Archive | October, 2012

UKSN Presents: Interview with AS Roma’s Shergul Arshad

UKSN Presents: Interview with AS Roma’s Shergul Arshad

Shergul is Director of Digital Business at leading Serie A club AS Roma.  A passionate football fan who has previously worked at Amazon, Stylefeeder and Time Inc. Here he talks about the lessons learned from taking social media from nothing to being one of the leading lights in the country.  We were lucky enough to catch up with him and ask some questions;

UKSN – You’ve hit 100k fans on Twitter (well done by the way) and have been very active within social especially on Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.  What were your goals when you set out and how have they evolved?

Shergul – We took over a non-existent situation last September. There was only a flash website with no eCommerce portal, no social media and no mobile apps or games.  Our goals have been very aligned from the top down since day one: to bring AS Roma to fans around the world via digital thus growing the AS Roma brand.  Social media seemed like a no brainer way to start the direct communication with fans and allow fans to connect with AS Roma on the platforms that had gained the most traction (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube).  Short term, we wanted to go from 0 to at least top 5 in Italy on those three platforms, metrics we achieved in a matter of weeks! In just 6 months we hit 1 million fans on Facebook, and like most clubs have only been slowed by Facebook’s new page “throttling” system.  With Twitter we see the best percentage growth week over week, and we truly listen to fans: we changed our tone from being only corporate to have a more approachable feel.  We retweet a lot and fans have truly embraced this.

UKSN – You were one of the first football clubs on Pinterest.  Why did you decide that was the platform for the club and has it proved as successful as you hoped?

Shergul – Pinterest represented a calculated play for us to participate in a growing community of shoppers, with different demographics (primarily female).  Part of being a global brand is leveraging the great name of Roma and the colors and logos, so being present on the largest shopping community site made sense with an eye towards eCommerce and globalization.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to have thousands of fans passing links to your products around either.  It was a calculated move suggested by one of our close collaborators in the social media space. Among other benefits, it was a great PR move to be the first football club out on Pinterest.  As we have started to catch up to clubs who were literally ten years ahead of us (Liverpool FC, for instance, has had a Head of Digital for 11 years…we are in year one) it was nice for once to not just play catch up but to lead the pack.  Expect a lot more of that.

(Shergul with AS Roma legend Franseco Totti)

UKSN – Recently we have seen AC Milan hosting their first Google Plus Hangout and have passed 200k fans on the platform.  Is this a platform you are looking at?

Shergul – Absolutely.  We have not launched on Google + only due to a matter of branding and consistency of message between G+ and Facebook.  We are eager to find a tool that auto updates both platforms for free.  In the meantime, we have run three or four major live events via YouTube’s streaming capabilities.  Most astonishing was having 33,000 fans watch a team presentation at the Stadio Olimpico and the average time on site was half an hour!

UKSN – You recently launched ‘AS Roma Music’ with players playlists displayed on your website and available on iTunes.  How did that come about?

Shergul – We have been very adamant about being fan-centric. I’m a diehard football fan as are the other social media team members.  Fans love to feel connected to the team, the players and bringing fans closer to players is one of the missions we have set out for ourselves.  Learning new tidbits about a player is always fun for a fan, and music connects people around the globe.  One day during the AS Roma US Tour, we pitched the idea of submitting a favorite songs playlist to the most passionate music fan on the team, Pablo Daniel Osvaldo.  He loved the idea of creating a playlist and volunteered to go first! Soon we had a frenzy where every player or manager or exec wanted to submit their playlist.  For us it has many benefits.  It creates anticipation and excitement.  Gives fans reasons to come back to the website.  And we link fans off to iTunes where they can download the full playlists – and thus we have an economic tie in as well.

UKSN – We hear a lot about players getting into trouble on Twitter in the UK with things they have said. Has this been the case at all in Italy?

