app, while 38% of smartphone users aged 25-34 have also signed up to the platform. The rate of growth amongst older audiences is high, and with that, there must be innovation and change to satisfy the audience base. Before dedicated Snapchat fans wince at the thoughts of change they must remember that Memories is essentially a compromise, and Snapchat have simply made another option available.

In terms of marketing, the introduction of Memories is a turning point for marketers looking to use the platform to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences. There is now flexibility to upload branded photos and previously curated content as you would on other platforms. As Tim Peterson of Marketing Land said: “brands will be able to take photos and videos that they had created for use elsewhere – be it print magazines, billboards, YouTube or TV – and syndicate them to Snapchat”.

Memories is not the only place where brands can realise the potential of Snapchat. Apart from having owned Snapchat accounts, brands can also tap into influencer marketing and geofilters. Geofilters are “a fun way to share where you are, or what you’re up to, by adding a fun overlay to your snap”. More and more brands and agencies are experimenting with on-demand Geofilters, where people and businesses design filters for specific physical spaces during set periods of time. This is a great way to increase brand awareness for a launch or major event, or even when a consumer visits a retailer or restaurant, for example. It takes just one day for filters to be approved. Win!

At The PHA Group, we recently created a bespoke Snapchat filter for our summer party and it went down a treat, with lots of engagement across the agency. We had a total of 3.1k views on the filter during the evening.

PHA Summer Party Snapchat FilterPHA Summer Party Snapchat FilterPHA Summer Party Snapchat Filter










So, what’s next?

Snapchat is a really exciting space at the moment, for personal and business users alike. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love Snapchat right now. For me, Snapchat has always seemed like the most authentic social network. It’s a quick and easy way to be social, to learn and to be engaged by other people’s experiences and personalities. So far, the app hasn’t focused too deeply on numbers, with no follower counts. You and you only can see how many people viewed your content – so it’s real, and less of a popularity contest. As it grows, it is likely that there will be a more robust system for analytics introduced, but for now, the onus is on the content, rather than the numbers.

The app is a real platform for innovation right now, as if you don’t change you don’t grow. I believe more and more brands will jump on the Snapchat bandwagon this year as it has become more accessible, but let it be said – to be successful on Snapchat you must also be like the app itself – open to change and ready to meet the demands set by your audience.

The Privacy Shield – Safer Harbour or Sinking Ship?

This week, technology firms across Europe breathed a heavy sigh of relief as Brussels and Washington reached a deal in the eleventh-hour on transatlantic data transfer and privacy rules to replace the defunct ‘Safe Harbour’ agreement, which was ruled illegal in October 2015.

The new Privacy Shield pact, also known as ‘Safer Harbour’, will see the US give an annual written commitment that it will not conduct mass or indiscriminate surveillance of EU citizens, which will then be audited by both sides once a year.

But what went wrong? And why is it so important?

To answer that, we need to go back to the case of whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who in 2013 leaked thousands of classified documents revealing details about the global surveillance programme.

Perhaps the most infamous of these was the PRISM programme, which collected data from around the world including emails, video, audio, photographs, documents and other related materials in collaboration with at least nine companies – Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, Youtube and Apple.

This then brought the Safe Harbour agreement into question. EU privacy law forbids its citizens’ personal data from being sent outside of the union to locations without “adaquate” privacy protections, so the deal saw the US promise to abide by these standards. However, in order to avoid drawn-out procedures delaying transfers, the deal also allowed companies to self-certify their data practices.

Last year, a concerned Austrian law student called Max Schrems took Facebook to court in Ireland after filing a privacy complaint that effectively challenged the safeguards Safe Harbour had in place – he won. The old deal was scrapped and watchdogs were given three months to ‘put their house in order’.


Max Schrems

Max Schrems, Activist. Image courtesy of abdeslam ait hida on Flickr


This left some 4,000 companies in limbo and half a trillion dollars of trade at stake. Apart from the tech giants, who hold all user data at their US headquarters, there were many small businesses that had relied on the agreement to outsource their human resources, payroll and other tasks involving personal data about customers or staff.

