It may not sound like something your football club has at the top of your priority list. Let’s face it, cost is going to be a barrier for voluntary clubs and so is time adding content and updating it too. After all, just running your football team or club is almost an all year round effort as it is.
But these days, everyone has access to the Internet, from children through to adults. Even your local league will no doubt publish their fixtures, results and news updates as a bare minimum – so whether you like it or not, when you’re involved in running a grassroots football club, even just as a player or spectator, you’re already embracing online!
So we talked to a few grassroots club who has done exactly this and seen how it has really helped their club grow. We share this with you below.
Very few football clubs pay attention to promoting their club and making their website stand out. Yet a few hours invested in this can go a long way to getting your club noticed. So let’s look at 8 great reasons why you should make the effort with your website and social media (e.g., Facebook) and how you can go about it…
WHY SHOULD YOU PROMOTE YOUR CLUB ONLINE?
- It is your image and how your club looks to the whole world! Rival clubs & teams will be looking at your website and social media pages – everything from your match reports to your player profiles. A website that’s up to date shows you care, makes your club look attractive and helps ensure you get regular visitors to your site, whereas a site with old, out of date content, news or information can do more harm than good. So appoint someone to keep your website and your social media pages up to date. It only needs an hour or two a week during the season and it doesn’t need to be someone who is a web expert – just somebody who can regularly add news content, images, photos and relevant information to the site.
- It’s not just for players. Parents, friends, family, supporters (if you are lucky enough to have them), officials, your local rivals, the league(s) you play in, all look at your website. And don’t forget, some of those may even be potential sponsors or local businesses – even more reason to ensure your club website is kept up to date and engaging! Think of it as a stage to perform on and the more you rehearse (or practice), the more your club will get out of it!
- Spending time building up your website and social media can even help attract new players…yes it really can. Your website and Facebook page is your shop window. Unlike a club house or playing field, a website is actually really easy to keep up to date and looking shiny and new to create a good impression of your club. If your site is kept up to date, ensure you add photographs regularly, do write regular news updates, reports and ensure relevant contact information is readily available and up to date. Think of it another way – a new player moves into your area looking to play for a local team – first place they will look – your website and through social media. If it doesn’t look good or out of date – rest assured they will be looking at your local rivals instead!
- It can help you get funding and sponsors. Really? Absolutely. It’s rather like a TV show – the more interesting and entertaining your website is, the more it will attract (and keep) viewers or visitors. Likewise, the more content you have that keeps people engaged and interested, the more chance you have of bringing in sponsorship revenue – after all, businesses want to ensure they are seen in the right places by as many potential customers as possible – so think differently about your website. A good looking, well maintained and up to date website and Facebook page is a sure-fire way of bringing in much-needed potential purchasers for businesses. So in short, the more visits your website attracts, the better it is for potential sponsors – which in turn, is better for your club! And all is needed is just an hour or two a week.
- It keeps all the relevant information you need in one place – so keep it up to date!
- Leagues and county FA’s look at them too. Oh yes they do! If you are a charter standard football club – you can guarantee that your local county FA will be looking at your website. Same for your local leagues too and a good, regularly updated club website paints a positive picture for those looking at your club
- Don’t just rely on one person to post content. If you are a club with several teams, encourage your team managers, players, officials and parents to send you photos, news, event information and even match reports. You may need to edit some content, but it all helps build up your club profile and encourages more people to visit your site. And it saves your club administrator doing all the work too!
- Websites are NOT expensive – in fact they are completely free and there are good ones out there that are easy to use and cost nothing. We recommend Club Website (clubwebsite.co.uk) – who provide well over 20,000 website for clubs and teams across the UK. It is completely free, easy to use and a great way to give your club some identity, so if you haven’t got a website – get one! If you have got a website – look after it and remember!
HOW DO I PROMOTE MY CLUB ONLINE?
