Chris Stearns

Manchester City Continue to Lead Way for EPL Digital

Manchester City have had a strong digital presence for many seasons now and ahead of the 2016-17 English Premier League starting in just over a month, we wanted to highlight some ways they’re continuing to be a front-runner in using digital and social media to connect with fans all over the globe.

As the sixth most valuable club in the world, according to the 2016 Forbes rankings of “The World’s Most Valuable Clubs” with a net worth of $1.92 billion, the club is one of the most-recognizable in the world. Featuring superstar Sergio Aguero, having hired Pep Guardiola to lead the team starting with the upcoming season, winners of two of the last five EPL titles, and winners of the 2015-16 League Cup, while advancing further than they ever have in the UEFA Champions League (where they lost a semifinal matchup to eventual champion Real Madrid), high profile is an understatement.

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With their successes over the recent seasons, they have grown a huge following on social media. With more than 21 million Facebook fans, 3.37 million Twitter followers, 3.2 million Instagram followers, and 84 million loops on Vine , the team is a social media powerhouse. Beyond the standard social media channels, they are willing to experiment with the latest technology in order to give fans better access to the club and place the club where their fans are.

Here’s a quick rundown of how Manchester City is leveraging digital media ahead of the 2016-17 season to make the fan experience that much stronger.

Taking Advantage of Emerging Technology

The world of digital media evolve at a rapid pace, which leads teams and brands in a unique position. How quickly do you jump in? How much time, money, and resources do you devote to it? Just because it’s cool and new, does it add value to our fans and our partners? Does it strengthen the fan relationship?

Well, Manchester City is taking a bunch of the latest trends and testing them out. In a one-off activation, they gave fans the ability to watch a live match in virtual reality. They released a SmartWatch app for Android back in February.

Most recently, they’ve launched a Facebook Messenger Bot. This is on top of being the first English Premier League team to launch a WhatsApp account. Bots allow users to opt-in to a team feed, which will then send fans a direct message with information on the team. Currently, Pep Talk, Transfer News, and Social Buzz  are available “feeds” for fans to subscribe to  and they’re promising Match Highlights and Matchday Content as well. Additionally, club-related wallpapers, exclusive photos, behind-the-scenes videos, and “more” will become available for fans. With so much buzz for the team going into the season, combined with their robust Facebook following, we’re eager to see how this takes off. Other teams are as well we can imagine.


Embrace eSports

The eSports world has exploded in 2016 and there’s no sign of it letting up. ESPN is investing in it. So much so, they’re showcasing 17 hours of eSports on their channels on July 17th.

West Ham actually beat Man City to the punch when they signed a eSports player back in May. Not to be outdone, City just signed 18-year-old Kieran “Kez” Brown, as their first eSports player.

In addition to Kez reppin’ the club at competitions, which will increase the club’s presence and reputation and events. He’ll create his own content – livestreaming on Twitch and creating video for Man City’s official YouTube channel – as a way to extend their partnership beyond the physical gaming competitions.



Building a Deeper Connection with Fans

Fan mosaics might not be a new feature for teams or brands, but they’re a nice piece of content which helps deepen a fan relationship.

With Manchester City debuting a new – and dramatically different – team badge for this season, they asked fans to hashtag their photos across social media with #CityBadge to be included in the mosaic. Prizes were offered as an extra incentive to get fans to share and are typically an easy way to register additional excitement and increase fan entries.

As the popular saying goes, “football without fans is nothing” and Man City knows that they have to keep engaging fans both online and off.






Categories: Digital Content, EPL, Soccer Marketing, Social Media, Technology