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

Friday, 27 April 2012

#fanpowerstadium #bristolcity

My article from Bristol City's matchday programme, Red Alert:
Coventry, Easter Monday, April 9th

Most Bristol City fans are probably now aware of the Fanpowerpromotion the Football League sponsors nPower are running, having featured regularly in the programme and on the club’s website.  What may have passed many by, as with many competitions these days, is that the only way in you can actually help is by signing up via Facebook.

Essentially they are using the new social media channels to give them cheap information about potential new customers – let’s face it, they wouldn’t be spending money on prize-money or promoting it if there wasn’t something in it for them, and there are benefits galore in using these new channels.

For sponsors, the opportunity to utilise their involvement with a competition such as the Football League which is mass-supported, has substantially improved in the past few years.  Think back 15 years – if an event was sponsored, how could that company actually use that status?  They had logos plastered all over the various merchandise, at key angles of television around the event and all that comes with it such as press conferences.  On top of that they probably spent many millions of pounds advertising their involvement through other channels, all building the kind of brand awareness levels only large-scale (and large-cost) advertising used to be able to create.

They still have these options of course, but with incentives like the Fanpower competition, nPower now have the ability to gather key information about potential customers so they can target offers effectively.  As with all of these things there is the ability for individuals to opt-out but by offering the chance to win money in a prize draw the promoter is making the assumption that many will leave that box unticked.

The key difference with using social media is two-fold.  Back in the days of using postal coupons for this sort of thing it was very much a 1-on-1 relationship.  The club might have had a coupon in the programme, only visible by a few thousand people, which some fans would have cut out and posted off and that was that – at some point you may have received a phone call or a letter with an offer but it was limited.

Now, by using Facebook and Twitter, nPower get hundreds of thousands of users to promote their message for free.  By structuring the competition in such a way that it needs momentum and interactive encouragement they can get football fans – amongst the passionate about any topic in the land – doing their advertising for them.  Once you’re signed up, ‘Mentions’ on Facebook or Twitter (using #fanpowerstadium) collect points and it’s a race against the other clubs.  Therefore it’s in my interest, your interest and the club’s interest to get as many people as possibly sharing activity and retweeting – each mention undoubtedly intriguing a handful of your friends and followers just enough that within a few clicks they’re suddenly signed up too.

Secondly it’s just so much easier.  A single click from the club’s website, a handful of personal details and that’s that.  The cost is minimal and they’ve made it a prize worth winning - one the fans would feel proud of winning for their club, so it’s worth spending a few seconds signing up.

Having said all of that, this isn’t the easiest of competitions to get your head around.  There’s the ‘Grab a Seat’, check-ins at the stadium, mentions on Facebook, mentions on Twitter…it’s actually difficult to keep track and remember what you can and can’t do to help gain points.  It also runs for more than two months, meaning winning is likely to be attritional rather than exciting – a handful of campaigners will probably be needed to keep momentum up and remind people they should keep gaining points, day in, day out.  This goes against many of the instant and spontaneous principles of social media interaction where bizarre topics trend for a few hours then disappear, or random videos ‘go viral’ and are seen by millions within just a couple of days.

Still, it would be worth winning, wouldn’t it?  To play your part and help City towards the £30,000 prize then please sign up via Facebook HERE.  Let’s win something this season! #fanpowerstadium

Follow me on Twitter: @TheExiledRobin

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