Shergul – Not…yet.  Here’s why: It’s still very new.  When we decided to start on Twitter last October, outside of maybe one other front office person and two to three players…no one was on Twitter.  This was a pattern throughout Rome and Italy.  Our players that used Twitter were all foreigners, from Spain or Latin America.  Twitter had already “bloomed” in places like Spain, Argentina and Brazil. Certainly England and the U.S. as well.  But for Italy, Twitter was and is a new phenomenon.  When we launched, we firmly believe we helped to bring on tens of thousands of new people onto Twitter for the first time.  And if we believe the network effect (a journalist joins to follow our tweets and his or her fans start to join Twitter) then Twitter probably netted hundreds of thousands of new members due to our activity.  Getting back to the original question, there have certainly been “oops” moments on Twitter.  Execs and players from our club tweeting about other teams and players which has caused a media stir.  Off hand comments that get quoted in blogs.  Without speaking for other Serie A clubs, but when we look at our club, we’re mainly hoping for a lot more participation from players.  We offer our support and help to players, and have helped players such as Bojan Krkic (now with AC Milan) grow his fan base tremendously.  As more players are active, surely more problems will arise, but with the right guidance this can be minimized.

UKSN – What is your advice to anyone looking to start a social media strategy for their sports club?

Shergul – There are some key decisions to be made early on.  Do you have multiple Facebook accounts and Twitter handles for each sector or language? We chose the hub approach to centralize fans in one area, sacrificing more personalization.  Do you artificially pump up fans, likes or followers? We certainly do not.  We know for 100% certainty that fellow Serie A clubs AND top teams that writers rave about have bought cheap likes or follows.  In our strategy, we want true fans that won’t clog up our channels with SPAM and will react and take action when we have a new fantasy game, mobile app, eCommerce product or ticket offer.  Artificial, purchased traffic will not be active and will disappoint sponsors who think they are buying into a club with X thousand or million fans, when the reality is many if not most are just artificial fans.

Thanks Shergul! If you have any questions just leave them in the comments section below and we’ll get them answered…

 

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The State of Sport on Social Media – how the SFA & Scottish Athletics use social

The State of Sport on Social Media – how the SFA & Scottish Athletics use social

Guest Post: Mark Stuart is Insight Executive at specialist social media agency Yomego, based in Glasgow. Their clients include Tesco, British Airways and AQA and are part of Communisis Plc.

The moment my Celtic supporting colleague Jp and I were put together to host an event for Social Media Week, there was only ever going to be one outcome. Even though our interests span an array of topics, the one meeting point is sports.

In the past, we’ve both written sporting blogs for Yomego, Jp focusing on the football side of things, capturing innovative campaigns from Marseille, Valencia and Manchester City. He’s also highlighted times when things have turned sour with the likes of Bayern Munich, or from a player standpoint, here’s looking at you Joey Barton. While I tend to focus on a wider approach, recently looking at Olympic sponsorships, the NBA playoffs and the social chatter around Euro 2012. We’ve got the world of sport sewn up.

#SportAndSocial was the culmination of three months planning, as we brought together speakers from Scottish Athletics, The Scottish Football Association and Supporters Direct. The event, Yomego’s last of Social Media Week, took place in Glasgow’s design centre, The Lighthouse and saw attendees from all walks of life, including sports pundits and a scout from a little third division club known as Rangers.

First to the podium, after a brief preview from myself, was Sue Gyford, the Social Media and Digital Communications Officer at Scottish Athletics and the grassroots recreational running programme Jog Scotland. Sue’s presentation beautifully outlined the differing approaches required for each platform and she was able to relay her learnings from managing both accounts on social channels. Interacting with famous athletes was a no brainer for generating engagement, but drilling down to personal successes and local events also helped drive conversation, reaching real grassroots fans.

“If you’re looking out of the window, wondering if you’ve got the energy to go for a run after work today: Woo hoo – go on! You can do it :)”

Sue’s presentation also brought to light a unique case of engagement with a Twitter user named @TheRace4MyLife. The user, who was tweeting and blogging anonymously, reached out to Jog Scotland after the above tweet pushed her to get out for some fresh air. Concerned about joining her local Jog Scotland group, Sue’s personal contact helped her overcome her worries. Since then, she joined her local group and popped in to meet Sue in person at the event. A fantastic example of how Scottish Athletics really understands social, and a proud moment for Sue.

Next up was Kayleigh Grieve, the Digital Media Manager for the Scottish FA. Kayleigh’s talk came at a controversial time here, with calls for Craig Levein to stand down as Scotland manager. She briefly discussed this, noting that controversy is something all teams will endure on social, but that a lot of this conversation doesn’t require a direct response. Instead she focused on the positives, mentioning how Scotland’s use of Facebook to launch the first Scotland adidas kit attracted an additional 35,000 fans in two weeks. The mobile nature of social also presents the perfect opportunity to engage with fans during the matches, and this is something they are experimenting with. However it was also noted that the greatest rewards can be gained in the evening and weekend as this is when the debates really kick-off. Her role certainly isn’t 9-5.

