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DIGITIZED RED DEVILS- THE RISE AND RISE OF DIGITAL MANCHESTER UNITED

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imagesAbout Manchester United:

Manchester United is a professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. It is one of the most decorated club in world football today, arguably one of the biggest brands in World sports. Founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, the club today boasts about nearly 659 million fans worldwide(According to the survey conducted by Kantar in 2011). It is the most successful club in England with over 20 league tittles and 3 European Cups. According to Forbes the club is valued at over $3.1 billion.

Business Objectives:

With the advent of technology coupled with the introduction of various social networking tools, the club considering its huge fan base and the rising popularity of the social tools turned its attention towards the digital world. It stepped into the digital domain with the following objectives:-

1. Consolidate the existing fan base through various forms of engagements and interactions.

2. Expand its existing fan base with key focus on Eastern Asia.

3. To provide the supporters with a rewarding and engaging fan experience.

4. Monetization  of social media channels.

Approach/Strategy:

The club employed different strategies for  different social media channels.

Facebook

The club opened their official Facebook page on 14 July 2010. To attract fans to its official page the club adopted the following strategies:-

1. Posted team news before matches, match details, players info, injury list, highlights of the matches.  In addition to this they regularly held interactive sessions where fans got to interact with the players.

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2 .Held various competitions online and gave away club merchandise, jackets, Jerseys etc.

3. They also created an app ‘Join Man Utd’. The app allowed fans to create a virtual club jersey with fans’ name on it. The fans could send the jersey to their friends and could also use it as their Facebook profile picture.

Twitter:

Though a little late of the blocks Manchester United finally joined Twitter on 10 July 2013.

#PlayFor

It was a campaign launched by the club and its new shirt sponsor Chevrolet on signing a new 7-year deal with the automobile giants. It helped fans from all across the spectrum to get accustomed with the new shirts with a new logo.  In the campaign fans were asked to register on the club’s official website, thereby allowing the posting of content on their social media channels. It allowed the fans to proudly wear the new shirts in the virtual world. What do you #PlayFor campaign was an extension to the #PlayFor campaign.

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Google+

#FrontRow

The campaign was launched by the club in partnership with Google+. It was the first of its kind, and had never been done before. It was a very innovative strategy  to engage the fans directly.

The campaign allowed a select group of fans from across the world to be at the The Theater Of Dreams(Old Trafford) live through Google+ Hangout, the free , multi person video call feature. The fans would be visible throughout the match on pitch-side digital boards.

 Sina Weibo

In concurrence with its objective of expanding its fan base in East Asia, the club launched its official Sina Weibo account on 10 July 2013. Sina Weibo maybe defined as a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter. It is China’s answer to the various social networking tools popular in the world. It is one of the most popular sites in China and is used by over 30% of the internet users there. Providing content to the targeted fan base in their own language.

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 Results Achieved:

1. Within two months of the launch, the official Manchester United Facebook page became the fatest growing page of any sports team in the world, registering almost 2.4 million fans.

2. Their Facebook page currently has over 68 million likes.

3. On Twitter, within two years they added 3 million followers, adding 3600 followers per day, making them one of the fastest growing sports brand on Twitter.

4. The club recently surpassed 7 million followers on Twitter.

5. Google + has been their fastest growing social media channel. Within 2 years it had over 3.1 million followers and became the fastest growing soccer brand profile on Google+, adding 7900 followers per day.

6. Sina Weibo has been dominated by the club. Within a year of its launch it had over 5.5 million followers.

7. In June 2015, the club had over 100 million social connections when all the accounts were aggregated. 9% of its connection came from Sina Weibo, showing its impressive growth in the Chinese market. Facebook accounted for 64% of all connections. While Twitter accounted for 6% of the total connections.

Learning :

Engagements with customers in any domain  always helps in not only building trust but also in recognizing your potential. Delivering the right content to the right people at the right time and in the right way helps in establishing the brand and garner loyalty. One must have a clear and well defined role for the company before joining any channel. And join a channel only if you are satisfied or sure that the company has a determined role for that channel.

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