So it’s no surprise that many organisations were quick to celebrate and get back to business as usual.

However, not everyone is pleased. Schrems, along with privacy agencies across the continent, have since pointed out that the that the US has not changed its surveillance techniques to be compliant with European law – something that leaves plenty of scope for Privacy Shield to being ruled invalid, just like its predecessor. Meanwhile, the European’s Data Protection Authorities have warned businesses to hold fire on signing up until April while they analyse the legality of the agreement.

My main question, however, is whether the EU would ever dare enforce the law again. Besides the turmoil and angst caused by the first ruling, there’s no denying the benefits multinationals like Amazon and Google bring to an economy, so would they ever risk the potential backlash? Think about the issues surrounding tax avoidance – where’s the real action there?

To me, it feels like we’ve reached an impasse – the US wants to snoop, the EU doesn’t like it, but neither want to lose what the other has. So instead they crack open the champagne and watch a leaky ship slowly sinking in a shark-infested harbour, because what else can they do?

The Power of Social Media: The case of Alan Barnes

Alan Barnes - GoFundMe page

Alan Barnes – GoFundMe page

The #NoMakeUpSelfie and #IceBucketChallenge are examples of two of the most high profile campaigns of 2014. Arguably both were great PR ideas that allowed people to engage, whilst self-indulgently sharing an important message. However, it was social media that played the fundamental role of starting the online conversations that spread the word globally and created an international buzz.

The most recent example to illustrate this is the national news story of Alan Barnes. When the disabled pensioner was mugged in his garden whilst putting out his bins, sympathiser Katie Cutler set up a GoFundMe page to raise £500 to help him. In just three days, over £250,000 in donations had been generated. People flocked to support the cause with some as far away as New Zealand and Canada; but what prompted the unprecedented success of this fundraising campaign?

The very nature of social media allowed for the sheer volume of supporters, from far and wide, to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds in a matter of days. The immediacy and accessibility of Facebook and Twitter provided the vehicle to ensure the desired message went viral and its limitless nature spurred on this frenzy of interest. Every time the story was/is shared, another opportunity for engagement is created and support continues to grow.

Since the page was set up on January 28th, the Alan Barnes fund has received nearly 30,000 shares on social media – 26k on Facebook and 3k Tweets. The story has been all over the national newspapers and the fund has now been halted at £329,000 by his grateful family. Attention is now turning to young mother Katie who is being described as a hero. A new Facebook page named ‘Katie Cutler For An OBE’ has already gathered over 300 likes and another fund has been set up to thank her for her kindness.

Alan Barnes’ story not only demonstrates the growing influence of social media, it displays the way it can unite people and be a force for good. Despite all the negative stories we read, in the right hands, this snowball effect can yield positive results and perpetuate goodwill and generosity. Alan’s story culminated in unbelievable results and encompassed an online community spirit – millions of people working together in a way that has almost made us forget the tragic reason the page was set up in the first place.

#JeSuisCharlie and the Twitter bandwagon

Last week’s attacks in Paris were sickening, of that there is no doubt. The fallout, many innocent people are dead, world leaders are doing their best to be seen to support their French allies and millions of tweets are being sent bearing #JeSuisCharlie.

This isn’t a blog looking at the wider repercussions of the attacks, that’s something far too large to do here, or in any single blog – to look at the rising anti-Muslim agenda, scaremongering and media misreporting, but what can be assessed is the role social media plays in these instances.

Since last week’s attacks, I’d be keen to bet that #JeSuisCharlie has trended consistently. A hashtag which aims to show solidarity towards the victims, defiance against terror and a pro-free speech outlook – big objectives for a mere 13 characters.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

The main reason social media, particularly Twitter, is able to spread this feeling of support and defiance is that, simply put, it’s quick and easy to do so – a great advantage. Yet this ‘click and forget’, ‘like and leave’ mentality is its own worst enemy. Take the previous example of #BringBackOurGirls, a hashtag supported by the likes of Michelle Obama to raise awareness around the Boko Haram kidnapping of 300 girls in Nigeria. Remember that? Outraged at the time? Perhaps you even shared the hashtag. But what then?

