Manchester United launch official Facebook Page

As a Manchester United fan of 25 years (I can hear the boo’s already!) and social media fanatic I have been looking forward to when United entered the arena in a big way, possibly in 2011.

To my suprise, this week the club quietly entered the social media fold by launching a Facebook Fan Page (www.facebook.com/manutd), just as I had been writing about their lack of presence.  So when I found out I was excited to find out how they have grasped social media and intend to enagage with the huge global fanbase.

If you look on the Manchester United website there is a huge amount of content with Tour blogs, MUTV footgage, webchat’s, message board and games.  On top of this there are all of the commercial enterprises from which the club makes many millions of £ with merchandise, mobile, playing kits, finance, betting, etc, etc. 

This has been the primary goal and the reason why they have not entered social media up to now.  Why would they drive traffic away from their main online income generator – this is the line that has been taken up to now.  If you believe the press recieved when the club pulled the players off Facebook and Twitter, they were seen as being totally anti-social media.

So why now and why Facebook.  My hope has been that it was part of a clever integrated strategy to bring traffic from around the world with the club website being the hub of activity.  Ok so I have been proved wrong on all counts. United look like they have gone into as many others have…. because everyone else is!

The why now is answered by what time of year we are at.  The season starts in a few weeks  and the team have launched a new kit and have the pre-season tour. United have also seen the 500m+ people on Facebook (answers the why Facebook) and decided to use this because thats where the eyeballs are. 

They have gone from 0 to 834,000 ‘likes’ in 4 days, proving the power of the brand around the world and that the fans are there.  The landing page is a really slick looking advert for us to buy the new kit and has tabs for ‘events’ and ‘Tour 2010’ to advertise the current tour of Canada and the United States. 

On closer inspection to the updates being given by the club they are just stories and footage from the website.  Nothing new is given that you wouldnt get on the website and not particulary engaging.  Each update posted is followed by around 700 ‘likes’ and 100 comments.

It is hard to see what the objective is apart from use the channel as another marketing tool to sell shirts and tickets by putting flash pictures on pages.  After listening to Matt Owen from Liverpool talking about their social media experience over the last year or so there is no comparison. 

Liverpool are all about engagement, replying, providing content and being honest/helpful and others are starting to follow suit with Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal all very active on Facebook and to a lesser extent Twitter.  Spurs have also launched on both platforms just before the new season starts as social media becomes the new ‘must have’ amongst sports teams.

My hope is that United and all the other sports teams use social media as a genuine form of engagement with their thousands (and sometimes millions) of fans around the world not just regurgitate the news stories and press releases that we find on the website.  If they do this then they will see the full benefits of the platforms on offer and prove to the other businesses within the club that it is more than a PR/branding exercise.

Do you agree?  Love to hear your thoughts on United’s entry into social media and other clubs too…..

About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 820 posts

Dan is the Founder & CEO of Digital Sport. Can be found at sports industry events and heard every week on the Digital Sport Insider podcast. @DanielMcLaren

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