Last week I came across an interesting infographic showing the Premier League table in terms of Facebook likes and Twitter followers.
As a Bolton Wanderers fan, I looked longingly at our Twitter league position and wished it were reality. But aside from this, there was one other stat in particular that caught my eye. During April, Bolton’s official Twitter stream saw the highest percentage increase in followers of all 20 clubs.
Admittedly, I am clutching at straws for any positives from this season, but I do think this statistic says a lot about both the way the club has handled its comms in recent months and the way the general public now chooses to find news and information.
I very much doubt that this rise in followers is purely coincidental; rather I think the growth has been driven by the club’s increased media profile following the highly publicised cardiac arrest of midfielder Fabrice Muamba in March, and the ongoing relegation battle. In the weeks following Muamba’s hospitalisation, Bolton issued official statements which were published immediately via Twitter – frequently before the traditional media were even able to type up an article, let alone publish it – allowing both fans and well-wishers to receive up-to-the-minute information.
With smartphones giving us constant access to networks like Twitter, disseminating information quickly has become easier and more important than ever. Increasingly, we hear of stories being broken first on Twitter, and criticism of traditional news sources for being slow on the uptake. In recent weeks, when a man caused a bomb scare on Tottenham Court Road, the news didn’t become a top story on the BBC website until two hours after it was first reported on Twitter.
In crisis situations, time really is of the essence, and when it comes to brands and organisations keeping up the conversation is vital. Twitter silence certainly does speak volumes, especially at a time when information and reassurance is required.
Obviously, in the rush to push out information it’s crucial that fact checking doesn’t get overlooked. But by offering any confirmed details with a promise of an update as soon as one becomes available, followers are reassured and know they have not been forgotten.
This leads me back to the infographic that started this post and one final thought. There is one glaring omission from the Twittersphere – Manchester United, one of the world’s biggest football clubs, still has no official Twitter account despite a major presence on Facebook.
Maybe the club feels its voice is represented – there are already numerous “official” Manchester United Twitter feeds. Maybe it feels that Facebook is enough. But whatever the reason, I’m convinced Man Utd is missing a trick.