Social media, of which I like most people am a big fan, makes news quicker, more interactive, and affords people the opportunity to share their opinion. But when it’s just as easy to back worldwide disgust at a terrorist incident as it is to show your enjoyment of a picture of a cat dressed as a lion, in many ways it cheapens the message.

The nature of social media, particularly Twitter, is transient and perhaps the wider question is can a campaign be sustained through this channel and if so, how?

Yes, being able to say X million people worldwide have backed #JeSuisCharlie is powerful in itself, it is a message that society won’t be defeated, but surely a much more powerful measure of impact, of our resistance, is to ask people a month down the line who still really cares? This may sound blunt, but the news agenda moves quicker than ever before and most stories are forgotten.

The Paris attacks perhaps are (and should be) too large to fall into this category, but only time will tell.

The Facebook Onion – peeling away at ‘dark social’


Facebook Tor Dark Web

Facebook dark web, courtesy of Sarah Marshall,


The underground internet community is alive and buzzing following Facebook’s announcement this week, saying the social media giant would be allowing users to connect directly to its platform via anonymity network, Tor. From now on, this means users will be able to hide their location and identity, and visit the social network without the risk of their activity being tracked.

But while the world argues about whether this is a great development for freedom of speech in oppressed societies or a huge threat to national security and a goldmine for conspiracy theories, I can’t help but think that there’s a more self-serving reason behind this controversial move.

Data – it’s the internet’s currency, and for businesses like Facebook, being able to provide more insights into consumer behaviour than your competitors means more marketers and advertisers choosing to place their budget with them over a rival.

However, lately, ‘dark social’ – i.e. when people share content and links via private channels such as online chats and email that are difficult to measure – has stumped many media giants. We’re now in a situation where brands are getting traffic to obscure pages on their website (because who would type into a search bar?), and don’t know how a person came across the address.

Those seemingly random click-throughs make up a huge percentage of visits to websites (recent estimates suggest that over two thirds of ‘social referrals’ come from dark social), but if marketers don’t know where a link came from, they can’t give credit where its due – and equally, social platforms can’t claim the victory.

So, in comes Facebook with Tor, opening its platform to users who previously may have taken their conversations elsewhere, disguising itself as a ‘dark social’ platform. The difference is, of course, that Facebook may well still be able to scan messages for keywords and links.

In other words, Facebook could potentially boost its own metrics by proving to brands that even more users – anonymous or not – are sharing their content on its platform, not to mention continue gathering data that it can use to target onioners with ads.

With requests by governments for user data, be that Facebook, Apple or Google, constantly on the rise and activist plights like the Hong Kong protests regularly making the front page, it’s likely that logging in via Tor will gain popularity. We may even see other media giants follow in Facebook’s footsteps. But I think it’s important that we remember that Silicon Valley rarely does ‘free’ – and if it scratches your back, it will expect the favour in return.

Consumers Will Pay More For High Quality Content

Content marketing has become an increasingly popular method to get a business noticed. For those who are not in the know, content marketing involves creating and sharing content. Whether it is video posts, Facebook and Twitter posts or blog posts – it is a way to get customers to engage with the brand better, customers who are potentially going to be advocates for the brand and spread the word to an even wider audience.

Rather than some traditional methods of marketing, which involves the ‘hard sell’, content marketing helps to build a rapport with them, and helps to give your brand some personality.

You might want to write a blog post about a particular event your company is holding; Instagram pictures of your new office pet or create a viral video and upload it to YouTube. Anything that encourages customers to engage with your brands in a less formal way.

