Going Digital

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When you think of local footy you think Saturday afternoon, catching up with mates, reasonably priced hot dogs and some very cold weather. Technology doesn’t come into it, but that is starting to change. The Caufield Bears from the Southern Football League are one of the few local football clubs that have put an emphasis on digital technology.

Why social media can be so beneficial for grass-root sport is that it’s free and to succeed all you need is somebody with a little technical know how and plenty of motivation. There is no reason why local footy clubs can’t have an online presence just like professional teams do, and Caufield has proved this. Not only is the team fantastic with social media, but the league’s President is on Twitter too.

When looking at Caufield’s approach to the internet and social media, what do they believe are key areas to succeed?

Steve Hewla has recently taken over management of Caufield’s website with a goal of offering new content on the website every other day. Apart from the news you expect to hear such as the weekly selected teams every Friday and then match reports every Monday after the game, he also includes player profiles, sponsor information, special offers as well as general news stories.

Steve recently set up the Bear’s Twitter account. What is so great about Twitter for local footy clubs is that they can push out the latest news as it’s happening. If there’s a team announcement on the Friday they can give a link directly to the club’s site, if there’s a team change it can be announced via Twitter on the Saturday before the game. The immediacy that Twitter offers the Bears’ fans and members is something that local footy has never had before.

It's all happening at Caufield!

Facebook Fan Page
The club’s fan page was only recently set up and is used to keep everyone informed about what’s happening with the Bears but to also to run competitions, polls and quizzes. Because Steve has an iPhone he can take pictures of training, pre/post game and other events on location and post to the page instantly, along with real time scores and anything else that takes his fancy.

They are always looking at ways to best promote their sponsors via the Facebook page with competitions and Facebook only specials. They are also looking forward to integrating some Facebook ‘like’ features onto the club website.

Facebook Group
The club has had a Facebook group few a few years now, which has been used for event invitations and direct messages to team members, which has been the main asset of the group. As you are not allowed to directly contact members of a Facebook fan page, Steve will continue to maintain the group page, even though they feel that the Facebook group is very much “out of sight, out of mind” when compared to the fan page.

Youtube Channel
The Bears have had a presence on YouTube for just under two years, and have had just under 15,000 total views for their videos. When they began, they focused mainly on football highlights, but quickly realised that the best responses they received were when players were interviewed and showed them making mistakes on the field or generally making a fool of themselves. When they started the channel most of the players, supporters and committee members were reluctant to participate, but now everyone expects a camera to be at the game and they all want to get their head on the internet!
They produce approximately 6-10 stand alone episodes per season, where match highlights, social events, sponsors and players interviews are all featured. This is without doubt the platform that takes up the most of their time, but they find it incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun!

The Future
For their current website they use a free template CMS system which they find every easy to add and edit content, but a bit limiting to where they would like to take the site in the future.  Steve has been trawling through Wordpress themes to find something that matches the vision of what the site should be, with opportunities for extra engagement and interaction with their community or supporters.

The overall strategy for all their platforms is to inform and engage the Caulfield Football Club community, and social media allows them to do that better than ever before. They also want to promote the benefits of participating in team sport, promote the club as well as the league it plays in, the Southern Football League, and social media is one of the most effective ways for them to achieve that.

Reprinted with permission from www.sportspiel.com.au which Anthony Alsop founded. He is also an IT consultant and is running Australia’s premier sport and social media event, the Digital Sport Summit.

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This is Our Game
2017 AFL International Cup