Tell us a Story: How football clubs are using Instagram’s newest feature

23 August 2017, 13:08

With the new football season now well underway in the UK, teams across the country have turned their attentions to promoting the matchday experience.

As the newest social networking feature for this season, Instagram Stories has seen a lot of activity. In June the platform boasted over 250 million active users each and every day, easily surpassing Snapchat’s 166 million.

For an idea of how clubs are making use of the Stories feature I looked at examples from across the last weekend (19th and 20th August 2017).

Publicising matchday graphics

The Instagram Stories feed is live, and updated in chronological order. This makes it a much better place to post matchday graphics and ones with a shorter shelf life. The Instagram algorithm makes these types of updates redundant in the normal feed, as there’s no guarantee they’ll appear in the timeframe in which they’re relevant.

Going behind the scenes before kick off

As Bob Tait put it on a recent Digital Sports Insiders podcast: “On a matchday 99% of your audience can’t be with you”. Therefore clubs do their best to make fans part of the action, broadcasting parts of the players’ matchday experience that you don’t see on TV or from the stands.

Southampton’s approach to Stories involves branding up every post with the club’s #WeMarchOn hashtag, giving them a distinct style. Some clubs, such as Liverpool and West Ham do a good job of broadcasting live footage of warm-ups and players arriving at the stadium ahead of the game. And Bournemouth’s strategy involved speaking to fans outside the ground to get their thoughts on the upcoming match.

Announcing the line-ups

As mentioned previously, the Instagram feed isn’t necessarily the best place to publish line-up information as the algorithm could serve it to fans at a time when it’s useless. So Stories is again the go-to channel for these.

There’s a small degree of creativity from teams with the line-ups. Manchester United seem to have allowed for the top navigation and reduced their sizing accordingly, however Southampton and Norwich still had graphics behind Instagram’s overlay.

Southampton in particular have worked well with the space by being able to include the formation in their graphic without making the player names difficult to see. And extra marks for including shots of the players that include the club’s shirt sponsor.

The match itself

Broadcasting rights in the UK make it impossible for teams to show any of the on-pitch action during matchdays. Instead, teams rely on official photography to keep fans updated, with most posting updates during the game, footage of the players leaving the pitch at half time and full time, and periodic score updates.

Post match updates

Once the game’s over media teams are back covering events as they unfold. Liverpool did a great job of this at the weekend, handing control over to debutant Andy Robinson to get his thoughts on the match. Other updates include showing the managers and players delivering their post-match interviews.

With every single Premier League club currently having an official Instagram account, there’s no doubt we’ll see plenty of more creative approaches to matchday coverage as the season progresses.

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