The transfer window has become known as a period in which football clubs trade players for ludicrous amounts of money in a bid to improve their squad for the season ahead of them, but the big reveal of a new signing can be somewhat of an anticlimax.
The challenge in coordinating and executing successful sports marketing social media campaigns around a football signing is that it takes forethought and planning. If done right, an effective campaign could make the difference with not only the fans but also with sponsors and potential partners.
The 2017 Summer window is set to be yet another record-breaking period with big money moves popping up on an almost daily basis. With all the money that football clubs spend on players, you’d expect them to invest in how they communicate these announcements to their fans, and to our pleasing, in this window they have.
The start of a trend
Paul Pogba’s return to Manchester United triggered a trend for football clubs, accompanying the announcement of their latest recruit with its own social media campaign. Just take a look at the #Pogback hashtag, it was the most talked about topic on social media for weeks, creating a unique opportunity for Manchester United and adidas to showcase both their prime asset and their new kit to the world.
There are multiple challenges involved in delivering a successful social media campaign around a new signing, but one key component is that of a marketing budget. When executed well, a social media campaign could make the difference not only with fans but the added exposure is equally attractive for sponsors and partners.
Social media provides direct communication lines between rights holders and their fans. It gives fans a voice to express their opinion, an opportunity for the fans to engage with a club they follow religiously and a route for the clubs to distribute crucial information to the masses, faster than any other media platform.
They were clever enough to tap into the hot conversation and utilise the player himself in a way that fans craved.
Fans of Liverpool had been dealing with ‘Mohamed Salah rumours’ for weeks. So when the time came, the club used the anticipation to their advantage. Liverpool announced the signing by publishing a video of Salah in first person mode, scrolling through tweets of fans begging them to announce him. Credit to Liverpool’s marketing and production teams, they produced a piece of content announcing the reveal in the most suitable format to go viral. They were clever enough to tap into the hot conversation, utilise the player himself in a way that fans craved and then simply dropped the content into the pool of noise and set the world alight.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 22, 2017
Another excellent example of player announcements on social media comes from Liverpool’s neighbours, Everton. The club did a very nice job of teasing fans with short-form videos before revealing their new signings, Davy Klassen and Sandro Ramirez. Everton were also one of the first football clubs to make use of the new Facebook Cover Video feature, showcasing their latest signing Michael Keane with the functionality.
👀 | Ready for another signing? Well, here you go… pic.twitter.com/IDsIPV7I1S
— Everton (@Everton) June 15, 2017
👀 | It's that time again… pic.twitter.com/DlrGSc2MJW
— Everton (@Everton) July 3, 2017
The WhatsApp reveal is a clever way to connect with a younger audience used to using Messenger apps and show them that Aston Villa are a club that understands it’s younger fans.
Aston Villa capitalised on the buzz that John Terry was close to signing for the club and were quick produce a very clever video of what appears to be a WhatsApp conversation between the club’s owner, manager, a handful of players and Terry himself. Of course this isn’t a real conversation, but the design and execution is class. Tapping into a format used largely to create humour with parody content, the WhatApp reveal is a clever way to connect with a younger audience used to using Messenger apps and show them that Aston Villa are a club that understands it’s younger fans.
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) July 3, 2017
Known for being a market leader in digital communication, this was a content reveal that Julius Caesar himself would’ve been proud of.
These are just some of the ways that leading football clubs have been revealing their new signings, but the approaches that can be used in today’s world are endless. One truly exceptional execution, one that we’ve never seen before was by the formidable AS Roma, who revealed Lorenzo Pellegrini with a video of him scoring a goal as himself on FIFA 17. Genius. Known for being a market leader in digital communication, this was a content reveal that Julius Caesar himself would’ve been proud of.
— AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) June 30, 2017
Like As Roma, Southampton are another club making excellent strides in fan engagement. With one of their announcements, the club went down the Snapchat route, utilising a pair of Snapchat Spectacles to give a mini first-person view from the eyes of their newest recruit. They tapped into the desires of the fans, knowing that being in the shoes of a Premier League footballer is something few of us will ever experience. So their first person account of the signing process was excellent and joins our list of the best reveals this Summer.
The moment you become a #SaintsFC player! 😎
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) July 1, 2017
It has become somewhat of a laborious task watching and reading the same stories on repeat on Sky Sports News day-in day-out, waiting and hoping to get a glimpse of Jim White and that infamous yellow tie.
Clubs do need to make the extra effort when it comes to fan engagement, especially when these big temple moments present themselves. The transfer window is a period that all football fans (in the top leagues anyway) really get excited about. It’s up to the clubs to take all this into account, because fan attention is really the only currency in today’s hyperconnected digital market. It’s the currency that brands want to buy and the reasons why they pay such large sums for partnership deals.
The clubs have our attention and when they’re not complacent with it, they can become what can only be described as fantastic storytellers and creators. As social media and the art of communication continues to evolve, all that we hope is that the clubs that we so passionately follow continue to innovate and produce awesome spot moments that we’ll remember for years to come.