Social media in sport will always divide opinionIn the latest edition of his monthly blog, Senior Club Journalist Ben Mouncer adds to the topical debate about social media and football.
Can’t live with it and can’t live without it?
A well-worn phrase that can be used to describe many things, but it’s especially accurate when defining the dynamic between a football club’s press office and the massive yet murky world of what is known as ‘social media’.
Norwich City boasts 425,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook, 220,000 ‘followers’ on Twitter, 18,000 on Google+ and 11,000 on Instagram. None of these digital platforms existed ten years ago, but sat alongside the Club’s website and YouTube channel, they form an important chunk of day-to-day business.
This week, a familiar debate about social media’s pitfalls has opened up again, however, and a stock question has been asked once more – is it good for sport?
All who work at Carrow Road and Colney are here to support the first team and serve our supporters. In the Public Relations and Digital departments, we are tasked with managing and enhancing our communication with the fans.
Not so long ago, those communication channels will have been the matchday programme, press releases and newsletters. While ‘On The Ball City’ retains its ‘esteemed organ’ status, social media has without doubt revolutionised this process.
In July this year, a Norwich City player made it into the semi-finals of the World Cup. We communicated this news regarding Leroy Fer and the Netherlands via our Facebook page, and it reached close to 1.5m pairs of eyes.
That’s a staggering number. It’s a post that was seen by people who would fill Carrow Road 58 times over, yet its design and dissemination likely took less than 58 seconds.
It is that speed and reach that has elevated Facebook and Twitter quickly to our foremost means of communication, yet those are the qualities that can often prove the downfall of social media.
In the past week, we’ve had local and national examples of footballers generating headlines through their online activities. It provided one of the main lines of enquiry at Neil Adams’ pre-match press conference at Colney on Thursday.
The relationship between supporters and their heroes has changed in the Twitter age. It’s a direct line now.
That means as press officers and content providers, we have arguments for and against the benefits and detriments of social media on a daily basis, lifting it up with one hand and knocking it down with the other.
The wider football world is yet to decide on its answer either.
In interviews, Arsene Wenger has opined that the burden should rest on the shoulders of the individuals who use it, but Alan Kennedy believes it should be on the clubs. Many others have added to the debate and it will rage on.
It seems only one thing is for certain: social media is here to stay.