Here we take a good look at how Manchester United uses social media to grow their brand. Over the recent years, social media has become like Google; something we can’t live without. Brands in different industries continue to build their brands with the use of social media. Football clubs haven’t been left behind either. Such is the case of Manchester United or Red Devils as they are famously known. Manchester United is a clear depiction of how brands can use social media to not only create engagement but to grow their brand. The Red Devils are not only one of the most successful football clubs but are also very popular globally. As a leading professional sports brand, the club has been able to attract a community of over 659 million followers.
Back in 2013, it is approximated that the club garnered 47 million-page views showcasing its appeal as a brand. The club has the most visited website in the world ranking first before the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool following in closely at second and third positions respectively. The number of monthly visitors to its website stands at around 8.5 monthly.
The saying content is king applies to any organisation across various industries. Manchester United is a good example of a Club that lives by these rules every single day. They tweet about ten times a day. Their use of hashtags to drive their message is one thing that most businesses can adopt.
To better serve their international audience, the global brand’s website is available in seven different languages. This is in a bid to appeal to the interests and tastes of their supporters around the world. It is even the more reason as to why the Manchester United club has been able to build a well-established brand both online and offline.
So, what did the club do to get to where it is today?
Manchester United are on pretty much almost all social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ – and in all those sites, have amassed a large following. However, it’s important to note that they didn’t get where they are over a cup of coffee. It took work, lots of it to get them where they are. Remember that adage about ‘Rome not being built in a day’? The same applies to the brand building that Manchester United has done over the years. They have a social media strategy that is fully bullet proof that is largely based on the use of imagery and a short video. Below are some of the ways they used to get to where they are today:
- Use of local content based on the region their audience was
- Worked on improving their user engagement
- Improving their search engine optimisation (SEO) in the different languages including French, Chinese and Spanish.
- Improved the websites user experience, implemented strategies that would increase conversion and reduce bounce rate
- Leveraged on some of their key players to drive content and engagement, therefore, making the website easy to find with relevant content
- Tailoring of promotional content that is not only relevant but makes their followers feel as though they are part of the team
Manchester United’s Facebook page boasts of over 73 million likes and over 71 million followers globally. This makes other brands look small in terms of followings they have gotten over the years. However, it’s important to note that even with the achievement they have gained, Real Madrid and Barcelona FC beat the likes that Manchester United have been able to get so far with their page likes on Facebook being at 104 million and 102 million respectively. The Red Devils page is populated with about 10 – 15 posts in a day. Depending on the content shared, their posts can get more than 500 shares and comments. Due to a large number of followers, Manchester leverages on this and creates lots of engagement.
Most marketers in different industries, struggle to find a way of making their content more exciting and engaging. When sports are involved, however, the story becomes completely different. Fans are already excited about it a sport they love and enjoy watching. The burden then becomes that of addressing all the feedback and comments from energetic fans and supporters alike. This is the same case with Manchester United. They rarely respond to their followers’ comments. Even though we can’t point to the reason behind this, one good reason could be due to the number of comments they get from their supporters. I mean, football fans always have something to say, right? Whether it’s a lost match, the close of a transfer window or the season’s performance from the players.
Content shared on their Facebook page is far and diverse, but all comes back to the game, football. One good example is how they have packaged the unveiling of their 2017/18 kit. They are giving out some great prizes and an opportunity for their supporters to ‘win a signed third shirt plus a full kit in their size’. After an hour of them posting that, the post had received more than 8,000 reactions – likes, love, wow – over 50 comments and shares. Their use of Facebook, same to Twitter or Instagram heavily relies on imagery. Visual content is where social media is moving to. No one wants to read a long and boring post about what the team did. Moreover, keeping your audience on Facebook and not redirecting the traffic away helps gain more followers.
They have leveraged on this by pushing short video images whether on the signing of new players, a behind the scene during practice or general update about the team. Its use of visual imagery is more appealing to its audience and very much welcomed by supporters with their videos having more than 90,000 views. Content from their sponsors is also widely shared on their Facebook page showing how best they are making use of the supporters to push their sponsor’s brands to them. This is a clear depiction of how the brand influences revenue to on their sponsor’s side ensuring their ‘well never runs dry’ in terms of sponsorship season in season out.
The life span of a tweet is about 18 minutes. Twitter is one tool when used efficiently can bear great results for any brand. Since their account creation in 2013 when they started with about 700,000 followers in the first month, Manchester United’s English Twitter page has grown to amass 12.1 million followers. The irony; they only follower 106 accounts. When they started out on Twitter, they made use of hashtags surrounding most of their key players that would help them engage with their audience. Even though Manchester United slacked a bit when it came to joining the Twitter bandwagon, they joined with a strategy that has continued to see their numbers increase day in day out.
