Posts Tagged 'Social Media'

The Match Day Experience: a Social Media trial goes live

Twitter on a City Square big screen

#blueview tweets on a City Square big screen

If, at first,  you don’t succeed… then trial trial trial again. Or, learn from your mistakes, try again with a different approach and have a lot of fun with the second go. That’s what the phrase should be.

Ten days ago I wrote about the experiment we ran with getting tweets live onto screens at the Etihad stadium on a match day. An experiment in using social media, twitter in particular, to engage football fans in the run-up to a Premier League match – integrated into our pre- and post-match entertainment schedule. It was a good experiment in that it showed up lots of the challenges.

Last weekend, when MCFC played Norwich City, we gave it another go. 

This time, rather than showing a conversation between two selected fans, we implemented a filtered twitter-stream based around the hashtag #blueview.

We had Mass Relevance’s Tweetriver auto-filtering the ‘fire-hose’ of twitter, and we set it to reject RTs, tweets containing links and profanity. All tweets were held for moderation. With some things it’s better to be safe than sorry – especially if you’re just getting it off the ground.

Tweets stacked on screenTweets were displayed in a ticker-tape when there was live video going out – and in a stack when there was no action on-stage in the pre-match entertainment. We specifically focused on 1pm – 2.30 pm and 5pm – 6pm in order to avoid connectivity issues – but, of course, that means we missed the bulk of the audience.

Where were the fans?

  • on their way to the stadium
  • across the world
  • in City Square
  • inside the Stadium

How did they use it?

  • Opinion
  • Well wishes
  • Jokes
  • Birthdays
  • Banter
  • Interaction with presenters
  • Abuse (non fans)

Fan feedback was excellent. Lots of people were delighted to get involved and have a voice. User Generated Content, eh? It doesn’t always have to be citizen journalism.


      • Tweets using #blueview: about 2,000
      • Percentage published: 21%
      • Percentage rejected: 43%
      • Remaining awaiting moderation: 36%

This 43% of rejections was largely made up of RTs and mentions. Those awaiting moderation are partly made up of duplicate messages where people repeated themselves or others, but also shows us that if we want to get more through the system, we need to speed up/add some resource to the moderation process.

The split of pre/post match tweet volume was 2/1.

Users: we identified just under 1,000 individual twitter authors.

Fans' tweets on the big screen behind the City Square stage

To put this into context, the stadium capacity is 47,700 seats.  An estimated 25,000 pass through the Square on a match day (although many will be immediately prior to kick-off) and the City Square capacity is around 5,000. The number of people who would have been in City Square more than an hour before the game would be in the region of a few hundred at any one time. So, it is reasonable to assume that although the factor of people tweeting to see themselves come up on the screen will have played a part, with 1,000 twitter authors, factoring in the penetration of smartphones (c31% in general population) overlayed with the usage profile of twitter… it shows that there’s some desire from people who aren’t at the stadium to take part in the atmosphere of the day.

So, will we do it again?

Yes. In fact, we just did at the Bayern Munich game. Will we do it consistently from now on? It seems like a good idea – the use of social media, smartphones and twitter is likely to rise, but the key factor is whether the fans want it.

What’s next? More experiments, more failures, more learning, more trials, more successes.

Any thoughts or comments are always welcome – either in the comments below or via @mcfcgeeks or mcfcgeeks @

The Match Day Experience: a Social Media experiment

MCFC City Square fans outside the Summerbee bar

City fans outside the Summerbee bar in City Square

Pies, beer, football – that’s all you need for the perfect day out. At least, that’s the view of some people who think that media and technology are a distraction – both in terms of the organisation of a football club and also the fans’ experience on the day.

Last week I was speaking at the inaugural How-Do Sports Business and Marketing conference and I listened to Robert Elstone, Everton’s CEO, speak about the importance of the match-day experience for fans. He was very clear about doing everything he can to ensure that when you turn up at Goodison, you have as good a time as possible.

Where he and I differ is that I believe that digital media has an increasingly important role to play. Robert said he wasn’t convinced and felt that there were more important things to focus on for now – and as he’s infinitely more experience in football than I am, I’m sure he’s right – for Everton. Digital media can be an addition to the excitement, not an alternative.

I know some diehards feel that nothing should distract from the action on the pitch, but my bet would be that it won’t be long before some fans are using handheld devices during the match to add something to the game.

image copyright engadget.

Football isn’t like many US sports where there are long breaks mid-play that give you time to check up on the last play or the stats or watch a replay (like with FanVision)… but I think it would be foolish to bet against services being used by a large enough audience in the near future. In fact, if you include the use of SMS, then you could argue that handheld devices and their communication capability has already changed a match-day. How many people do you know who are in touch with mates at other grounds during the game?

Now, putting aside the fact that all stadia act like Faraday cages and so getting a signal (never mind 3G) can be nigh-on impossible, and assuming that this will change, then it’s interesting to consider how social media might affect the fans on a match day.

[as an aside, thanks to all the @mcfcgeeks twitter followers who continue to ask about our progress with boosting signal or installing wifi in the Etihad stadium – we’re working on it and it’s a high priority for me so it’s good to hear your needs]

I wanted to experiment with social media on a match day. So we decided to run a test using twitter, discussion between two blogger/supporters over twitter, and integrating that into the pre-match media that we run in City Square.

As an experiment, it was a great success.

As an enhancement of the match-day experience it was, well… rubbish.

If you follow me on twitter, or @vickistansfield or @mcfcgeeks then you will know how much we try to be open and straight-talking with fans about what we’re trying to achieve as well as sharing with the digital community about our plans and progress. So, in that spirit, I wanted to share with you the case-study that we put together to debrief this experiment.

You can view or download the Manchester City FC Matchday Tweets Case Study_MCFC vs NUFC 19.11.11.

Our project manager, John Kearney, comes to some clear conclusions about what didn’t work and why: the conversation was out of context, it wasn’t live enough, you couldn’t interact with it … to name a few. But he also comes up with a series of recommendations which gives me hope for trying this again and making it work better next time.

Our American geek friends are particularly fond of a phrase that sums up our approach here – and it’s one we’ve taken to heart in the @mcfcgeeks team: Fail Better. Working with new technologies, new forms of social interaction, and integrating them into such a well-developed experience as the warm-up to a Premier League football match is never going to be easy, but we’re experimenting, learning and innovating…. and that leads to success.

When I wrapped up my talk about engaging a fanbase online at the How-Do conference, there was one thing I should have added: The reason why we feel like this kind of thing is important isn’t just to do with being innovative for the sake of it; it’s not because we like spending time and money on the latest digital fad; it’s not because we want to find a way to make money out of fans. The reason why we do this is because our fans deserve it.

City fans use mobiles and facebook and twitter and foursquare and and youtube every day, just like everyone else, and if we can give them more access to the club they love via those platforms, we will.

About this blog

This is the official blog of the digital and media team at MCFC.

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