The football world has a chequered history when it comes to social media, from Joey Barton’s rants on Twitter to Rio Ferdinand’s eloquent rebuttal of Sepp Blatter’s “there’s no racism in football”.
Now Manchester City is taking its chances on Twitter with a competition it is running ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup clash with Manchester United.
It has signed up Vincent Kompany, the Manchester City and Belgian team captain, to Twitter and is urging supporters to send him inspirational messages ahead of the derby, hashtagged #followthecaptain.
Kompany is going to choose the ‘most inspirational’ tweet and the person who posted it gets the prize of Kompany’s match day shirt and armband along with an autographed poster of the tweet.
In return, Kompany has vowed that his Twitter stream will give fans ‘an insight into what it means to be playing for the fastest growing club in the world and a young promising national team’.
So what will inspire the Belgian the most? Something simple like ‘score more goals than the other guys’? Something classical, like advice from the Art of War: ‘Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can.’ Or something traditional:
#followthecaptain is already gathering quite a bit of steam on Twitter. Now Blues fans just have to hope that details of the hashtag don’t fall into the hands of Manchester United fans.
The innovative Twitter campaign follows some other interesting digital moves at Man City, which recently led the club’s digital chief to claim its digital growth is faster than other big clubs.
Richard Ayers, the football club’s head of digital, said that his club was catching up to rivals such as Manchester United and Chelsea by building up its use of loyalty and digital channels. Ayers said football clubs and other sporting institutions in general needed to cater not just for people who turned up to the stadium, but also do a better job of connecting with their wider fanbase.