Finishing off the day was Andrew Jenkin, Support Network Manager at Supporters Direct and part of the newly launched Scottish Fans site. Supporters Direct was formed with the goal of ‘promoting sustainable spectator sports clubs based on supporters involvement and community ownership’. Referencing Jock Stein, he crucially noted that fans are the lifeblood of football, and as I opened with, he noted that social is the perfect platform to extend the friendly sporting banter. While Twitter plays a key part in Scottish Fans’ approach, it has also ventured to Spotify and Pinterest, experimenting to see what works with its followers.

All in all it was a great morning in Glasgow, with a healthy debate brewing afterwards. Fittingly enough, the live Twitter stream proved popular, with attendees sharing discussion to their followers. Some of these, including your esteemed site editor Dan, picked up on the presentation, which can be found below.

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England players face Twitter ban ahead of games

England players face Twitter ban ahead of games

Today it has been announced by The FA that England players will be expected to sign up to a ‘code of conduct’.  It not only covers Twitter and Facebook but everything from use of video games, mobile phones and personal endorsements.

The role of social media channels has been one that has been under scrutiny for a long while.  With so many players with personal accounts, who have differing amounts of help in running them, and tweets especially being picked up instantaniously by the press and fans something had to give.

At least now the players have these written down in front of them and they know the sanctions they would face for transgressing them.  The section of most interest to us is on communication;

  • All media activity co-ordinated through press office.
  • All players should play a part in meeting media demands.
  • Go through mixed zones (guidance that no ear-phones etc worn).
  • No criticism on Twitter/Facebook.
  • No Twitter or Facebook comments on the day before the game or the day of the game unless authorised.
  • No media columns.
  • Be aware that texts, picture messages, and BBM messages, can become public.

(picture from Telegraph.co.uk)

The point that most people will take from it is the ‘no criticism on Twitter/Facebook’ which very obviously has been placed in following Ashley Cole’s comments to the John Terry decision made by The FA.

Some may see the timeframe for the ban on using social platforms as harsh but this is around a few games per year.  Thus the amount of communication during the year will be largely unaffected.  The one time it will become more of an issue will be around events.  Will the FA stop players from doing anything for the full duration?  Quite possibly.

Other sports who have restricted players activities are the NBA.  They have, for a few years now, had a rule in place that no player can use social media from between 45 mins before the game starts to a period of 45 mins after it finishes.  This has been to ensure that sensitive info is not given, that players are not tempted to tweet during games (Shaq did this in the early days) and also to give the media outlets who have paid for rights the exclusivity of breaking news and interviewing key figures.

In terms of what England players can expect if they do step over the line.  This can include;

Process:

  • Investigation carried out by CE.
  • All players must comply with investigation.
  • If breach found, then option of sanctions (oral/written warning, exclusion from selection for fixed or indefinite period).

(picture from Telegraph.co.uk)

  • Pending any outside investigation, (CPS etc) CE maintain right to suspend at their discretion.
  • If case not proven or dropped, players available for selection.
  • If non-custodial sentence, CE board decide on case-by-case basis.
  • Custodial – excluded until time to be determined by CE management board.
  • Serious allegations – captaincy may be removed at discretion of CEMB.

SANCTIONS

4.1: issuing an oral or written warning to the player.

4.2: determining that the player shall not be eligible for selection for a specific number of matches or specific period.

4.3: determining that the player shall not be eligible for an indefinite period.

  • Where an allegation of serious misconduct has been made, the Club England Management Board may suspend a player while the matter is investigated further and/or pending the outcome of any footballing regulations or criminal investigations.
  • Serious misconduct includes:
  • Theft, dishonesty, fraud, deliberate falsification of records.
  • Assault, battery, violence, deliberate damage to or misuse of FA property.
  • Breach of safety-security regulations.
  • Deliberate damage to FA property.
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • Any form of discrimination.
  • Deliberate misuse of confidential information.
  • Serious breach of FA rules/regs.
  • No conduct that significant, materially or adversely impacts on reputation or integrity of FA.
  • ANY decision of CEMB is final – There is no right of appeal.
  • CEMB have power to publish in the press.

