Friday, 20 September 2019

Non-League Football Clubs - Success with Social Media

For around 20 months as I write this, I have been using social media to help Warminster Town Football Club get more attention. This is a story of how a club can increase attendance and create a feeling of well-being for the players and supporters through the power of social media.

In the Beginning


Around 3 years ago, I started attending a few games at Warminster with my nephew and liked the spirit of non-league football. A good crowd was about 70 or 80 which in the Toolstation Western League, Division 1 was quite good. I noticed that nothing was being done with social media and the website domain looked as though it had expired and taken over by someone chancing their luck. The holding page saying that Versace's Lawyers had shut the site down for promoting fake goods.

I, therefore, did 2 things. The first was to create a Twitter account @WTFCSupporter to use to draw attention when matches were being played. The second was to create a blog to write up match reports for the games I saw myself (at that time it was mostly home games). 

This drew some attention, and I was invited in at the end of the 2018/18 season to the local radio station WCR FM to review the year from a supporter's view. At the end of 2018, I was asked to take over a relatively newly created club website that was set up due to the original one still being stuck with the Versace notice. Also, I was asked to take on Instagram and manage the Facebook Page. I was also asked to write the match reports for The Warminster Journal as now I was travelling to the majority of away games.

For some time, I have also been live-streaming the matches, firstly via YouTube and more recently Periscope. We had to switch to Periscope as YouTube has a policy of requiring 1000 subscribers to go live from a mobile device and as yet we don't have that many.

This meant that I could now tie in much of the social media. Social media tends to link well from one platform to another, generating more interest. A couple of the players resurrected the original Twitter account, @WarminsterTnFC and they manage that today. It takes time to look after the accounts, but not as much as people might think. In fact, a few minutes a day can go a long way. The most time is spent on writing content for the website, uploading it, organising interviews for the weekly podcast, and sorting out photos from our photographer, optimising them for the Internet and making promotional videos.

Results


The results of social media have been incredible. The attendance has gone up with a poor gate being 110 and we are moving to a point where we expect 120 plus and have gone over 200. The players love being featured on social media and seeing themselves play in the matches, which they can watch back on replay. You only need a smartphone to broadcast live although I have invested in a DJI Osmo Gimbal which makes for very smooth viewing without the limitations of a tripod. 

We have people around the world who have seen our social media messages and watched live football. Some have gone on to travel many miles across the UK to watch a match at Warminster. Others across the world have asked about buying the team kit and getting badges or souvenirs. All of this for a small non-league club in rural Wiltshire! I have received emails from Italy, Poland and messages from India, the USA and South American Countries from people all showing their support for Warminster Town Football Club.

How You Can Succeed


Firstly you need to open social media accounts for the club and have someone to manage the accounts properly. The points below will help you to make sure you do this right. If you have a website, make sure it is up to date. The vast majority of non-league football club websites I visit are months or even years out of date!

Make sure that you control any official accounts and have rules who can post, what sort of messages can be posted and that a signed agreement to use it properly is completed. 

The Bio in any account needs to be informative and precise. Spend time on your bio and write it and add your website link. Be prepared to change it from time to time to keep it relevant.

Suggested Accounts 

Make sure you have at least the following accounts as a minimum to have social media success.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook Page
  • Instagram
If you can do more then look at YouTube, Podcasting and Livestreaming. Pinterest is also another option. However, unless you can do it consistently and well keep don't sign up for accounts that you can't give the appropriate attention to.

Be Consistent 

Post regularly. Don't allow weeks to go by without adding some content. Daily is best, especially for Twitter. Find good photos from the matches to add to all your accounts along with any video clips. I make graphics (Google Slides is suitable for this) and short videos using Apple Clips to advertise the next match.

Pay attention to your club website! It needs to have regular information added, so forthcoming matches and match reports are an excellent way to keep people interested in your website and search engines are also going to look more favourably on it too.

Have a Social Media Policy

Make sure that whoever posts, does so respectfully. Do not use your football accounts to offend rival supporters, referees, the Football Association or get involved in other subjects, such as politics. Your club should have a social media policy that warns those managing the accounts of the consequences of any breach in the way the accounts are used. The club will be responsible in law for any official accounts that are not managed correctly, for example, racism.

Build a Community

Always remember that this is Social Media, the emphasis is on the word 'social'. Make sure you welcome new followers and reply to comments. Follow accounts that are relevant not just because they follow you. On Twitter, you can set up lists to see what those you don't wish to follow are saying, If you follow too many, you can't engage with everyone. 

Share other posts and tweets with your followers where they would be of interest to them. This creates a bond between your club and those accounts that you also help in this way. They, in turn, are more likely to share your posts from time to time.

Use Hashtags

Hashtags '#' are a good way to help people find your posts. When people search for a hashtag, for example, #football it will show either as the most popular post or the lastest which contain that hashtag. Viewers choose which to see on some platforms. Instagram will help you find many more followers when you use them. However, don't cheat! Only used words that are relevant. Include the name of your team, your opponents, the town, county, the name of the football competition etc. Here are some ideas from some that I use. #Warminster #Wiltshire #FAVase #FACup #warminstertownfc  #nonleaguefootball #nonleague Check out our Instagram account! 

Tools to Help You

You can manage your accounts from a smartphone using the official apps for Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Page, Instagram, and so on. For a laptop or desktop when it comes to Twitter, I recommend Tweetdeck, which is owned by Twitter and is free. You can set up searches, lists and schedule tweets, all of which are really useful.

Learn How

There is always something new to learn with social media. The various platforms are continually being changed, and new features added. Make sure you play around with them and go to the 'Help' sections they provide along with recent Youtube videos made by people who know how to use them. Be careful about looking at older videos and blogs as they might confuse you. If you search for help from third parties on Google or Youtube, use the search facility to make the most recent results appear first. 

Above all, enjoy what you do! 

If you would like to ask more questions please leave a comment in the box below.


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