"...this is the most articulate and accurate piece written about the club for years!" - Tales from the Front, http://www.otib.co.uk/

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Football and Social Media with one of the Two Unfortunates

The latest publication of my 'On the Social' column from the Bristol City matchday programme, Red Alert: Reading, Setpember 15th 2011

This week I’m delighted to welcome Reading fan Rob Langham, co-founder of the excellent www.thetwounfortunates.blogspot.com website, which comprehensively covers all things Football League. Follow them on Twitter @twounfortunates

Your blog specialises in the Football League, why did you decide to set up specifically excluding the Premier League?
My fellow blogger and I both supported then Championship clubs in Reading and Plymouth so that was our main area of interest.  The Premier League was already well covered by a range of excellent blogs.

Until a couple of years ago bloggers were fairly niche, known to each other in quite a small world, but Twitter has allowed some fairly major-scale expansion and PR. Would you agree and how have you used Twitter to benefit your site?
I still think it is quite a small world compared to online message boards, albeit a fast-growing one. Twitter has allowed us to publicise our posts to supporters of all 72 clubs and has also allowed us to feel part of a community of online football writers.

You produced a quite incredible 108-page season preview in conjunction with @the72football. How successful was it, and was that your 'best' moment as a blogger?
We were delighted with the response and over 25,000 people downloaded it. Given the work put in to the preview and the way it pulled together an enthusiastic team of contributors, it has to be up there.

How do you feel forums, blogs and Twitter have influenced the 'instant success' requirement we see at many clubs?
In the past, chairmen, players and managers probably stood aloof from fan criticism and praise - judging their efforts on how they were received on match day alone. Now, it would take a self-controlled striker to not check what people were saying about him on twitter or the forums, so how the supporters are feeling is now far more obvious.

What's the best thing about Twitter?
Most people tend to buy just one newspaper a day but Twitter has provided access to the whole range of media - if there is an article by a Swansea blogger analysing Steven Caulker's performances so far this season and you are interested to learn how he is getting on, Twitter can draw it to your attention very quickly.

Can, and should, the clubs do more to embrace this still relatively new world of communications?
I think they are already using it quite well in the main and the people at Reading FC are very willing to interact with fans on Twitter. This leads to an increase in the feel of a club as a community.

There are an increasing number of footballers on Twitter, not without controversy.  Do you think they will still be allowed to tweet in two or three years?
Yes - I am not sure of the legalities but imposing bans might be seen as a restraint on personal freedom and would be impossible to enforce. Tweeting foolishly is the fault of the footballers concerned, not the medium.

Who are your favourite football-related 'follows' on Twitter?
Aside from a super range of club specific blogs such as The Exiled Robin (Bristol City) and @TheTilehurstEnd (Reading), there are some truly fabulous general ones. @SwissRamble is unbeatable on football finance, @twoht, @JustFootball and @FutblFairground do a great job of covering the game at all levels, and the writing on more idiosyncratic blogs like @Twisted_Blood is superb. There are also some brilliant podcasts - with @twofootedtackle the most consistently enjoyable of these.

And do you have a favourite tweet of all-time?
I think there are too many to mention but football writers Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) and Steven Gabb (@mirkobolesan) are consistently amusing and insightful.

And finally, what do you think the result tonight will be and what hopes do you have for Reading's season?
A tight 1-1 draw!  The departure of Shane Long and Matt Mills has heralded a transitional season and it will take time for new signings like Joseph Mills and Adam Le Fondre to settle in - starting again with a mainly young side will have its ups and downs - but there is plenty of talent there.

The Exiled Robin (@cider1977)

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