I woke up early this morning to attend a football (soccer) panel presented by Richard Ayers. Richard is the chief digital innovator at Manchester City.
The most surprising part about Richard is that he's not even a football fan. He's a data artist and marketer that transforms numbers into captivating customer displays.
Now that Man City is winning trophies, the world's most emerging club has three primary challenges:
1. Growing the fan base overseas
2. Bringing the game to life for those not attending the games nor necessarily watching the games on TV
3. Keeping the the die hard fans happy
And therefore three primary opportunities, driven by social:
1. Acquiring new fans through social channels
2. Providing interactive games and multimedia made from mounds of player and game data
3. Locating the biggest fans and ensuring they see relevant top level content targeted for them
Richard's overarching goal is to build a truly engaging online experience that grows the fan base worldwide without offending the hardcore fans.
Success is of course predetermined based on the team's trophies which boosts profits and allows digital heads like Richard more funds to try new initiatives to expand MFC community online.
I spoke with Richard afterwards about how he plans on using the new Facebook Timeline to tell about MFC's rich history. As a US EPL fan, I suggested he add a timeline post for former American MFC midfielder Claudio Reyna. If he's trying to grow the base, he's got to make it relevant for Americans. Nationality is a key determinant in selecting a team as a new fan.
Football is the world's most popular sport. For many people, the local club is life. Football marketing has the advantage and challenge in clinging on to tradition and pragmatically growing its business in the online world.