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UNITED.docx

UNITED.docx

Dissertation presented for:

Dissertation presented by:

An Analysis of the Differences between Official and Unofficial Social Media Accounts of the Manchester United Football Club

Declaration of Dissertation

Except for those sources that are expressly acknowledged within the text, I certify that this is an original work written entirely by me and that it is free of plagiarism. I am aware of and understand the university’s policies and procedures regarding intellectual property violations and plagiarism.

Signature:

Date:

Acknowledgments

In the first place, I would want to say thank you to my dissertation supervisor for all of his help and guidance during the writing process. In addition, I would like to thank everyone who took the time to participate in my survey and interviews; the feedback I received was fantastic. As a final note, I would like to thank my family and friends for their steadfast support over the last several years.

Abstract

There is a lot of discussion in this dissertation on the impact of social media and the disparities between Manchester United’s official and illegal social media accounts. Examines the real-world consequences that social media has on society and how Manchester United may use this characteristic of social media to its benefit when it comes to news. While the arrest of Manchester United player Mason Greenwood is one example of the changes occurring in today’s news media, others include the steady decline of long-standing institutions like the national and regional press is also mentioned in this article. This study examines how people who have been personally impacted by the shifts in journalism see the results from the public poll and interviews with two media professionals.

Many people now rely on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to get their news instead of more conventional media channels like newspapers, which have played an important part in journalism for years. Combined with social media’s rapid expansion, journalists are no longer able to regulate the creation and distribution of sports news. Traditional news channels, such as broadcast television news and radio, are centralized and professional in tone and presentation, but social media is colloquial, fragmented, and casual. When journalism is supplanted by a low-quality substitute that fails to critique the powerful and effectively disseminate updates to the public, informality becomes a problem. Misinformation and distortion have been able to spread because of the sharing and commenting features on social media platforms as well as their lack of regulation, which in turn has harmed the way audiences view various sports teams and clubs, including Manchester United, as well as other sports organizations.

Table of Contents

Declaration of Dissertation……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2

Acknowledgments…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 3

Abstract………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4

1. Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7

2. Literature Review…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 10

3. Methodology…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 15

4. Analysis………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 20

4.1. The social media platforms that Manchester united uses……………………………………….. 21

4.2. The management of these accounts…………………………………………………………………….. 24

Facebook……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 24

Content…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 25

Twitter………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 26

Content…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 26

Google + (https://plus.google.com/)………………………………………………………………………….. 27

Instagram………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 28

Sina Weibo……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 28

4.3. Impact that social media accounts have had on the operation of the Manchester United team. 29

4.4. How the Manchester United team uses the social media accounts to protect its reputation against the agents of defamation………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 33

5. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 35

6. Bibliography………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 37

Introduction

People’s habits of information consumption have changed dramatically because of the proliferation of social media platforms and diverse mobile phone models. In today’s world, smartphones have become such a necessary item that many people get disoriented if they are removed from their devices. People are glued to these little displays, whether they are on public transportation or strolling down the street. They provide access to a variety of real-time information that is available at the push of a button.

The death of Floyd in 2020 and the demonstrations that followed, along with the rapid emergence of a coronavirus epidemic, brought home the huge influence that social media has on 21st-century news consumption. Both Black Lives Matter’s Don’t Go Viral campaign and the coronavirus pandemic’s Don’t Go Viral campaign include images that were shared on social media throughout the first half of their campaigns. Figure 1 and Figure 2 both feature images of some of the campaign posters that were used on social media to push the various messages. It was extensively circulated on social media during this pandemic time, as the distancing issue naturally becomes a very political topic due to the widespread nature of the virus. After a few hours, however, other alternative messages were made to Facebook by several identities, each of which explained how their various photographs had been staged to manage and eliminate the COVID-19 sickness. Because of their apparent genuineness and timely delivery of information, the postings seemed to be somewhat reliable. They even brought about the closing down of stadiums and public gatherings as another preventive as well as controlling measure.

A picture containing calendar  Description automatically generatedFigure 1

Graphical user interface  Description automatically generatedFigure 2

As a result of social media, not only has the news environment for viewers changed dramatically, but also the sports journalism profession as a whole, particularly the various clubs’ public relations that previously existed between the clubs and their fans, who are the main consumers of news that involve them. Only “traditional” media outlets like the BBC, ITV, and Sky News were able to cover games and club news like transfers and so on, such as print newspapers, radio, and linear broadcast television. The failure of the ‘hegemonic’ production-distribution paradigm, according to many scholars, has been attributed to the rise of social media platforms. Because of the open and interactive character of Twitter and Facebook, everyone could express themselves and offer opinions. Although this inclusion has brought about a variety of concerns, from the quick dissemination of disinformation to the ‘trolling’ of journalists, it has also brought about several problems. Because of their status as members of “the Fourth Estate,” reporters are being pushed farther and further away from their role as “the eyes and ears of the people.” During my adolescent years, I observed how social media evolved from basic locations to interact with friends and family to sophisticated realms that serve not just as news sources, but also as a source of socio-political impact for millions of people across the globe. Manchester United’s activities are an example of this.