For more details on the rest of the items involved in the ‘code of conduct’ you can view the article here.

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talkSPORT Live To Broadcast Via Twitter

talkSPORT Live To Broadcast Via Twitter

talkSPORT’s global soccer service talkSPORT Live has joined with Twitter to bring free, live commentary of the world’s best soccer league, the Barclays Premier League, to Twitter users. For the first time, from this weekend (20th October), live streaming of Barclays Premier League English language play-by-play will be available through talkSPORT Live’s audio player embedded in an enhanced Twitter profile page at twitter.com/talkSPORTLive to fans outside the European Economic Area, and is also available in Spanish and Mandarin via twitter.com/talkSPORTLiveEs and twitter.com/ talkSPORTLive8.

These profiles will feature streaming of live commentary of leading Barclays Premier League fixtures, which users will be able to retweet to share with their followers and feature in their own Twitter timeline. The player is optimised for Twitter’s new mobile interface on iPhone, Android and iPad. The player has been developed by talkSPORT’s fellow UTV Media plc group companies Tibus and Simply Zesty in close cooperation with Twitter.

talkSPORT Live was launched by talkSPORT at www.talkSPORT.com in August 2012 to give fans across the world access to live and on-demand play-by-play of every Barclays Premier League match in English, Spanish and Mandarin . The station forms part of a wider international strategy which saw talkSPORT agree  a deal with the Premier League for the exclusive package of international audio broadcasting rights for the next four soccer seasons (2012/13 – 2015/16) earlier this year. talkSPORT Live also has broadcast partners across five continents including SiriusXM in the USA and Canada, TSN and TEAM stations in Canada, Brila FM in Nigeria, Citi FM in Ghana, SBS in Australia, Radio Sport in New Zealand and Astro stations in Malaysia who all broadcast the station’s Barclays Premier League commentary.

Launched in 2000, talkSPORT is the world’s biggest sports radio station with an audience of 3 million adults in the UK alone and was named Sony Radio Academy Station of the Year in 2011.

Scott Taunton, Chief Executive, talkSPORT, said: “talkSPORT Live is a unique offering for soccer fans around the globe and this integration with Twitter builds on the service’s success by adding an exciting way for listeners to keep up with their favourite team. Sport and social media has proved to be a winning combination, with Twitter as the perfect tool for fans to share their passion. This is the first of what I hope will be some great digital partnerships for talkSPORT Live.”

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Spurs set out how they will use Social Media this Season

Spurs set out how they will use Social Media this Season

Many clubs and organisations struggle to develop their voice and reason for being on social media channels sometimes.  It can be a case of joining up because everyone else is and then trying to play catch up in getting a grasp of it.

Others will get a grip of it quickly and develop their reasons, often something that is worked out by speaking to different departments to gain consensus.  Ultimately the marketing or comms departments will take charge and run it.

We are seeing now more having a clear goal as to why they are there, and that sometimes is half the battle.  Know the ‘why’ and the rest will fall into place much easier.  Tottenham have certainly become one of these clubs and recently published these reasons so that fans know where they stand.

Firstly they published ‘How we are going to use Twitter this season‘ in mid-September.  They come across as wanting to be open and honest about their aims and answered some of the more common questions.  A couple of examples are;

Q: Why is the Club on Twitter?
We see Twitter as a great way of engaging with our fans in order to help bring you closer to the Club and to make sure you hear the official news from the Club first. We want to build the biggest community of Spurs fans on Twitter, so please get your friends to follow@SpursOfficial too!

Q: Who Tweets as @SpursOfficial
Our communications team helps manage the feed and our Social Media Manager oversees the way we use the channel, working with other areas of the Club to bring you up-to-date news from players, fixture, updates from the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and our charity campaigns.

This month they have included their Facebook reasons in another post, called ‘How we use Facebook‘.  Again this has come from a mixture of questions that been asked regularly and others they want to inform fans about.  A couple of nice snippets are;

Q: Why don’t you ban the trolls and fans of other clubs from our Facebook page?
It is hard to know when fans join our page if they are genuine Spurs supporters or from other clubs. The best way to stop the trolling on our page is either to report the post to Facebook or to ignore it. We want to make our Facebook page the most welcoming page for Spurs fans and we need your help to make sure it is!
 
