Why do football clubs continue to waste their biggest opportunity to engage fans?

Why do football clubs continue to waste their biggest opportunity to engage fans?

This is a post by Martin Crawford, Head of Content at Snack Media

Having sat on both sides of the content fence – from both an official and unofficial capacity – it is fair to say that football clubs have it so easy when it comes to engaging audiences, a privilege that they continually fail to act upon. In short, they are extremely naïve and missing out on a golden opportunity.

There are very few brands in the world that command the levels of loyalty football clubs are afforded daily. Whether it’s via social media, independent websites or mainstream media outlets; supporters cannot get enough content on their respective teams. However, for all the external club news and rumours that is circulating elsewhere, most fans won’t believe what they read until it is confirmed on the official website. It remains the only genuine trusted source and yet is completely underutilised.

I know from experience that key stakeholders at football clubs have different visions of their club website and what purpose it should serve. Privately they will champion the word ‘engagement’ but continually fail to act on it, preferring instead to feature bland, unimaginative content that is safe and ensure that nothing will come back to bite them. There are clubs out there looking to break this mould, don’t get me wrong, but in short, most clubs attempt their engagement piece via social media and whilst this is entertaining for the large part, football clubs want you to transact with them – something that you are unlikely to achieve at scale off the back of a creative tweet or Instagram post. Thousands of RTs and likes are one thing, but when you can get anything north of 20m visitors viewing your website on any given month you can start to see this missed opportunity.

You could make the argument that football clubs’ unwillingness to remain anything other than stiff with their content output allows companies like us to thrive, given the demand for content that supporters want daily. We are certainly doing something right and serving 26m monthly unique users; however, our editorial teams face continued battles month-on-month to evolve our content given how saturated our current marketplace is. Whilst we retain a decent level of retention on our respective online platforms, we are fighting for eyeballs daily to ensure we are hitting our company KPIs on a monthly basis. Very few independent websites enjoy loyalty at scale – given the wide spectrum of football publishers that exist in our space.

Having experienced and sat with my feet in both camps, I remain bewildered at why football clubs don’t take advantage of this unwavering loyalty at their disposal and, in short, clean up. Supporters are disengaged with their club’s official websites for the most part, as other than official news – that remains important of course – there is nothing else for them of interest to see. The rise in official club YouTube channels and the already mentioned creativeness clubs are showing on social media is all well and good and generates engagement but is there really a direct ROI off the back of these creations? Great for brand awareness it most certainly is, but does that really convert at scale elsewhere? Maybe clubs will wake up to this potential one day and take advantage of what could ultimately be a massive new revenue stream.

Author: Martin Crawford, Head of Editorial.

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