There has been an increase in the percentage of people who “actively consume sports news on social media” from 2018’s study on adult news consumption in the United Kingdom (Ofcom, 2019). There has been a fall in the percentage of individuals who watch broadcast television for news, from 79 percent in 2018 to 75 percent in 2019. The impact of social media on news production and consumption will only grow in the future, which is why this area of study is so critical.

An initial literature analysis will be conducted as part of this dissertation, which will analyse numerous academic sources to explore the most important results and arguments on the social media platforms that Manchester United uses on modern sports journalistic practice and their news consumption. After that, I will break down the club’s management social media accounts. Information that was acquired through obtaining some primary data. The results will be examined in detail in the analysis, and the conclusion will offer a summary of what has been revealed. The overarching purpose is to evaluate how social media has influenced sports news creation and consumption, especially football news while using Manchester United as a case study. It will discuss the ramifications of the social media use for the club’s business as well as for the broader public in critical areas of the club’s operation and life such as the making of important decisions.

1. Literature Review

For a brand, one of the most crucial things is to engage with its customers. Because of the existence of a connection between a brand and its consumers, which is established via a two-way communication process, engagement is generated. This communication may be carried out via the use of social media, particularly Instagram. The information provided by the brand is intended to grab the attention of its target audience. If the consumers are interested, they will provide feedback in the form of likes, comments, or shares on social media platforms. A social media manager must be able to create visually appealing material and have a plan for distributing that information. With a focus on football, this study seeks to define the role of a social media manager. The first stage is to select which clubs will be picked as study subjects based on the number of people who follow them on Twitter. The next step is to classify the different types of material that each club has in common. The next phase is to monitor engagement and critique a plan developed by each club for disseminating their content. According to the findings of this research, Manchester United distributes all types of content, has better engagement than other clubs, finds players’ contract material to be the most interesting content, and has a strategy for sharing content that differs from that of other clubs.

The process of selling is, without a doubt, critical for a brand. However, there is one element to which marketers must pay close attention, and that is the connection they have with consumers. One of the measures that a brand can take in developing and maintaining a connection with consumers is to give content that is intended to capture the attention of the target audience. A successful connection between a brand and its consumers is built based on two-way communication. Along with providing information, the firm also collects input from its consumers via social media channels. The term “engagement” refers to the connection that exists between a brand and its consumers. Engagement is established as a result of positive engagement between a brand and consumers who are interested in that brand (Falls, 2012). Consumers’ engagement with a brand is defined as an emotional link between the brand and its customers (Carter, 2015). Engagement may be defined as communication between a brand and its consumers in a straightforward manner. Customers are paying close attention to the information provided in this case. Consumers gain not just loyalty, but also provide feedback to the business because of the interaction between the company and its customers. Engagement is very vital for any company, and this is no exception. Social media is one of the channels that can be utilized by a football club, such as Manchester United to interact with its consumers to increase customer engagement. Social media is a digital medium or website that connects individuals while also allowing them to share information (McCarthy, 2014). Information, knowledge, and opinion are shared via social media, which is a term that refers to actions carried out by individuals online to exchange information, knowledge, and opinion (Kuzma, 2014). After looking at several social media terminologies, it is possible to conclude that social media is a kind of media that is used to exchange information online and is used by people to communicate with one another. When it comes to managing the social media accounts of a company, the position of social media manager is critical. An organization’s social media manager attempts to create a sequence of actions for the delivery of information via social media that are anticipated to be accepted by and attract the attention of its consumers. The ability to manage and share material on social media is essential for the social media manager. As a business, you can use Instagram to connect with customers and boost sales. People are drawn to Instagram because of the visuals it presents, such as photographs and video clips. Visuals are significantly more appealing than text-only features (Prastya, 2020). For instance, the picture (Figure 3) below gives the fans, including the young lad in front of the post a sense of the history and culture of the Manchester United club of winning and having amazing players such as Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs seen in the poster.