Q: Why don’t you comment on transfer speculation?
Our Facebook page is the place to go to get the facts first. We will bring you all the up-to-date news as soon as we have it, so make sure you like our posts in order to see all of our latest news.

They aren’t the first to add some context as to their offering on social media platforms.  To the average fan they may not have come across Twitter or may not know how to use it very well.  By giving fans a reason and some help then they can move fans who are digitally active onto their social platforms.

Liverpool have an easy to find section which gives links to player and staff accounts.  Whilst Celtic FC have been advocates for a while and earlier this summer published a section on their Twitter feeds.  This is a club who have gone down a different route, and one I am a fan of, by separating the main sections of the club and developing their own accounts.

This will have come from gaging how much traffic and what different questions they get asked about the most.  They can then involve experts from those departments and ensure fans get answered quickly on their queries.  They have several accounts including;

It’s a good move by clubs and brands to be open with what they are setting out to do and why they will be acting (or not) in certain ways when it comes to the questions and content.  By setting expectations then it will drive what content they produce and how useful it is to fans.

Well done to @RKTweets at Spurs, @PolishTurnstile at Celtic and all the other social media guys doing great jobs at their clubs around the UK.

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AC Milan to host first Google+ Hangout with Daniele Massaro

AC Milan to host first Google+ Hangout with Daniele Massaro

AC Milan are going to be ramping up the activity on their Google Plus account next week by hosting their first Hangout with former player, now PR man, Daniele Massaro.  The hangout will take place on Monday 15th October at 4pm (UK).

For those of you who may not be familiar with Daniele, here is a quick player biog.  He played for Milan between 1986 and 1995 winning 4 league titles. 2 Champions Leagues and 2 Cup Winners Cups.  Not a bad haul!  During this period the team were known as ‘Gli Invicibili’ (The Invincibles) as they went through their most successful period, even managing to go through the whole 1991/92 league season unbeaten.

That team was one of my favourites back in a time where you could watch live Serie A matches every Sunday on Channel 4 (do you remember Gazzetta Football Italia?).  The AC team had legends such as Marco van Basten, Franco Baresi, Ruud Gullit, Demetrio Albertini, Frank Rijkaard and Zvonomir Boban playing and were managed by firstly Arrigo Sacchi (who left to coach Italy) and then Fabio Capello.

They are not the first club to host a hangout on G+ as both Manchester City and Chelsea have done similar with Patrick Vieira and Petr Cech.  It is a feature that Google has pushed a lot over the last year or so with David Beckham and Barack Obama making appearances.

The AC Milan Google+ page has been up and running for a while and has a respectable 179,000 fans.  We’ll have to see how many tune in as the viewership can be notoriously low.  The Petr Cech hangout maxed out at around 700 viewers.  Very small considering the size of the clubs social presence (over 2m fans just on G+).  Hopefully this one will fair a little better.

Uniquely for a an event like this, I’ve been invited to be one of the 9 who will be asking questions during the live session!  So if you have a question you would like to ask Daniele then either add it into the comments below or get in touch at @UKSportsNetwork.

It will also be broadcast live on YouTube so make sure you tune in!  Here’s a video below promoting the event from the club…

YouTube Preview Image

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Show your #Support and Get Involved @VauxhallEngland

Vauxhall, the England team sponsor, is encouraging fans to show their #support and get involved via their dedicated England football twitter account, @VauxhallEngland.

Throughout the England Under 21 fixture against Serbia and England versus San Marino game at Wembley on Friday night England fans will be encouraged to join in the debate and show their support for the national team by voicing their opinions on the game in real time on twitter.

From score predictions to thoughts on who has performed well during the game the fans will have the opportunity to have their opinion heard by using the hashtag #support and tweeting @VauxhallEngland.

Simon Culley, Home Nations Marketing Manager at Vauxhall, said; “We are really excited about the social media engagement campaign during the game against San Marino.

“Vauxhall’s  social media strategy is focussed on engagement with the fans through our various platforms but this is the first time we have included some of our match day inventory to support the programme.

“For example we will be using the Vauxhall pitch side LED space to prompt the audience to get involved and show their support with various themes during the game.”

