Danny Rogers: Premier League has got social media-savvy

The Premier League's decision to double the size of its comms operation with the hire of a four-strong social media team is a highly significant one.

Danny Rogers: Premier League has got social media-savvy
Danny Rogers: Premier League has got social media-savvy

Comms director Dan Johnson is beefing up the league's corporate voice in the media channel where the big stories are now being broken. Where consensus is formed.

It is not only millions of football fans who turn to social media to learn about and discuss the latest developments. Many key players - including Rio Ferdinand, Joey Barton and Wayne Rooney - are locked in constant conversation with their million-plus personal followers on Twitter. Meanwhile, football journalists - often with tens of thousands of their own followers - use the medium to break information and discuss the issues; more than that, they use Twitter as the source of many print-based stories and columns.

Johnson told PRWeek the move was 'a way of bridging the gap between our team and what is a huge global audience and huge demand'. The subtext to this is that if the Premier League were not to make a major investment in social media now, it would simply trail in the wake of the ever-accelerating agenda surrounding the world's greatest domestic league.

The furore over the non-handshake last weekend between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra demonstrated the pace of the modern football agenda. The 'handshake' issue had dominated the narrative in the run-up to the match, and when Suarez refused to proffer a friendly hand, social media were aflame with outrage within seconds. The commentators, even the crowd, were so caught up with the controversy that the early minutes of the match were played in an almost unreal atmosphere. The story led the early evening TV bulletins.

Johnson and his soon-to-be-bolstered comms team recognise - as so many organisations have - that they need to keep abreast of this febrile agenda and respond quickly and appropriately where required.

As elsewhere the penny has dropped that monitoring and analysing of, and responding to, social media conversations is resource-heavy.

Brand Republic's well-attended Social Brands conference last week (feature, page 26) highlighted the battle comms teams are facing to retain control of social media strategy when it is - rightly - now combined with the efforts of marketing and customer relations teams. Hence the Premier League's 'seven-figure' investment in comms.

Fortunately English football, unlike so many other parts of our society, appears to have been largely unaffected by the recession.

Also read: Premier League's social drive

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