Follow these 4 simple steps. Remember, all you really need is someone within your club who you can rely on to manage the site and it’s content. A few hours a week is all it needs, but follow these simple steps to start with…
- Set up a Facebook page for your club. Social media within localised community or social groups is often the best and fastest ways to get people you want to see your content. Keep the group open to maximise your exposure – your friends and followers can share your content for you. Keep it clean though, avoid any contentious or controversial subjects and ensure you have someone within your club to manage the site and remove any controversial or abusive content. You can easily block anyone who posts content or comments you don’t want – it’s your social media page after all. To set up a Facebook page and invite your friends is simple, you just need to invest a little bit of time to create a nice looking page and someone who can post relevant topics regularly. For more information visit facebook.com
- Ensure you have an easy to use, low cost website. We recommend Club Website and you can find out more by clicking this link: clubwebsite.co.uk. Club Website provide a free to use website platform and they are pretty good – already supplying 20,000 clubs in the UK. Follow their simple instructions guide to create your new website
- Create a simple database of all your players, parents, officials – ensure you get their email address. Why? Well you can easily set up and create an e-newsletter – what better way to share news updates and content? There are plenty of free to use providers that can help you easily create, send and manage your e-newsletter. We recommend “MailChimp”. Simply go to mailchimp.com and follow their simple step by step process.
- Replicate the content you create across all three platforms (website, Facebook, e-newsletter). Not only will you get a consistent look and feel but you’ll have relevant content and visible across all three. This will help maximise the opportunity for those you want to see your content.
PROMOTING A GRASSROOTS CLUB ONLINE: A CASE STUDY – RISHTON UNITED FC
We spoke to a grassroots football club official responsible for their club’s website, email and social media content…
“I spend maybe an hour or two a week posting content on the website and our facebook page, sometimes even less than that. The work is usually done pre-season once we know all our team details for the following season – that may take a few more hours but for the rest of the season, it’s really just a case of posting up news updates, match report, photos – whatever our teams send us.
We have 21 teams in total and as a local community club, there’s always something going on – some event, match or news update, so I don’t have to go looking for it as people involved with the club often send things into me which means all I need to do is add (and sometimes edit) content before uploading it onto our website.
We get all types of visitors to our website – players like it because they see fixtures, results, photos and match reports…and parents too for our junior teams. When we don’t post content we see our visits drop, so we always post something on our site at least once a week, every week. We get local teams looking, as do the league and county FA official and also get regular requests from clubs outside the local area to play friendlies or tournaments, plus the local newspapers even use our site to trawl through any relevant news features.
I very much see our club website as our shop window. We don’t have a club-house or at the moment, even our own football ground, so how else are people going to find out about us? So it’s well worth investing a little bit of time and effort…and I get lots of comments about how our website looks, which is nice, especially as it doesn’t cost anything
As well as the website, we have a social media page on Facebook. Everything we add to our website we add to our Facebook page – it means that more people are likely to see content that is relevant to them. Better still, Facebook friends can share content, meaning more people can see our posts.
We’ve got a couple of local businesses on board with us and we promote them through our website and social media page. We also add them to our e-newsletter. Without doing this, it’s hard to attract sponsors so it’s a good way of helping them get exposure locally, so it works both ways.
Our e-newsletter goes out quarterly too. At the start of the season, we capture all the player, parent and supporters email addresses. We use a simple template and an email provider called MailChimp, for small sized local clubs like us it’s free and means we can regularly send emails to around 200 of our “members”. We get a really good open rate (over 65% read our e-newsletter) and we then duplicate the content on our website and facebook page – it means we have a nice, consistent identity and look across all our communications. Better still, our e-newsletter can easily be posted onto our Facebook page too, so it saves me quite a bit of time.
More recently, we wanted to promote the fact that we are wanting to set up a girls’ football team. We put the word out through our website, e-newsletter and Facebook page and within a couple of months, we were providing free coaching to girls in three local schools and are now in the process of setting up two girls teams! That shows how effective promoting your club online really can be!
About 4 years ago we used to produce a club magazine which we would then print and distribute to our members. It cost a small fortune, took ages to produce and was out of date by the time it had been printed, so a digital / online e-newsletter is far better and only takes an hour or two to put together and doesn’t cost us a penny. It also means our members, who pay £20 a month to cover the costs of their football matches / training / kits, etc., get something back too and helps them feel part of something.”