Saturday, November 14, 2009

Facebook & Sports

For most Irish (and indeed French) people, there is only one thing to think about today - where will I watch the match? Of course if you were lucky enough to grab yourself a ticket to Croke Park your question is already answered, but what about the rest of us?

Perhaps Facebook is the answer?


Let me back track to late October. On the 22nd October, Nike did something really cool. They invited Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fàbregas to take over the Nike Facebook page for an interactive Q&A session with fans from around the world. For 90 minutes Cesc answered questions about Arsenal's Champions League match against AZ Alkmaar. The event also featured behind-the-scenes photos from the game that were posted to the Facebook page.

With 3 days to go before the event even took place, over 800 people had signed-up to participate, with a further 400 plus questions lined up for Cesc to answer. So even though Cesc is a Nike football ambassador and is regularly featured on TV spots and advertising campaigns (see the video below for the recent Total Control campaign), this was without question a new move for Nike and AKQA, who worked on the project for them.

But what does any of this have to do with today's World Cup Qualifier play-off between Ireland and France?

Well, as I said: Facebook.

Nike aren't the only brand to be pushing the boundary on what Facebook can do, and what it can provide for its users. Carlsberg are doing an A1 job on providing engagement and interactivity in a way that is absolutely brilliant.

For today's match, the Carlsberg Facebook Page is giving fans the ability to follow the match live, give their views and opinions through a live match chat and opinion polls, and give real-time reviews of each players performance through an interactive rating card. This is seriously cool, and aside from being a great example of what Facebook as a platform can do, this is a clear indication of how the public's viewing habits have changed in the last 12 to 24 months.

People crave interaction. No one wants to be a spectator, they want to be a participant. They want to share their opinion, become part of the event, and feel like they are actually involved. Social Media is allowing that. Social Media is giving everyone, everywhere, all the time, the ability to take part. In many ways it's the perfect tagline or brand ident - 'Take Part'. And lets face it, it's only going to get better.

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