In the two years since I posted my first blog on this website, I’ve often given my opinion both here and on Twitter about how I think clubs should promote their women’s teams. Not always with much success, and definitely not always based on scientific research, but almost without exception with a lot of response from the online world of women’s football. That’s why I’ve recently spent some time compiling a list of tips for clubs that have steps to take when it comes to the online promotion of their women’s team. The list is far from complete, and filled with my own opinions and preferences, but I hope that doesn’t make it less worth the read. And if you know a club that can use some encouragement in terms of online promotion, don’t hesitate to send them this blog, as a not-so-subtle hint!
A crash course
It might be good to start by looking at why exactly social media is so crucial in the promotion of women’s teams. It all starts with one simple concept: fan loyalty. Case in point; American star player Alex Morgan currently has 3,5 million followers on Twitter. Is that in part because of her looks? Probably. But also because the American federation has been promoting their female players for over seven years (see video below). Unfortunately, I can’t support my claim with hard numbers (yet), but I’ve always been convinced that the first step to sold out stadiums at women’s matches has to be taken on the internet. Make (potential) fans care about the players, not just inside but also outside the white lines, and odds are they’re going to consider buying a ticket when their favourite player’s team is in town.
In contrast to what most clubs appear to think, creating multimedia content doesn’t have to be expensive per se. Look at the video above. Give a few kids in media college an afternoon and $50 each, and you have yourself a video. You can make it as cheap or expensive as you want. Match highlights, interviews with players and staff, a look behind the scenes during a strength training: it’s simple things like these people like to see.
Another thing to consider is how a club uses its social media to show how they view their men’s and women’s teams. A great example of this is Manchester City. Last month they launched the campaign ‘Same City, Same Passion’ with a wonderful video, in which they plead to do away with the differentiation between ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ football. And City doesn’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. Match highlights and game reports of the women’s team are posted on their ‘regular’ Facebook page, for all their 31 million fans to see, and not only posted on a page for the women. The difference is in the details.
Some other ideas for social media content: quizzes in which people can win match tickets or items signed by players, Q&As where fans can ask questions, updates on games with starting 11s, photos and scorelines, and news on incoming or outgoing transfers. Make sure your updates are professional, consistent and relevant. Will clubs have to invest time, money and effort into writing down a solid social media strategy? Absolutely. Does it have to cost huge amounts of money? Definitely not. Start small and simple, and analyse what works and what doesn’t. If you keep going long enough, fan loyalty will follow.
With the incredible success of the Dutch women’s national team, the ‘Orange Lionesses’, the popularity of the team has increased explosively. The upcoming World Cup qualifier, in which Northern Ireland will be the opponent on April 6th, will take place at the Philips Stadium, which will be the biggest venue ever to host the Dutch team with 35,000 seats. Six hours after the ticket sale kicked off yesterday, 10,000 of those seats were already taken. Unfortunately, selling tickets is not that easy for every women’s team. For those teams, social media can play a vital role.
Online promotion is not the only, eternal, perfect solution to the problem. But it is a relatively easy and cheap way for clubs to step by step fill their stadiums. And it’s never too late to start.
Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂
PS: As I said before, this blog is far from supported by scientific evidence, and it undoubtedly features claims that are simply not true. I’m open to all feedback, even if it proves my point completely wrong. And if there are any clubs that are unsure how to start using social media, I’m far from a guru on the subject but I’ve been hanging around in the online world of women’s football for quite a few years, and definitely have some strong opinions on it. You may always give me a call! 😉