SOCIAL MEDIA AND FOOTBALL UNVEILING; TREND & EVOLUTION

With the latest of quirky but interesting player unveiling coming from a supposed archaic, more appropriately traditional club in England as they announced the signing of the oldest English footballer to have graced the English league game arguably and still playing, it’s pretty safe to say the death of traditional player unveiling ceremony has been all but confirmed.

While clubs may have slowly ‘but eventually’ picked up on football fans want for a vibrant and engaging social media experience, there has been that commendable investment as they try to keep up with the insatiable needs of millions of fans.

Despite fans having the final say on what is cool, and not, as well as how best they would like to engage with their clubs on social media, nothing prepared them for the impending viral player unveiling method employed by elite clubs across Europe this summer.

Players unveiling has shifted overnight and too quickly from the typical — stand in front of a camera at the football training ground, shirt in hand, accompanied with a fake, strained or hearty smile as the case maybe, with the manager, hand at the back of the player, smiling away at his latest asset. Basically, it seems like there was a memo which went around from the FA to club’s digital media teams that a player with his jersey in hand standing close to any brandished club item they can find in sight will no longer cut it.

While no one ever deliberately demanded for something different, this new trend which only spluttered to life less than a year ago is well alive and breathing as more thoughts and considerations are being put in brain storming sessions of digital media handlers, in producing a buzz worthy appearance rivaling other clubs.

Southampton less than a week ago won the battle of the unveiling process at least for now, as their subtle jab at other clubs in a video further cemented their reputation for being audacious.

Arsenal teased Alexnder Lacazette unveiling and their puzzle-themed unveiling of their first summer signing Saed Kolasinac also didn’t go unnoticed.

Last week Roma unveiled Lorenzo Pellegrini by posting a video of the player using his Roma-kitted virtual self to score a virtual goal on Fifa in what is arguably the pick of the summer. Last month Liverpool published an illustrated video of a thumb scrolling through a Twitter stream of posts urging them to announce Mohamed Salah. A few days later the world learned that Crystal Palace had finally found a new manager when they posted footage of white smoke emerging, creepy-style, from the chimney of a little cafe.

It’s also very important to mention the role social media has played in the evolution of player unveilings; from Twitter to Instagram to Snapchat and even whatsapp, John Terry’s Aston Villa unveiling was done by showing a conversation on whatsapp, on Twitter correlatively employing the use of two social media platforms.

Going a bit under the radar is how clubs have subtly incorporated a brand perception to their social media engagements, interactions, fanfare and unveiling; Manchester United seem to have employed a camaraderie and friendly feel around their announcements as seen with Paul Pogba and Zlatan in their unveiling and just recently with Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, something which aim I believe is to illuminate a relaxed, friendly, spirited atmosphere eclipsing the supposed pensive environment accompanied with Jose Mourniho.

Clubs have always used the very latest communication technology to announce new signings, from the gathering of journalist to newspapers, to photographers, to social media and it’s interesting to see how much more the digital age can be explored as it offers so much that can be maximized through content and accurate use of platform for broadcast.

If any club stays basic and straight jacketed, it will be not as a result of principle but a lack of ideas especially with the trend of players unveiling set to get even more creative. Clubs certainly will be looking at avenues to make these sign in sessions more interactive to fans while commercializing the process as well.

Real Madrid have in the past succeeded with fan fare unveiling of their marquee signings, as seen with Kaka, James Rodriguez and Cristiano Ronaldo, with the former Manchester United man grossing the most figures for stadium attendance unveiling in history.

While it’s unconfirmed there were direct financial benefits for the club there is still a lot more to be tapped into with sold out stadiums, live streams, fireworks, a well clouted electronic dance music DJ, and couple of acts as fans enjoy a good summer day or one that rocks them into the night.

Almost easy to take dibs on the idea that clubs will throw it out to the fans to collaboratively come up with something for a new signing, something I expect to see before August 31st.

This certainly will bring the viral effect and peak engagement and whether or not this happens, I can assure you that a club is one move away from another genius unveiling, and one can say that after centuries of copy and paste jersey number brandishing and unveiling; any innovation is certainly welcomed.