I make no secret about my soccer allegiance; I’m an Everton FC fan.
As a social media, public relations and marketing professional, I’m also a fan of Everton’s digital strategy, and I’m not the only one. Everton’s successful leveraging of social media, and its Digital Media Manager, Scott McLeod, were recently highlighted in an article by Dan McLaren of the UK Sports Network. Within the article, McLeod and his team are credited with creating Everton’s first Mobile (Android) App, iPad App, and Podcast. Among other things discussed in the article were Everton’s successful #BlueCrimbo Christmas campaign, which used hashtags to both propel the campaign and measure its success, and the clubs digital evolution and dedication to creating an increased social presence.
My favorite part of what Everton FC is doing in the digital realm lies within its Everton Interactive page. They’ve taken the social media ecosystem and centralized it for fans convenience, and the shear abundance of digital content created within the organization, from its video platform Everton.tv, to its webchats that allow fans access to players and coaches, shows that Everton FC is an organization that understands what social media is about; giving fans behind the scenes access without actually being behind the scenes.
According to Mike DiLorenzo, Director of Social Media Marketing and Strategy for the NHL, “Social networks aren’t about Web sites. They’re about experiences.” As an American Everton fan, separated from the club by a rather large body of water, these social tools, and the engaging content that they create, help to fill the void of not physically experiencing Goodison Park on match-day. The same can be said about any Everton fan with internet access, no matter where they may reside, and the beauty of the digital landscape is that it’s not all on Everton’s shoulders to create an engaging community. Online groups like EvertonUSA (@EvertonUSA), help bring fans together and act as unofficial distributors for the content that Everton creates.
As the UK Sports Network article mentions, Everton has successfully integrated their marketing strategy with a combination of traditional media and new media. This is an area where too many companies fail. As Richard Hanna, Andrew Rohm and Victoria Crittendon found, “Many companies make the mistake of treating these media as disparate platforms or silos that operate independently of each other. Instead, companies should view their approach to social media as an integrated strategy that brings consumer experiences to the forefront.”
While Everton aren’t the only club using social media in this way, they are among the best, having won awards for their website twice in the last 3 years, including ‘Best in Class’ at the Interactive Media Awards. They continue to lead by example in their play on the pitch, and their presentation off it, and I can say I’m an Everton fan both personally, and professionally.