Should global brands set-up their own social networks?
Posted: Monday 05 December, 2011
I was reading the other day about how Manchester United has appointed an agency to design and build it, its very own social network which got me thinking will, or should, other brands follow suit?
The Manchester United Facebook page reached over 20 million fans in its first year which I’m sure you’ll agree isn’t too bad but, with its own social platform it's aiming to reach 500 million users! They obviously have a big global following with about 660 million supporters but that’s not too far off Facebook territory!
If successful in reaching that figure then it will undoubtedly be an amazing achievement. It will however place huge responsibility on the team running the network. Keeping users happy with suitable and entertaining updates, responding to questions and general engagement will be a tough job – as it will be with its current Facebook page, just on a bigger and more personal scale. Get any of these wrong and it has the potential to reflect very badly on the team and its franchise as whole. Get it right though and it’ll have an extremely powerful asset at its disposal, which could mean that it wouldn’t need a billionaire investor to stay competitive. The temptation of the latter could potentially lure other brands to follow suit.
It may well work for Manchester United but personally, unless you’re another top five football club, I think it will be a waste of time in the long run. Being a fan of a football team takes a certain level of commitment which could quite easily transfer online but for other brands, even globally recognised brands, I think they’d struggle to get anything off the ground.
Take Paul Smith for example. A fantastic label, cool designs, great clothes and its Facebook page has a lot of fans and a reasonable level of engagement. I would, however, guess that half the fans are fans because they want to show their communities that they are associated with the brand. If Paul Smith opened its own network then fans wouldn’t have the ‘open’ association factor so I doubt it would pick up much traction.
With Facebook being so prominent, the longevity of people switching from one network to another to effectively do the same thing really has to be questioned. So are other brands going to follow Manchester United? Certainly in the short to medium term, I seriously doubt it.