Man City are top of the league for digital
Manchester City FC say the decision of its owners to go completely digital has helped build its global audience.
That’s the view of the club’s editor-in-chief Chris Bailey, who effectively oversees all the editorial content coming out the club.
He said following the club’s takeover in 2008 the new owner Sheikh Mansour made being completely digital a key priority.
Man City’s Twitter account now has 4.6 million followers while the club also has a big social media presence on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
A recent funny video the club shared of star player Kevin De Bruyne being accidentally hit in the face with a ball was viewed more than 10 million times in total.
Bailey said Man City took a conscious decision not to set up a TV channel, preferring instead to go down the digital route.
“We try and entertain people,” he said. “We have that culture and hopefully try to build it a bit quicker although, like I said, a lot of Premier League clubs are catching up.
“The idea was to grow the fan base, and to pinch a phrase from the 2017 general election, it was always going to be ‘for the many, not the few’.”
With the Premier League now being a global brand Bailey said the digital approach has enabled them to reach with audiences all over the world.
“I am so lucky because we’re allowed to make mistakes,” he said. “We are encouraged to innovate, to try stuff where we can. If we make mistakes nobody’s really shouting at us and that’s a really great culture.
“Football’s always been, conservative with a small ‘c’. It’s a bit of an echo chamber, it’s very slow to change. I’m sure you both have to convince chairmen of boards, to spend money on tech, to spend money on people who run tech and I’ve got to say at this point, people are the most important thing.”
We reported earlier this year how City recruited a firm to trawl trillions of their fans’ social media posts to understand them better.
Bailey spoke at a recent digital summit called by new Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and agreed with a comment from AO.com’s founder John Roberts.
“My job is to run a team, build a team and get the right people,” explained Bailey. “John said ‘always employ people that are smarter than you’. That’s not hard in my case and that’s what we do.
"Let them do what they do, don’t micro manage them, don’t interfere, they’re creatives, really bright people. Just let them do what they do.”
The club recently released an app dedicated to developing the skills of young Americans which allows them to compare themselves with City stars.