By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester
In the space of a year, Manchester United have acquired more than 14 million “likes” on Facebook. This is a fantastic display of Manchester United’s clout as a brand and it would be expected that the club would take full advantage of Facebook as a marketing platform.
Yet Manchester United have come out this week stating that they will not be advertising on their Facebook page. The club launched the page last July which was regarded by many as quite late. Maybe this late entry into social media was because Manchester United didn’t know how to approach social media marketing as a football club?
With Manchester United’s Facebook page acquiring 14 million likes in under a year, it would seem to be an obvious move to advertise on their page. This hasn’t happened and the club have decided to opt out of Facebook advertising as they feel it will stop the growth of the fan base.
United’s Head of Marketing, Jonathan Rigby, has been quoted as saying,
“”We don’t sell off Facebook and are resisting until we are satisfied it will not mess up the growth of the Facebook page. Our big concern is that if we get it wrong then the fan base will stop growing.”
This fear that advertising may stunt the growth of Manchester United’s Facebook page is understandable, but what benefits could Facebook advertising bring to the club? Obviously Manchester United advertise, but unlike conventional advertising, Facebook ads can target and segment markets depending on the information on users’ profiles.
This segmentation could be used in countries where Manchester United are looking at the potential for growth, such as the US, India (where Facebook already has 40 million fans) and China. Facebook ads can provide all businesses (regardless of size) with the potential to target specific audiences – and it can be done efficiently and cost-effectively.
Manchester United also refuse to embrace other social media platforms, such as Twitter. The club have stated that they don’t feel there is a “role for Twitter”. With recent reports in the tabloids relating to Manchester United players and their use of Twitter, it is understandable why the club are cautious to have a Twitter platform.
Manchester United’s scepticism about the effectiveness of social media is hardly surprising. And it’s clear why they want to keep their Facebook page “for the fans”. It’s an admirable decision and, speaking as a United fan, I feel the Facebook page should be about the club – and not the profits.