Same as Facebook, none of their posts are tweeted without an image or short video. Remember the effective use of visual image we talked about earlier? Yes, they continue to build their brand through that. Even though they have such a big following, Real Madrid and Barcelona FC still beat them with 24.4 million and 21.1 million followers respectively. In addition to their English Twitter account, they have ten different twitter accounts in 10 different languages to appeal to the local taste and interests of their supporters globally. Overall, Twitter has played a crucial role when it comes to the growth of the Club’s online presence. It has given them an opportunity to creatively interact with their fans. Still, they don’t respond to their followers.
The saying content is king applies to any organisation across various industries. Manchester United is a good example of a Club that lives by these rules every single day. They tweet about ten times a day. Their use of hashtags to drive their message is one thing that most businesses can adopt. One of their key hashtags is the #MUFC which are basically the initials of the football club’s full name. Most of their tweets get posted with this hashtag which helps create conversations around it. Their approach towards content on Twitter is very creative and catchy. Whether you want a quick behind the scene snippet of their players at practice or want to keep up with what’s happening with them, their TL is a good place to start.
Their introduction on Google + is quite catchy. It gives you an eye opener on what to expect while on their G+ page which includes a rich history of the Club and plenty of imagery. With more than six million followers on Google +, their fans can’t lack channels of engaging and interacting with their favourite Club even though they don’t respond to their follower’s due to scaling issues. Their content on G+ isn’t any different from that on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. Content that is rich in images and attractive. The prominence of their website link on their Google + account makes it a good way for them to channel all that traffic back to their website. This can be through the page itself or through improved search engine results page (SERPs) for both mobile and desktop centred on the rich snippets or position that Google ++ presents them with.
Facebook owned Instagram is also one of the social sites that Manchester United uses to maximise the full benefits of the online platforms. Instagram which is largely a more visual platform than Facebook and Twitter combined, still presents plenty of opportunities for the Club. Their Instagram account has 18.4 million followers with over 6,500 posts to date. Again, their use of clear images and short videos is quite evident on their Instagram account. From locker room photos of their player’s hanged jerseys, cheerleaders to their fans at the stadium, their use of imagery to create content that is appealing as well as engaging knows no limits. As their followers continue to grow so does the Manchester United brand grow with it.
In a bid to cater for their audience in the Far East, Manchester United Club also has a page on Sina Weibo, which is a Chinese microblogging site. Their launch on Sina Weibo was a clear indication that they wanted to brand build in every part of the globe. Moreover, Manchester United is one of the most popular football clubs in China. They have quite a following on Sina Weibo with their posts written in Chinese and getting quite the engagement that other clubs could only wish and hope for. Even on Sina Weibo, their content and imagery are similar to that they share on Twitter, Facebook, Google + or Instagram with the caveat being that the content is in the Chinese language. Still, it is targeted to the right audience that continues to engage with the Manchester brand.
They have quite a following on Sina Weibo with their posts written in Chinese and getting quite the engagement that other clubs could only wish and hope for. Even on Sina Weibo, their content and imagery are similar to that they share on Twitter, Facebook, Google + or Instagram with the caveat being that the content is in the Chinese language. Still, it is targeted to the right audience that continues to engage with the Manchester brand.
How Manchester United uses social media to grow their brand using different social media platforms is a clear depiction of what marketers and digital experts need to do; give their audience what it is that they want. Finding better ways to create engagements around your brand no matter the industry can help your business brand build online. Take time to build your business and create awareness first before jumping to all the available social media platforms with little or no expertise on any of the platforms. As you look to grow your business and brand build, a couple of things to reflect on based on the success of the Manchester United’s use of social media channels are:
Take time to build your business and create awareness first before jumping to all the available social media platforms with little or no expertise on any of the platforms. As you look to grow your business and brand build, a couple of things to reflect on based on the success of the Manchester United’s use of social media channels are:
- Content is key. You cannot have an effective marketing strategy that falls short of content that is attractive
- Use of hashtags that are relevant to your business or organisation
- Use of multiple social media platforms to create engagements and interaction with your followers while at the same time pushing key messaging that is relevant and appealing to your audience whether in a specific region or globally
- Research on the most used social media channels by your audience and leverage on those
- If possible, push for the same content across all your different social media channels that drive your agenda and vision
- Do market research on what worked and what didn’t and use the data to improve your overall marketing strategy and content
- Give your audience what they want. Your research will reveal what your audience engages with most and on what platforms and you can find better ways of tweaking your content to suit them
- Make use of how Manchester United uses social media to grow their brand – there’s no harm in copying a successful strategy.