Football League partners with ScribbleLive to launch club social media ‘Walls’

The Football League has been working furiously behind the scenes since the hire of experienced Digital Director Russell Scott in the summer of last year.  As football clubs have started embracing social media it has become more important than ever for the governing body to take a lead in the space.

One of the most prominent, and visual, changes to be made recently has been the launch on 25 club websites of the new ‘Wall’ feature.  This has come about through the choosing of ScribbleLive as a partner to deliver an innovative new solution that can be spread eventually across all 90 FLi clubs.

We spoke with Russell to get his thoughts on the new partnership and the Football League’s digital plans going forward…

There are a number of tech companies starting offer content aggregation solution, so why choose ScribbleLive?  Russell was clear that, through testing and getting feedback from colleagues, it was the moist robust and most user friendly with an intuitive interface.  Also their history in working with the likes of CNN, ESPN, Reuters and on Barak Obama’s presidential campaign helped.  Proving it can handle large volumes of content and traffic was one of the winners for FLi.

It’s an interesting time with an emphasis on storytelling, leading to content aggregation solutions becoming one of the growth areas in the digital industry in 2014.  Sport is especially suited as it revolves around live events with huge amounts of content already being produced.  With so many platforms being used (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, SnapChat, etc) it makes sense that the next step is to bring them into one place, with the ideal being that it can be hosted on their own website.

When Russell came into the role at the Football League he quickly identified that the amount of time that fans were spending on club websites wasn’t what it should be.  On average they were only staying on the sites for 1m 20 secs!  A figure that suggests that content was being consumed by them in other places.

The main issue was the lack of new content for fans.  If you head to a club site and it’s updated a couple of times per day and generally with fairly standard club PR material, it doesn’t really feed what the fans are after.  They can get more from BBC, SkySports, local media and social media platforms.

So the Football League were drawn to the idea that they needed to change the mindset and provide a solution that allowed for the lighter social media content to be displayed and provide a reason for fans to go onto the club website or app.  Football is a 24/7 entertainment business now and the websites just weren’t reflecting this.

Magpie Wall ScribbleLive

Russell sets high standards, for example he uses Facebook as his benchmark for what could be possible.  Why?  The main reason for repeat visits is the frequency of content you receive from friends and pages on there.  It changes every time you visit.  So could club websites be more like this?

Clubs have access to content that no-one else can deliver with behind-the-scenes content.  That’s what fans want to get access to but it be hard to deliver without the resources of the bigger teams.  Part of what made Scribble appeal is that you can capture and upload content direct from your phone.  Thus making updates from the training ground so much easier and updated straight onto the website.

Initially 12 clubs signed up as ‘volunteers’ for the project, taking part in an 8 week period of training and learning.  Since then 25 clubs have started to use it including the likes of Birmingham City, Hereford, Bournemouth and Notts County.  So far the feedback has been positive.

Dane Vincent, Multimedia Editor at Notts County told me;

At Notts we’re big on social media and interacting with supporters on a daily basis, therefore we felt that Magpie Wall would help to feed all aspects of our media activities into one place.

Magpie Wall allows us to highlight tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos and YouTube videos, as well as feed our main news stories and updates from all areas of the club. Over time we are considering allowing other areas of the club, such as the ticketing, conference and banqueting, community, commercial and maybe even some of the players and staff, their own accounts so that the news and views can get out there as quickly as possible.

Overall, it’s proving to be a nice add-on to the homepage and another way to interact with our fans. The initial response has been good and we hope to see more and more of them commenting and adding to the experience of Magpie Wall in the coming weeks and months.

You can check out the ‘Magpie Wall‘ here to see what they have been up to.

One of the interesting points that Dane raises is the use of the wall by other members of staff within the club.  This helps in spreading the workload and giving different views of what is happening within the club.  I would imagine that staff would be first to take this up, letting fans know about ticketing, commercial opps, merchandise, etc.

The more delicate side would be bringing players on board.  There has been opposition to them having Twitter accounts, which many now do, from managers who want to see them concentrate on training and playing.  The aim for Russell is to get a couple of teams to test it out and give the Football League an opportunity then to use as a case study.

So what have been the initial results?

Thus far the dwell time has seen an increase from the mentioned 1min 20secs to a much more impressive 3mins 42secs.  It shows that fans are certainly spending more time on the sites which is great news for those clubs.  But is this the golden ticket for them?

The Football League can only offer training and best practice guidance.  It’s still up to the clubs how they use it, the types of content they use, whether they turn commenting on and who provides the content.  Those who see it purely as an advertising platform where they place irrelevant messages to make a few extra pounds may see limited success and a lack of uptake.

Those who look beyond the commercial side and also away from match coverage will do the best.  One of the most interesting pieces of information the FL has found out, but is not surprising, is that most clubs content is based around matches and takes place either on match day or during office hours.

If you’re not posting until at least 10am and nothing in the evenings then a massive opportunity is being missed.  Bournemouth are one of those that have changed their timings and started posting from 7am (yes, you can schedule updates) and seen an increase of mobile traffic between 7am and 9am.  The time when people check their phones for news/updates they may have missed.  The same in the evenings when people are watching TV or travelling home, having regular new content at those times on devices they use all the time will only see dwell times go one way.

The plan for the Football League and Russell now is to bring all teams onto the platform within the next 8-10 weeks.  The interest now will be the fan reaction and how this will shift the content plans for those that take part.

Thanks to Russell for taking the time out to share this information.  It sounds like there is much more to come too, so am sure more articles will be on their way as the year progresses.

Love to hear your thoughts on what the Football League are doing in digital and your experiences of using the new club walls.

 

About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 662 posts

Dan McLaren launched Digital Sport (formerly UK Sports Network) back in January 2010 and has worked in the digisport industry with adidas, We Are Social, Copa90 and Pulse amongst others. He's now a freelance social media guy living in the East Midlands and an early stage podcaster with #DigiSportChat on Audioboom

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