We as football fans don’t take kindly to owners, managers or players who we don’t think are leading our club in the right direction. And, as much power as the mainstream media has in influencing the mindset of the fans, we have to consider the role of social media in the fan-based mutinies that occur often within football. The beauty of social media is that each individual fan has the opportunity to influence others and display their opinion in some small way. What is more, one person’s gripe can take on a snowball effect and create a mob mentality within social media. Suddenly you’ve gone from some loner sitting in bed with your laptop to the catalyst for major debate and unrest. So what is it about social media that harbours such enormous power and how can we use it.
To consider that one in every three pages on the internet is a Facebook page goes some way to explaining the power of the organisation. Take Manchester united as an example; it says on Facebook that 20 million people are fans on Facebook alone. Then consider the fans ongoing battle with the Glazer family. What better way to indentify and reach 20 million fans than by simply going to the page and directing your arguments at fans that share your interests. Is there an easier way of finding likeminded people in such quantities than on a social media site that over 800 million people log on to and spend hours on almost every single day?
The beauty of blogs lies in the attitude of their readers. Initially you might stumble across a blog or be recommended one by a friend, but the likelihood is that you are a regular reader of any blog you might be on. What does this mean? That you think it is worth reading. And why do you think this? Because it is entertaining, you trust the writer and presume them to be some kind of authority. If you thought that they had nothing to offer you then you wouldn’t waste your time with that blog. All of this means that whilst you may not get millions of hits on your blog, although some do, all of your readers are ready and waiting to buy into any sort of opinions that you may ordain to present them with.
Obviously newspapers are an authority too but in a different sort of way. You expect newspapers to give you the facts, not original thinking about your club to go with the facts. Readers are more inclined to be inspired by somebody who cares about the things they do. That doesn’t mean they will always swallow what the blogger feeds them, but they will most of the time.
Twitter’s speciality, as anyone who ever uses it will know, is that it is arguably the fastest way to spread news. Unlike Facebook and blogs, which are perhaps either more pre-emptive or analytical of news, Twitter is the one to break the news. Trending opinions and arguments consume fans and spread ideas to more people faster than any other form of media. And the power they exert is very real. Footballers such as Thierry Henry have been forced off Twitter in the past because of abuse they have suffered at the hands of the masses. Twitter is both the indication of and vent for public opinion on all matters and football is no different.
Nobody is denying the power that the media has in influencing the opinion of the football world. An article written may spark huge debate, but that debate is carried out on social media. Furthermore social media can be used to organise demonstrations from social to sporting reasons. The lack of online accountability takes the power of the media that step further. Fans on social media have nothing to lose and the most radical ideas are more likely to originate and be debated in these spheres. The mainstream media will always have power but it’s about time people stopped blaming the media for mutinying fans and started taking part in the debate.
To take part in this and other debates follow Hamish on Twitter @H_Mackay
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