This home fixture against Hull City is what the club is calling its first “Social Media Match”.
You may have read about all of the events taking place that will utilise social media, the fans and players, bringing all together in a giant social cauldron. If you haven’t read about this experiential evening, then here’s the deal. West Ham will be using its Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram accounts to fully document the match, run competitions and include fans’ content.
In my eyes, it’s a great way to engage fans and narrow the gap between supporters and players. If you’re at the game, you will notice that during the warm up the players will have t-shirts with messages of support on. These messages have been sent by the fans via Twitter (although flicking through the messages,
I’m pretty sure most of them won’t make it!), and those fans who sent the winning words will receive the t-shirt signed by its wearing player. Nice way to give a little something back I think. Then if you flick through your match day programme, there should be a Mo Diame interview. All the questions have been sent by the fans.
Matt Taylor will have also documented his match day routine on his Twitter page, and one player (presumably an injured one!) will be sitting in the press box and tweeting during the game. There are many other ways that fans were invited to interact by sending pictures of the match and video recreations of their favourite moments of the season.
But one of my favourite events has to be the competition to meet Adrian San Miguel and win his gloves. If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve got a soft spot for Adrian and if I wasn’t living across the Irish Sea, I’d be scouring east London for his lost glove.
Adrian will have announced where he has left his glove on his Twitter page and then fans will go looking for it. The lucky winner meets the ‘keeper and gets to keep his gloves. That’s a winner. I like the idea of bringing fans into games if it’s done right. Cheesy is never good, but social media is made for this kind of thing. If you look at brands as a whole, they use their online channels for customer service and to give insights into the company. This is exactly what West Ham’s digital department is doing and I think it will catch on, especially among the younger fans.
In general, the club is good at social media. Of course, such events as this have to be monitored and it seems as though the right steps have been taken to ensure this is the case. If they’d have said that the first 20 messages of support would be broadcast live on the Upton Park screens, they’d have been in trouble. The Facebook page and Twitter feed for the club are both engaging and interesting. It’s not all sales pitches and I think fans appreciate that.
We also have a number of players that are good sports when it comes to social media such as Adrian and Andy Carroll. On the other hand, if you want an example of how not to appear like an approachable footballing hero, take a quick look at Ravel Morrison’s channels. I think maybe the problem with having a dedicated social media night is its ability to flop.
There’s an awful lot going on in one evening, and maybe every game should have one or two elements of interaction instead of the 12 on offer for the visit of Hull City. The online experience on a match day is growing. Thousands of fans take to Twitter every week to discuss and give instant reactions to matches. The Premier League has also launched an online platform this year in which instant statistics are available and post match videos and images are shared.
When you consider that some of the biggest sporting events turn out to be the biggest social media conversation starters, it’s a wonder that the Premier League and individual clubs are so behind. Manchester City actually have one of the best online features I have seen in the Premier League, and it’s their YouTube channel which broadcasts a ‘Tunnel cam’ for every home game.
It does what it says on the tin – a camera records every move pre-match, at half time and post-match from the tunnel. It’s a real insight into what goes on off the pitch, and that’s what we really want to see. I guess having a midweek fixture isn’t ideal for this scenario. A Saturday 3 o’clock fixture would generally be a better time for people to be sat on the sofa with a laptop and cup of tea, but if it catches on and the club works out what worked best, we could see a rise in competitions and interactive media. I’m all for it.
Let’s just hope the marketing department don’t get their hands on this and create the hashtag #FACupStarsOfHullCity.