China is probably one of the most conservative nations in the world. Governed by a very structured government, China has slowly made strides to conform to the way of the more liberal world. Thanks to advances in technology, Chinese people like many of us in America, have come to learn that there is power in sharing information especially online and this is something that he Chinese government has also learned. In fact, some say that social media has facilitated opposition towards the government and historically, this is something very foreign to the Chinese government. Social media has allowed Chinese people to become more informed, has provided more options, and has provided them with a platform where they can talk freely about social and government issues. Just recently, there was a train crash that killed about 39 people. It took over 5 days for the Chinese government to release a statement regarding this tragedy and eventually they did so but only after pressure from the media, public outcry, and the mass amount of content generated globally through social media. What is the point here? The Chinese government and Chinese businesses must get on board with the premise behind social media to help maintain control and success.
The Liverpool Football Club has an opportunity to show the Chinese Government and Chinese businesses why social media works
The Liverpool Football Club (LFC) (football is known as soccer in China and other parts of the world) has a chance to improve the perception of the Chinese government as well as show them and Chinese businesses how social media can aid in being successful through the use of their recently launched social media campaign that coincides with a tour of Asia that started last week. Using Weibo (a micro blogging site) a Chinese hybrid of Facebook and Twitter, the fan page provides local language updates, football content, and encourages social interaction with Chinese supports of the Club. In addition, this will be the first time in the former British clubs history where the club will tour mainland China. They will also give fans an up close and personal view of their experiences while touring on the team blog. Fans will be able to view video footage, interviews, and will get information on how to attend games and meet players while on their expedition.
Although this type of campaign may seem basic in nature compare to major US campaigns, this is a huge undertaking for the Club due to the tight political constraints that make it difficult for people to be opinionated in an open setting. When LFC was first acquired it raised many eyebrows amongst most Chinese citizens. This was because the club was purchased by a Chinese businessman who received funding from a mainland China investment fund which meant that it was being politically and financially supported by the central government. For this reason, the club was afraid that Chinese fans would be hesitant to engage in the normal fan activities like attending games and smack talking.
Because of this hurdle, LFC had to find a way to get people excited about the club and to reach out to their fans through this social media campaign. With approximately 400 million social media users, launching this campaign was the perfect vehicle and hopefully other international clubs and the Chinese government will follow suit. Here is how they could both benefit by invading the digital space:
1. The government can change how they are viewed. The Chinese government’s involvement with this campaign will help shift the perception of the government specifically for the younger generation. Like many young Americans, online engagement with young Chinese people is very high with sports ranking 3rd for trending topics of discussion. Millions of Chinese fans watched the World cup and have already been actively engaged since the campaign was launched. As long as the fan page keeps up relevant content and remains true to a high level of engagement, the Chinese people will possibly begin to see the government as adapting to their digital way of life. The government can use this platform to also help create more patriotism amongst the Chinese people.
2. The state of China will benefit. LFC is a huge global brand with a huge international fan base that with success could help to attract international businesses and grow Chinese business through the means of partnerships and major advertising opportunities. China could become a major tourist attraction and help boost the Chinese economy. Soccer is a very popular sport in China and will also encourage local talent to become more involved in the sport.
3. LFC can set the standards for club management. According to various sources, the clubs that fall within FIFA, have drifted towards obscurity and under-performance at the management level. This campaign can demonstrate how to effectively manage an international club (from the relationship perspective) and how to keep the fans loving the club. This social media element will also show other clubs just how important the fans are to the world of sports and to the bottom line.
This social media campaign was a brilliant move for the club and the Government. The football club will acquire more fans and business relationships. Fans will talk online and create content while businesses will be starving to be affiliated with the popular club. Ideally, the government will consider launching other digital campaigns for social and economic purposes and will learn that this is an easy and efficient means of communicating with the people of their country.