New research suggests that customers could be more willing to part with their cash for a firm that uses good quality content marketing. In fact, two-thirds of consumers are more likely to buy from firms whose content they enjoy, even if it costs a little more than from a brand that doesn’t.

However, when it comes to content marketing, some brands get it wrong; like engineering, or finance, there’s an exponential difference between merely good content and exceptional content. You can distinguish yourself from the 99% of your competitors by pursuing the exceptional – brands get this wrong by sharing other people’s content instead of creating their own. Sharing is a great thing in the world of social media, but when many people are all sharing the same content at a time, it’s pollution.

Brands That Do It Well

Red Bull is a great example of a brand-turned – publisher that has mastered the art of story-telling.

Consumers Will Pay More For High Quality Content

If you’ve seen their adverts, marketing stunts (Red Bull Stratos Jump), it will be no surprise that their blog is designed to entertain and motivate readers.

Red Bull created a lifestyle around their brand by effectively implementing the four I’s of storytelling: Immersion, interactivity, integration and impact.


Facebook to introduce auto play TV adverts

If you were to conduct a survey as to what people thought was the webs most annoying and irritating features, no doubt auto play videos would feature prominently alongside ‘pop-ups’.

So the news this week that Facebook is to begin hosting television style online auto play adverts, will be poorly received by the 88 to 100 million users who use the social media platform during prime time television hours. Bloomberg have reported that Facebook’s far reach and large user numbers during peak television hours have prompted Mark Zuckerberg to decide to sell prime-time advertising spots for $2.5 million a day. It Is also reported that Zuckerberg pushed back the decision to introduce TV adverts twice previously, in order fine tune it so that users wouldn’t find it intrusive.

Unlike regular television adverts, Facebook TV adverts will only target gender and age, as opposed to interests or area. This differs slightly than the current advertising model that Facebook uses, which is more targeted at personal interest.  The adverts are reported to last up to 15 seconds (the same duration as an Instagram video) and feature in the newsfeed, as opposed to current ad’s, which feature along the side. The percentage of Facebooker’s who use the website as opposed to mobile devices continues to grow, and is now measured at 61%, making it a perfect time to introduce adverts.

The ever-changing social network continues to develop its features, by recently adding hashtags, regularly changing the layout of the news feed and profile page. The introduction of TV-style commercials shows Mark Zuckerberg is further willing to add disruption to its user experience in favour of being an attraction to advertisers.

Football Stole the Social Media Cup

Football (Soccer) is stealing the global stage when it comes to social media Forbes magazine pronounced this week, Real Madrid CF knocking previous chart-toppers Man Utd off their perch, and Barcelona running in third. On the right of the image below the teams were ranked in order of franchise value and then their combined Facebook and Twitter following. To the left, the size of the bubbles represents their social following. We thought we would dig a little deeper into Real Madrid’s social media strategy.

Social Media and Sport #DigiSport #SMSport

Real Madrid is one of the most recognisable brands in sport, due to their keen embrace of new technologies and communications to increase their profitability. While many UK clubs are just starting to ride the social media wave, see previous article The Future Of Social Media In Sport, Real Madrid have been utilising it for a while now. Since its launch the clubs Facebook page has been a massive success, building up a huge following with over 39m current ‘likes’. The page may have been started as a way for Madrid to test fan interaction, but, it has also developed into a powerful tool to direct traffic to However, Madrid’s strategy focuses on more than just Facebook.

Madrid clearly understands the importance of engagement and providing fans with great content, for one of the player´s birthdays the club produced special video content dedicated to the player itself and alongside this, they ran a 24-hour jersey sale. Social media has also opened up additional ways for Madrid to activate their partnerships with sponsors as now they have the opportunity not only to be in the stadium, on the shirts, and on the website, they can also have their messages pushed across the clubs social media channels. It has also been suggested that some partners value mentions and space on the clubs Facebook and Twitter pages above advertising on the website.

It is resoundingly clear that social media plays a very important part in keeping Madrid in the top position for franchise value, don’t you agree?