Vauxhall launched their football Social Media programme less than a year ago and now have over 60 thousand followers across the Home Nations.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Local Language Posting

The Do’s and Don’ts of Local Language Posting

An area within social which is taking up more conversations is how sports clubs, and even players, should be communicating with their fans using different languages.  This is something that came up in the #smsportschat (which is worth keeping an eye on) as the Miami Hurricanes have a Spanish Twitter account.

In Europe this is more of a pressing issue than in most, not only with the proliferation of languages on the continent itself but also with the bigger clubs looking to connect with fans in Asia and South America.  One of the reasons it came to my mind was in seeing the different ways clubs operate on Facebook.

For example, AC Milan and Barcelona post in both their native language and in English on almost every post.  Thus they hit the majority of their targeted audience within one post without spamming people or making the page look confusing.

This can’t be said to be true when looking at both Man Utd and Chelsea.  It could just have been that the other day was a bad day on the posting front but suddenly there were a multitude of posts in different languages which had been posted globally.

To me as a fan it looked messy.  From a professional perspective we work on how it is best to contact different people on our pages.  Shjould you just post globally or should it be done on a local level within that country?

Facebook gives you the means to publish posts by country, which you can select either one or any multiple, or even by city (which is sometimes useful for specific events or ticket offers).  But you can also post by language which means you would be posting to all fans who have made that language their one of choice.

The one thing it doesn’t allow unfortunately, and hopefully this will change, is to select who it does not go to.  So for example if you wanted to publish a post to everyone in the world except your Japanese followers as you want to post to them in their own language.  Currently you would have to go through an select all of the countries except Japan, which is a bit of a pain to do lets be honest.

So what is the right way?

For my point of view you either work on a localising level if you have a number of countries or languages you want to communicate to or you post globally in one or two languages which are your main focus.  The method of putting out half a dozen posts in different languages in different global posts will eventually drive people away from your page.  That’s not something which will sit well with those controlling the  resources you need.

For FC Barcelona’s Head of Business Intelligance, Pasi Lankinen, it is quite clear as to their aims;
“nurturing our community in the social networks is definitely a driver. The main risk is to ware them out.  The posts are in Catalan, Spanish and English, originally following the three languages, which the club has developed for the website.
There was some discussion originally as to what principle to follow, and the communication department was concerned that the posts would become very long having to write in several languages.  However, the decision was made easier after we had clear what the objective is.
We would like to drive traffic to our website, so the content is driven by the news pieces in the website, therefore the body of the news is in a link. The text in the post has an objective of being a headline and an introduction at most. This makes it easier and this combined by the fact that:
- we wanted to have minimum management and make it simple
- not getting into spamming and repetitions
 
Actually the decision to separate the twitter accounts into 3 accounts based on the same languages came out of the impossibility of including three languages in a tweet.
 
Independently, we do make segmented posts and only in the specific language of the segment. For example, there are posts targetted at catalan fans, which are in Catalan and Spanish only.”

The success of their strategy is there for all to see.  They have a very engaged Facebook page which has over 35m fans.  On Twitter they have 3 accounts; @FCBarcelona is the 3rd biggest sports account in the world with over 6.9m fans.  They also have @FCBarcelona_Es (3.2m) and @FCBarcelona_Cat (2.3m) appearing in the top 40 (source: Social Bakers).

As Pasi has said, on Twitter it has been easier to set up different accounts that concentrate on different languages.  This allows the main account to focus on the a more global strategy, provide great content and extend their follower base.

For the bigger clubs and leagues this is something that they have to decide upon as the emerging markets are the ones they are all targeting (South America and Asia).  The technology will change and hopefully make it easier to do so but it is not going to happen overnight.

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Timo Glock, Marussia F1 and Social Media

Timo Glock, Marussia F1 and Social Media

A couple of weeks ago I was kindly invited to the HQ of one of Formula 1’s newest teams, the Russian owned Marussia F1.

They are based in Bunbury, near Oxford and have built up a team from scratch in a very short period of time.  They first found out they had been one of the 3 successful applicants in June 2009 and had less than 8 months to put a car onto the grid in time for the Bahrain GP at the start of the 2010 season.

They now have a staff of around 180 with the aim to grow it to nearer the 250 mark.  In terms of where they are against their rivals at the top of the table, they are nowhere near!

