Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Rugby League and Twitter

A new season and, two days in advance, a launch. The flagship no-money-down sponsorship with Stobart saw a convoy head up to Salford where those people in the media who aren't either in the UAE for the cricket, exhausted from transfer deadline day or covering the build up to a minor European international rugby union tournament could see what's on offer. Artificial pitches, rule tinkering, granting independence to the state of Exilia and Monday Night Football were all on the agenda.

Super League also tried to get to grips with Twitter. Chances are that if you're reading this, you're already au fait with it's charms. Super League aren't. They seek to instruct people on the use of hashtags, seemingly oblivious to many aspects. For a start, Bradford and Wigan chat will get lost among conversations between wearers of hairpieces and discourses on women's underwear. Good luck Dragons fans as you get lost among cats playing pianos. These things arise because people use them, not because people are instructed to use them. For example, Dragons fans have happily been using #lescatalans to discuss their team under and it's worked very well. It's unlikely that a well-paid marketing executive's word is going to change that.

We're also being instructed on tags for individual matches. All this is likely to achieve is the fragmentation of conversation. Super League have grossly over-estimated the popularity of the sport. There simply isn't that number to warrant dividing chat down into a number of several brackets per weekend and especially since the #rugbyleague - note the use of 'rugby' rather than 'super' as well there - has been around for some time and works well. It's inclusive and it's clear. #SLCasSal may look great in a marketing PowerPoint presentation, but to the casual observer, it is gobbledegook. It makes the game look cliquey in the extreme and won't help attract new fans to the game.

The best way to get onto Twitter is to observe what's happening and worm your way into that, not do away with established practice and impose arbitrary rules and standards onto people who have embraced and been using it for a lot longer than Super League seems to have done. So rise up, people! Eschew this frippery! Stick to #rugbyleague and let's all stick together rather than go our separate ways.

Now, what hashtag should I use to promote this article? Any ideas, Super League?

When manipulation of social media goes wrong.

McDonalds and Wendy's are just two major corporations to have fallen foul of manufactured hashtag promotions, as detailed in the Independent here.
Tottenham Hotspur's whizzy new website automatically included comments from their Facebook page with hilarious consequences as noted by Football 365 (second item).
Point is, Twitter doesn't obey your rules. It does it's own thing and one of it's things that it does well is subverting obvious marketing bullshittery.


TWD said...


Anonymous said...

Wow you love yourself

Michael said...

Totally agree, as I have been saying since last year when some self-appointed so-and-so started this horrid trend and somehow got journalists and the RFL to support it.

And while the RFL tell us use the, presumably Urdu god, of #slhkrsth you have League Express saying it should be just #hkrsth. And both of them both have picked #hfc for Hull FC, different to the abbreviation used onscreen by both BBC and Sky adding more confusion.

No doubt some stray 'versues' will make their way into the middle of those tags, given that is what other sports use.


Monday nights will be such a chore.

It took until the middle of 2010 for everyone to settle on #rugbyleague over various options. Around that a community formed that I have not seen in the fan base of any other sport and televised games being social events. This already seemed lost during the Sky games at the end of last season once the different permutations of match specific hashtags started to appear.