SD Eibar in Spain - Competing digitally
Picture this, Eibar vs. Real Madrid. Who would you bet on? Yet, they are on the same league and as they compete on-field, they also compete off-field, where the result is never as simple as it seems.
Let's put some context in: Eibar has a population of around 27.000, has a stadium capped at 7.000 seats and 11.000 stock owners. Their overall budget stands at 45million euros (as per Unai Artetxe, chief of communication) and they are in the same league of huge teams such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid to name a few. And in this league, they are considered the most transparent club for stockholder communications (100 points out of 100 from the Transparency Report for Football Clubs). As you can imagine, stockholders are their supporters.
Oh and I forgot to say, they are great on social media. How? Let's try to uncover a bit of their secrets:
Strategical planning: As we often say, every good effort on digitalizing is to have a purpose for doing it. The key questions are always the same: Why we want to do it? What we want to achieve? Eibar has understood this very well and has found a perfect reasoning for their social media and digital channels. As a matter of fact social media is part of a strategy that involves both traditional media and digital media, with the constant return of one fueling the other.
Digital for data: Measuring is the key word for any business. Gathering primary data and making sense of it, this is how the digital world proves to be beneficial for Eibar. Their social media is the perfect feedback platform to understand the opinion of their supporters. Being more technical here, social media proves to be a valuable source of both quantitative and qualitative data. For quantitative we mean the measurable bits, such as reactions (likes), shares, number of contents, increase in followers, etc.. Qualitative is the type of feedback that the club receives. More elaborate than solely numbers, these pieces of information are often found in comments.
Playing with your rivals: One of the most common mistakes I see when talking to clients is a passive management of their social media. This usually involves this kind of questions: How many posts should I do per week? What day should I post? What hashtags should I put? All these question are important from an operational perspective, and they are definitely an important part of social media, but the real benefit enticing growth is having an active role on social media. And most importantly, being actually social, interacting with other digital entities. Eibar is great doing this, as they do not only involve their team in their social effort, but they make sure that their club values are well received by other rivals team too, gaining the respect and appreciation of rival supporters.
Content variety: You would expect from a football team to only talk about football. And in this case you are both right and wrong at the same time. Obviously the main focus is football and most of the content will always revolve around football, however a greater variety of Eibar linked content, than spans beyond football itself, helps the football team touch on the wider social sphere. In the case of Eibar, they involve their charities, their educational courses, their efforts within the city and so on.
Club values, not players: This could be a very difficult one to relate with a traditional business, however it is a great point of reflection in my opinion, and is about the great focus that Eibar poses towards the club itself, rather than on players. This is because the club is the core of Eibar, and therefore it should be the main focus of promotion and discussion. While the permanence of a player in a given team is not given, the team itself will always stay there. This is why in their promotional efforts Eibar tends to prefer members of staff to players, for three main reasons. The volatility of a player's loyalty to the club, the necessity to promote Eibar as a cultural concept rather as a formation, and the closeness that members of staff have in relating to supporters (they are common people, not perceived as superheroes like players are).
Overall we can really see how Eibar is making a great effort in competing in the same league with colossal club, despite their relative small fanbase. Are they winning? Is very difficult to say. What we know is that the social communication efforts of the club have made a sponsor return of 450.000 € in 2018. Not bad at all.
Therefore, it doesn't matter how small you are, thanks to digitalization and social media efforts you are always able to compete, even with the biggest players. You just need a good and well-thought strategy.