The reason for our visit was to ask questions to the team and one of their sponsors, Monster Jobs.  They partnered up after the team of 1, as it was then and is now 3, in the HR department who needed help in filling some of the more specific roles.

Katie Allen is in charge of bringing in the right people to the team.  Social Media has been something they have discussed a lot internally, especially this year, on how to best use it.

Currently it is seen as something for the fans rather than recruitment, which takes place through the website.  One thing they have done is work with Monster on bringing a jobs board onto their Facebook page.  It may not be a large page in terms of numbers but the idea is that then others within the company or industry can share the posts amongst their friends.  Chances are these friends are in the industry or a similar one and they may get some good leads from this.

One of the keys in getting the right staff has been to show what is unique about the team and how grounded they are.  The term ‘family’ is one used by all involved when talking about the team.  They have achieved this by video content and this has helped in giving candidates an idea as to what to expect from the team and is seeded out to sites (like UKSN) when there is something relevant.

We covered their search for a ‘Social Media Driver’ ahead of the British GP.  This has been replicated around the world with the initiative bringing fans into the heart of the experience of F1, giving them access they could never have dreamed of.

So far these videos have been viewed over 250k times and resulted in a huge number of people applying for positions.

YouTube Preview Image

Katie said “The branding work we’ve done with Monster has definitely caused a stir in the industry.  And, in addition to hearing positive feedback from the candidates we meet, we have also seen excitement amongst our current team members which has been an unexpected benefit.”

We then had the opportunity to speak with the team President and Sports Director, Graham Lowden.    For him Social Media has been at the heart of  bringing fans (and potential employees) closer to the team and developing the brand.

At the start, which they are still close to, it has been about building up a team from scratch with the emphasis being on the main logistics of getting a car onto the F1 start grid.

It has been Geoff Collins who really pushed the team to be involved with social as part of the development from an early stage.  They realise it is hugely important but at the same time presents significant challenges.  As an industry, F1 doesn’t do enough thinking together on what they can do better in things like social and he feels they should do it more.

There are a number of Marussia F1 senior staff on Twitter and Graham himself (although not on Twitter himself) used to tweet from the pitwall during race weekends.  Giving fans a valuable insight into what goes on and how the team are progressing.

Recently he admits they have become so busy with race weekends’ being so close together, that it has slipped.  But they plan to do more again soon.

We also had chance to speak to F1 veteran Timo Glock.  He has driven for Jordan, Toyota, Virgin and now Marussia.  He helps develop the team from a car performance point of view as well as getting results on the track to boost the team in F1.  The weekend before we spoke, Timo had produced a best ever finish for the team by cfinishing 12th in Singapore.

You can see more of what he had to say in the video below but there were a couple of questions that avoided the camera.

One question I was keen to ask was on his tweets about making food.  A couple of years ago we wrote about his link up with an F1 site that brought together his love of food and Twitter.  Fans were asked to help choose what he cooked and then got to see the results.

This started off as a bit of fun but once it was getting more coverage this became lost for Timo.  It took away from what he did as a driver and became a bit of a joke that he just spent his time cooking and not driving.  This is why he stopped doing it.

Now watch the video below to hear more about his thoughts on Twitter, Facebook and engaging with fans…

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Thanks to Marussia for being great hosts and to Monster Jobs / 3 Monkeys for setting the day up and inviting us along.  We’ll be keeping an eye out for the teams results from here on in for sure.

Here are some pics from the day;

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Should Sports Stars Use Twitter?

Should Sports Stars Use Twitter?

Guest Post by Alex Morris.  Alex follows F1, Rallying, football and cricket. And, to his surprise, enjoyed the Olympics! By day is the Social Media Manager at Manchester based company, Cartridge Save.

 

2012 has been a busy year for Twitter; the London Olympics saw an unprecedented amount of Tweets and, in amongst all the big names Tweeting, controversy has kept the social media tool in the news. It’s questionable whether sports men and women should post Tweets at all; they’re athletes and prone to making decisions in the heat of the moment. There have been consistent examples in 2012 of Tweets being published without any forward thinking. It leads to the consideration of whether managers should remove their young chargers from the world of social media. To consider this, here’s a look at some of this year’s calamities.

