Social Media in Sports: An Interview with Adam Hulme, QPR F.C.

Tuesday, 07 January 2014

Adam Hulme has been a Multi Media Officer with the Queens Park Rangers Football Club since August 2011, with a previous stint at Chesterfield F.C. for over two and a half years.  Following QPR’s win of Football Biz’s Best/Most Innovative use of Technology by Football Clubs Award in November, few are better placed to comment on the effectiveness social media and growing digital technologies than Adam.

1. How important are social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook for engaging with QPR’s fans?

Social media platforms are vitally important for engaging with our fan-base, both domestically and internationally. They’re great platforms for allowing constant two-way interaction and engagement.  We have over 230,00 likes on our Facebook page and over 150,000 followers on Twitter so we really have a great outreach to our fans.

2. Which Social network gets the most engagement for QPR?

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are the platforms that we encounter the most engagement from.

And if you could choose just one?

Difficult to say, as we (QPR) use them all differently.  It would be a toss-up between YouTube and Twitter, although Twitter would probably win, as I feel the video aspect of social media is very important and helps to capture the fans and players emotions better than just words.  Twitter is brilliant for helping us to personalize the brand and the players and really connect with the fans on a much more personal level.

3. You were part of the team that won the Best/Most Innovative use of Technology by Football Clubs at the Football Biz Awards this year.  How did Twitter help to make the #ForeverR’s campaign a success?

It wasn’t the sole reason but it was a factor in winning the award. It helped us to have conversations with supporters 247 and for us to learn from their Loftus Road experiences. It made it very easy for us to have instantaneous two-way conversations with fans from around the world and gave us some great fan generated content.

4. Do players need social media training for handling their accounts or are they fairly reliable?

We have put classes on for our U21s and U18s for the first time this season and they have been excellent in taking on the information and guidance we have offered them. Our first-team players are very reliable and we work much closer on a daily basis with them just to keep everything in check.  We work on an advisory basis rather than controlling the accounts. We treat them like responsible adults and the lads at QPR are a great bunch to deal with.

5. Your keep your online subscribers busy with online content such as QPR’s Player, how important is it for you to offer subscribers unique content such as this?

It’s important, as they are paying for a service that prides itself on exclusive content.

6. Obviously football has the biggest following across the country, but out of all the major sports, who do you think has the edge in social media?

I think some of the American sports do some great social media work, especially the NBA.

7. Like any sports team, QPR has to deal with both the highs and lows of the season, how do you celebrate the successes and deal with fans disappointment over social media?

It’s a fine balance, but the main rule is to not go too overboard when you’re winning, or be too quiet when you’re losing. The Championship season is a long and hard campaign and judging the mood of the fans is part and parcel to managing a sports clubs social media.

8. At points in the season such as the summer and January transfer window, fans expect constant communication from the club.  How do you use social media during these periods to give the fans the best experience possible?

Twitter is useful for providing a continuous stream of news and updates, but we do a lot more besides.  Take a look for yourselves, I think you’ll find some great content!

9. Social Media is a constantly evolving medium through which to communicate with fans.  How does the growing popularity of Snapchat and Vine effect your plans? Will you be looking to implement these new social platforms into your everyday marketing efforts?

We are very active on Vine and have been for a considerable amount of time. Snapchat is something we are currently looking into, although we won’t just sign up to a social media platform because everyone is doing it. We need to make sure it has value to our fans and QPR.

10. Do you have a listening strategy to see what people are saying about QPR?

We listen to all our comments on social media, it helps that we aren’t the likes of Man Utd and Arsenal, as we can easily track conversations and react to our fans if they have any questions or issues.

11. When using social media, do you directly engage with the fans even when unprompted? Or do you leave them to it until they directly communicate with you?

It’s a bit of both, as a press department we aim to keep fans up-to-date as much as possible so there isn’t the need for us to keep answering questions. But fans will always have questions and we are happy to answer them as best as we can as a club.

Keep your eyes peeled for further insights into social media practice amongst the greatest sports teams in the UK and beyond, as we will be releasing further interviews with leading figures in the digital sports industry in the near future.

To see our interview with Imogen Gaunt, Media and PR Manager for Harlequins R.F.C, click here.

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