Club Bruggeâs Conversation Manager: Facing the difficulties
Last week the following tweet appeared in my feed: â€œClub Brugge is looking for a conversation manager.â€ All kinds of emotions struck me. As a long time fan: joy and pride. As a new media consultant: excitement. As a combination of both: even more excitement. Would this be the first step that makes the rather conservative football world realize what great things they can achieve by using new media? Could this be the right moment?
Soon reality pulled me back. It was the moment I realized the enormous challenge a future conversation manager of Club Brugge would be facing.
On one hand it’s the greatest job on earth. On the other hand it’s the most difficult oneâ€¦
Now I hear you all thinking: â€œWhy? There are already some great conversation managers. And there are already examples of conversation managers who succeed in their objectives. Can’t be too difficult, can it?!â€
Well, you’re wrong. A very wise man told me once: “For those involved, no explanation is necessary. For those who aren’t involved, no explanation is possible.”
The ones who are involved with conversation management on a professional basis and got infected by the football fever, will understand what I’m saying. The rest, hmmmm, probably notâ€¦ Nevertheless I will try to explain why! Here’s five factors to consider:
1. Football is not just a game
It’s a clichÃ© but it is what it is. It’s more than 22 players who run after a ball. To fans, it often is a way of life. It’s a generational and cultural thing. Fans travel thousands of kilometres for a game that ends on 0-0. And they often give their skin to the club, by getting a tattoo. Talking about engagement…
A conversation manager needs to take this into consideration when communicating with fans. Reactions will be more direct and can be very emotional, with the heart on the tongue. It’s the task of the conversation manager to find a right tone of voice, in the way he communicates, that fits all parties.
2. There are 30.000 trainers in the stands
And 100.000 on the web. Every fan has his opinion and they will all vent their frustrations. Not only on team performance but also on everything that seems like a detail to you. For example: the new club shirts, the song you play when the home team scored, the colour of the football shoes of one of the players, etc.
What do you do with such conversations? How do you comment on transfer rumours? Clear conversation guidelines need to be developed.
3. The right content
In most communities it’s mostly accepted that content flows in through the week. Football fans however are eager for content throughout the whole week and weekend. You have to animate those football club fans 7/7. And to do this you need to be organised: decide which content is relevant, and which is not.
4. The online platform
Football has existed for ages and has been food for discussion since the beginning:
â€¢ Yesterday: on match days in the stands and during the week in the pub.
â€¢ Today: on match days in the stands, on Twitter, on Facebook, and during the week in the pub, on Twitter on Facebook, etc.
It will be difficult to decide where you want to be present. In most cases an official Facebook page of a brand is very welcome for fans to get the right information and discuss the products. For football fans it’s totally different. They can get their news almost everywhere and participate in discussions on hundreds of interesting web and/or fan pages. If they don’t like the platform you provide, the discussion will take place somewhere else and you will lose your audience.
5. Players are stars
Regular companies involved in online conversations often do their best to make their employees shine. They want them to be heroes. Football players are already heroes to certain fans. Every Tweet, every Facebook post will be picked up by their fans and will represent in a certain way the club. As all players have their own little ego it will be hard to control the messages they’re sending out.
Of course those 5 factors aren’t the only ones to take into consideration. There are many other difficulties that a conversation manager from a professional club will face. But I hope this is the start of an interesting discussion. So please do not hesitate to give me your cpinion.
Please note: After months of interviewing both players and communication managers from 13 professional football clubs I already have a clear view on the way professional football clubs are using, and will use, social media. On the 5th of December I will present the results of my survey in a trend session organized by Cleverwood.