 

The Olympics

Presided over by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (thankfully there is an abbreviation for this – LOCOG), the committee made it clear there would be strict rules for athletes using the social media format. With some 10,500 competitors to keep an eye on this was going to be some task for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to manage and, sure enough, Rule 40 (“no competitor, coach, trainer or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes except as permitted by the IOC Executive Board.”) immediately caused controversy. In defiance, Hurdler Dawn Harper posted pictures of herself gagged with a “Rule 40” strip on Twitter. This quickly escalated into a full protest, which forced the International Olympic Committee to step in and demand control of the situation.

Although the IOC encouraged Tweeting, they made it abundantly clear it would be strictly monitored; “Postings, blogs and tweets should at all times conform to the Olympic spirit and fundamental principles of Olympism as contained in the Olympic Charter, be dignified and in good taste, and not contain vulgar or obscene words or images.” Before the Games even began Greek Triple Jumper Paraskevi “Voula” Papachristou posted racist comments targeting Africans living in Greece (“With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”), and also retweeted a far-right politicians’ comment criticising immigration. She went on to apologise on Twitter, but she was still banned. This was followed by Swiss footballer Michel Morganella who Tweeted a disappointed post after losing 2-1 to South Korea. Translated into English it read “I want to beat up all South Koreans!” before accusing them of being mentally handicapped. There were immediate calls for the 23 year old to be banned.

On a lighter note, the BBC’s Denise Lewis, a former athlete, was mocked for her continuous misuse of “literally”. Many Twitter users found this mistake highly annoying; at one stage Lewis claimed, “Jess Ennis’s entrance will literally blow the roof off the stadium.” Inadvertently she caused a flood of spoof responses.

 

Football

The most high profile embarrassment this year came with Ashley Cole’s verbal assault on the FA in early October. Following the unfortunate, and embarrassing, John Terry racism conviction, Cole posted a profane Tweet mocking the FA. Gary Lineker was one of the many who followed up this remark with a Tweet suggesting Cole apologise to the FA; others suggested he had put his career on the line. Eventually he did express his regret (through his solicitor), however, Cole wasn’t finished there! Having flirted with disaster once he followed this up with a highly public row with Alan Shearer regarding the England line-up. This resulted in Cole criticising the former England captain; “Alan Shearer says @TheRealAC3 needs to be banned for comments. I want his opinion on bans for kicking Neil Lennon in the head. #GlassHouses”. A further scan down his account shows his attitude towards fans; “Lol, jokers, don’t boo me then get angry because I tweet, its all fun so #takeachilpill”. With Cole it seems to be a case of controlling his outspoken nature, especially as Chelsea’s manager, Roberto Di Matteo, confirmed the left back would face punishment by his club; “We’ve got a social media policy [here] and there’s going to be a disciplinary process – action – against the tweet.”

Cole has now been charged by the FA with Misconduct and has until 16:00 on Thursday 11th October to respond.  ITV has run with ‘Top 10 footballers who got Twitter wrong‘ which makes interesting reading.

 

Formula One

Most of the F1 drivers on Twitter are well behaved. One driver stands out. Lewis Hamilton continuously lands himself in trouble with his trigger happy Tweet button. In August he dismayed his McLaren team when he, in a fit of frustration, posted pictures of his rear wing and qualifying telemetry onto his Twitter account. He quickly removed the posts and apologise.

In early October he made another blunder following a disappointing Japanese Grand Prix. After the announcement of his defection to the Mercedes team for 2013 he, for reasons best kept to himself, believed team-mate Jenson Button had snubbed him on Twitter, “Just noticed @jensonbutton unfollowed, thats a shame. After 3 years as teammates, I thought we respected one another but clearly he doesn’t.” An hour later he realised what was actually going on, “My bad, just found out Jenson never followed me. Don’t blame him! Need to be on Twitter more.” Unfortunately he’s making these blunders before his 1.1 million followers and the world’s media. Perhaps it’s time he got a press officer.

 

Verdict

For casual observers and fans these antics can often be hilarious and a true illumination of our heroes and heroines. For the organisers, team owners and managers they can be a nightmare, whilst for competitors they can be career ending. What is clear is how it is only a few individuals who are using the platform for a means to express offensive views; others are simply not thinking about team spirit when they launch their latest Tweet. Perhaps soon it will be mandatory for the world’s top sports stars to have Tweets approved by press officers – until they can prove they’re capable of behaving themselves it would appear to be the best solution!

 

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