In My Opinion: Gary Ennis: Football clubs should encourage social media sharing, not ban it

WE live in a world of social media sharing and I think football clubs who try to prevent fans from recording video on their mobile phones, when at a match, risk ‘shooting themselves in the foot’.

I write this having heard of at least two instances in recent weeks, including here in Scotland.

A big chunk of my work involves helping businesses – including many sports organisations – use social media to engage an audience and grow.

First, from a practical point of view, any ban is going to be very difficult to enforce.

And, secondly, the world is changing; it’s not going to be possible to hold back the tide.

Far better to positively encourage filming, tweeting and sharing, and capitalise on the fact that the fans who come to games are clamouring to show their friends exactly where they are. It’s the best kind of advertising you can do these days.

Here, at NSDesign, we’ve done a lot of work with sports organisations such as Glasgow Warriors rugby, Glasgow Rocks basketball, Braehead Clan ice hockey and sportscotland.

Why football would want to ban fans sharing video content while other sports are relaxed about it may have something to do with broadcasting rights; I am only speculating. Because, in my opinion, there’s no way a fan sharing some video clips with their friends is going to take away audience from the mainstream broadcasters, showing live coverage or highlights.

There’s a world of difference.

If professional football is no different to other sports in that needs to build additional revenue streams, then digital should be part of the mix. Tweets, images and video sent using hashtags should appear on big screens at stadiums and more clubs should produce their own apps with useful location-based features built in.

And here’s a radical thought: why shouldn’t the fans, the people who keep these teams afloat, be able to influence team selection through Twitter and Facebook?

The deeper the engagement, the easier it is to generate more revenue from the fans, whether it’s a half-time snack, a season ticket, merchandising, corporate hospitality or whatever else they can think of.

The key here is accepting that the world has changed and treating paying customers with respect.

And that message really is the focus of the ‘Working Digital’ conference we’re organising in Kilmarnock later this month.

It’s a three-day event we’re running on behalf of East Ayrshire council, with a great line-up of speakers, including Martin Steele, IRN-BRU brand group manager; Amber Atherton, owner of and a former Made In Chelsea star; and the digital team behind Glasgow 2014.

For more details of the event, click here.

Gary Ennis is managing director of NSDesign, a Glasgow digital agency providing social media training and web design services.