How Manchester City is using social media to stir passion

Social media can stir passion. Richard Ayers (a former BBC journalist) has worked for Manchester City and BFI (British Film Industry) recently and he has shared his experience running social media for both of these organisations at the usefulsocialmedia conference today.

BFI has been around for 100 years and is behind each and every film. But the organisation isn’t known at all. The passion though is overwhelming, be it for films or football. Richard showed how similarly – even though the two companies are very different – social media can be leveraged for both subjects.

How Manchester City is using social media to stir passion

How Manchester City is using social media to stir passion
How Manchester City is using social media to stir passion

Manchester City is an organisation which is ready to embed social media almost naturally Richard explained. They even chose the hashtag #together and it came naturally, as they asked children from school to share their feelings about the club in the “Manchester and me” project. And there is a “fascinating dynamic about connecting local and international”. TV formats were used (“inside city”) so that engagement between players in the tunnel were filmed and the videos were even 9 minutes long and retention rate was 90%.
“Of course we have a Facebook page, and an app and all sorts of things” but Richard said that it was mostly about “connecting online with the real”.  They even decided to build a community in Arabic (@cityarabia) and all that was required was to ask fans to run the service Richard added.
“Numbers shot up and there was no advertising” and “we did it via proper engagement and  not looking at the numbers” he concluded for that part. As to the nasty stuff surrounding football such as racism for instance, “we just don’t deal with that” Richard said “we are keeping away from that”.


The BFI is full of wonderful cultural artifacts, some dating from the late 19th century. Richard and his teams found a lot of remarkable material about Doctor Who and even pictures of the shooting from the Starwars film in the Tunisian desert … “and all that was sitting in a bunker!” This is an amazing thing and “this is only the tip of the iceberg” Richard added. Hitchcock was a British film-maker and one of his film is 39 steps so they used the 39 steps metaphor in “39 steps to Hitchcock”. We are at the beginning of  the journey “and we are cleaning up the pages now”.   “The BFI is non profit, but there must be a way that it can make money out of this incredible content” Richard said.
Richard showed us a lot of other examples from BFI but they all boil down to the fact that – even though the organisation isn’t known at all – the content that it has is immensely interesting and can be used to stir passion in the fans, be they football or film fans. What Richard hopes is that, by using the same method for BFI, the company will be known to all soon.

Yann Gourvennec
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