Brand Republic reported in November 2011 that Manchester United would use Social networking Channels to engage with 500 million of its fans worldwide as the club explains MU wants the new network to ”drive engagement with the club’s fans and tap into Asian markets, where Manchester United has a strong following and smartphone use is growing rapidly”.
Now local rivals and close neighbours Manchester City are coming closer to home using a social networking platform to engage with fans attending and watching games at the Etihad Stadium. Trials run last year by Mass Relevance at the Newcastle and Norwich games showed the benefits of fan integration.
City's social enhancements include the use of Twitter to engage and entertain fans who tune into the TV broadcasts at City Square, a dedicated fan area near the club's shop. They also integrate real-time fan Tweets on Etihad Stadium's video boards, jumbotron and other stadium distribution channels. City is the first Premier League club to use the popular social media platform as part of their in-game displays.
Manchester United is actually quite low down on the list of Twitter Influence when ranked against other European Football teams and the City initiatives may become a blueprint for other clubs.
In the December game against Norwich, Mass Relevance delivered social content on match day screens throughout the stadium and created dialogue with and between fans. The strategy resulted in more than 1,500 #blue view Tweets in just six hours from more than 965 unique Twitter authors, providing the club with message and brand reach of nearly 400,000 Twitter users with nearly 2.5 million impressions.
Richard Ayers, Digital Playmaker for Manchester City, said: "At City we have always believed that home games at the Etihad Stadium are not just exclusive to the 47,000 fans in the stands. They are an opportunity for City supporters from around the world to connect with one another and feel part of the match day experience."