In a time where the digital landscape is changing on an almost daily basis, it’s interesting to hear more details on the plans of one of the ‘big’ clubs. But it’s not just Liverpool who have been busy this summer. Manchester United have really kicked on and Manchester City aren’t far behind.
The push by all these clubs highlights the importance of becoming an international ‘brand’ and commercialising these opportunities. Yesterday Ian Eyre, Liverpool’s Managing Director, outlined the clubs long-term strategic plan to grow it’s digital platforms. They want to do this by offering global fans more interactive and intuitive ways to engage with the club.
At The Nolan Partners Sport Industry Breakfast Club, Ayre said:
“Liverpool FC is a Premier League pioneer for innovation, brand development and international fan engagement. Central to our international brand strategy is the club’s revolutionised digital output, which is interactive, inclusive and localised to individual territories – delivering content which is tailored to specific markets and accessible in local languages.”
Manchester City earlier this summer made the announcement that they were expanding their global online presence through the launch of 10 new international websites. They already had the English, Arabic and Chinese Mandarin, so this new initiative opened the club up to fans speaking Traditional Chinese, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai. Now they have gone one step further by launched 10 new Twitter accounts in the same languages as the earlier website additions.
Diego Gigliani, Manchester City director of marketing, media and fan development, said:
“Twitter has played an integral part in the club’s online growth in recent years, providing the club and its players with a unique channel through which to interact with fans in creative and innovative ways. We will continue to explore the wealth of opportunities that social networks like Twitter offer.”
Manchester United, who already have a significant web presence across the world, have been concentrating on their new love affair with social media. Until earlier this year the only touch points that the club had on social networks were with Facebook and their club’s official press account on Twitter. Since then they have launched a main club account on Twitter, which has already passed 1m followers in less than 3 months, as well as accounts on Instagram, Google Plus, Sine Weibo and Renren.
Earlier this week the club announced that their international Twitter presence was expanding. Following the leads of the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool and others by taking their message out with language specific accounts. The clubs official statement announced that;
The club can now connect with 63 million more fans in Asia thanks to pages in Indonesian(@ManUtd_ID) and Malay (@ManUtd_ MY), as well as over 54 million fans across the Spanish-speaking world via a Spanish page (@ManUtd_ES).
So back to Liverpool.
They have always prided themselves on being internationally followed and loved, and for leading the way in which Premier League clubs should be going about it. Language specific accounts are nothing new to them and at the start of 2013 long time Head of Content Paul Rogers took on the role of Head of International Digital Development. Highlighted how seriously they are taking this expansion.
As of August 2013, Liverpool had more followers on social platforms in China than from any other country. This was then boosted by the news that they launched an official Weixin (WeChat) account on the first day of this new season. This service provides fans with a mix of audio messages in English and Chinese from players including captain Steven Gerrard.
The club now have 34 official social media accounts (that’s a lot of community management!), including 17 international Twitter profiles – 12 of which are language specific and 5 of which are country specific. Not to mention their presence on Russian site VK.com and five international Facebook pages.
“We are one of the best known football clubs globally and it is a great source of pride that our fans come from all areas of the world. Liverpool FC wants to show its commitment to bringing the club closer to our fans, whatever age they are, wherever they may live. They are the foundation of Liverpool FC and we need to engage with them by embracing new technology and creating appealing and exciting digital content.
Extending the Liverpool FC brand beyond borders and connecting with our 200 million global fans also makes good commercial sense for the club and will help us achieve a competitive advantage on and off the field. We can create added value for our corporate partners and maximise the international commercial opportunities that benefit everyone at the club, including the players, coaching staff and the global community of fans across the world.”
This is a massive investment by the club as they carry on their belief that engaging with fans on a global level is the best way to increase brand awareness and deliver commercial deals in those areas. Most of the other ‘big’ clubs around the world are waking up to it and we can this by the sheer number of new sponsorship deals Manchester United have signed this year alone. With the expansion on social platforms into these areas, deals like that will only increase in both regularity and size.
Official LFC local language Twitter accounts
Official LFC international Twitter accounts