With the dire state it has been in since the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal of the mid 2000s, Italian football has not had much to shout about. As businesses judged by revenue, assets and on-field success, the clubs and league as a whole have fallen notably behind Europe’s other major footballing nations, England, Spain and Germany. Not so on social media.
It is a pleasant surprise that current Serie A champions Juventus have proven this summer that they can be market leaders for building fan engagement on social media.
With 1.3 million followers on Twitter Juventus lead the way in Serie A for fan followings, currently dwarfing rivals such as Inter Milan (644k) and Roma (490k) on the platform.
From Q&As with the coaching staff to finding value in engaging with celebrity fans, Juventus have been at the forefront of fan engagement, even displaying tweets from around the world inside the stadium (see photo below) and coming up with original digital strategies. Here we will look at two examples of the latter.
With the club having some of the most passionate fans in the world, Juventus focused on encouraging user-generated content that would be sharable. They did this by calling on supporters to design their own fan choreography for a stand in the Juventus Stadium and upload it via a Facebook application. The club offered the winner a chance to see their design become a reality ahead of a huge game between Juve and Inter, a rivalry so intense their games are dubbed ‘The Derby d’Italia’.
What was so effective about this concept was its ability to transfer online support to support in the ground; this was done by virtue of the fact that the winning design (drawn by a 16 year old supporter) would be created by 25,000 Juventus fans at the stadium and be witnessed by both the players on the pitch and the club’s global fanbase watching broadcasts of the game.
In terms of engagement with the Facebook application of this was a major success, garnering 3,122 submitted designs, over 4,500 sign-ups and over 290,000 interactions.
Another unique part of the digital strategy of Juventus is creating competitions and hashtags based entirely around players. Choosing perhaps their most globally appreciated star Andrea Pirlo, the club posted a video in a Britain’s Got Talent style challenging supporters to send in their own attempts to impress the midfield maestro with the hashtag #Pirloisnotimpressed, thereby engaging with the club online.
To date after only 5 days this hashtag has had a reach of 2.5 million and been delivered into 7.3 million timelines (via Hashtracking.com). In terms of exposure it is another major success.
Now that Juventus have had proven success with these strategies, it remains to be seen how long before clubs in England follow suite. Will we see Liverpool FC for example, now with a player as universally popular across social media like Mario Balotelli, go down a similar path in their social media strategy?
We may soon see clubs developing ideas such as the fan-designed choreography and utilising them as opportunities to not only generate engagement across social media but to also transmit that into upping stadium atmospheres via fan mosaics and other such interactive crowd events in major games. The social effecting the reality.
As far as we’re concerned here at We Play, the Old Lady of Italian football has shown she is still ‘with it’ in the social media age and has helped raise the bar for fan engagement. This is absolutely the right direction that sports brands need to be exploring.
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