Figure 3

When it comes to delivering content via social media, the presence of followers is another key factor to consider. When it comes to sharing information, the number of followers will have an impact. Sporting events such as football, for which social media is employed as a communication tool, are examples of how social media is being used. The emotional connection between a football team and its supporters has long been established. The football club will make every effort to preserve the connection and to provide the best possible service to them. The most important thing is to get the greatest possible outcome on the field. However, there is also the subject of what happens off the field to consider. The use of social media is an activity that football teams engage in while they are not playing on the pitch. In this activity, the football team interacts with the fan interaction in the same manner as it engages with the media. Every club has its unique manner of interacting with its members on social media, particularly Instagram. When a football team releases information, the supporters will respond. This may be seen as a representation of the level of involvement between a football team and its supporters. A variety of different types of material is delivered by each club on Instagram to increase interaction with their supporters. Each club also has a plan in place for managing each piece of content that is supposed to pique the fans’ interest. This is the context in which this research is taking place. The connection that develops between a football team and its supporters becomes vital to increase involvement. Fans may also contribute by requesting that others pay attention to their team. As a result, the social media manager of a football club attempts to manage social media, particularly Instagram, to build engagement with its fans by sharing various types of content that are related to the club’s condition on and off the field, while also developing a strategy for managing each piece of content. Because a good piece of content will be able to elicit an action from its readers, and a strong strategy for managing each piece of content will have an impact on the rise in followers, which will have an impact on the speed with which information spreads.

This club does an excellent job of providing information about their match outcomes. It is their regular practice to deliver a visual picture in the form of photographs. The colours red and orange are used to represent their club’s identity in the photograph. Manchester United’s players’ names and scores are also included, along with a list of the teams that played and a link to a picture gallery of the players from that year’s competition. The match results, on the other hand, are briefly described in the caption. The full-time results will surely be sent to the club. However, half-time results are not always available. A half-time result of the match will be made public if the team is victorious. Half-time results are distinct from full-time results when it comes to their content (McCarthy, 2009). The club displays photographs of the players with a description that includes the players’ scores as well as an explanation of the goals scored. In the case of Manchester United, the caption read “HT: Bournemouth 0 #MUFC 1 @juanmatagarcia gives us the lead.” On August 14, 2016, the team was playing against Bournemouth. The outcome of the game was important not just for the main squad, but also for the young team as a whole. To enlighten its followers about the young squad, Manchester United is distributing information to them. The development of a football club’s youth squad is a critical component of the club’s overall success. Manchester United had come to terms with it. A large number of players from the young squad have achieved success. Take, for example, the outcome of a team match played on September 20th, 2016 in California. Manchester United’s reserve squad defeated Manchester City in a friendly match. There is a distinct difference between the match results of the reserve team and those of the main squad. To keep the players informed, this squad posts photos and information during the game. Scott McTominay scored twice in the Reserves’ 3-2 win against Derby on that particular night at Old Trafford, as the caption suggested.

If it was previously discussed that the content of the game describes the circumstance that occurred during the match, then the kind of post-match content may be the same as the type of material that occurred during the match. Following the outcome of the game, the club will provide material. A club’s content will alter depending on whether it wins, draws, or loses a match. In this investigation, no draw for Manchester United was discovered throughout the period provided. If the statistics show that Manchester United has a high number of victories, the club will provide more material since the fans are feeling enthusiastic and joyful because Manchester United has won. Not only did the club celebrate after the game, but they also spoke about their triumph a few days afterwards. Take, for example, the match between Manchester United and Hull City on August 28, 2016. When Manchester United won by a single goal. They have won the game, as shown by their victory at the end of the game. This ecstatic experience instils in their supporters a sense of pride in their beloved team. Furthermore, Manchester United is a club that is synonymous with the triumph that was achieved after the game, which has been referred to as “Fergie’s time” in certain circles. This nickname was given to the team because the former coach, Alex Ferguson, was often victorious in the last minutes of a match. The club serves six different contents on the same day. This post-match footage depicts the moment of the goal, while also portraying the excitement of the stadium environment and the euphoria of the fans after the game has ended. Even after the game had ended on September 29th, 2016, pre-match information was still accessible for those supporters who were still celebrating their victory. To put it another way: If you have just lost a game, you will get a lot less information from the team than if you had won. For instance, the club was defeated 1-2 by Manchester City on September 10th, 2016. There was no post-match material provided by the club because of the negative emotions that the fans are experiencing as a result of the poor outcomes.

1. Methodology

This chapter offers an overview of the activities that were undertaken to collect primary data that would be used to address the research question. I will use Stuart Hall’s encoding or decoding paradigm in my study since it is relevant to my project’s focus on audiences. A substantial shift in the media landscape has occurred since Hall published his theory of mass communication based on television in science in the 1970s, thanks to technological advances that have completely altered the news scene (Fenton, 2018). Even though social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter continue to create, distribute, and evaluate sports news, the model’s essential assumptions may still be utilized in a contemporary context. Encoders and decoders, as well as social and professional context, must all be taken into account in this study, as well as the previously mentioned three potential interpretations of messages: dominant, negotiated and oppositional.

Primary research was undertaken to utilise a triangulation technique to provide a full understanding of the diverse viewpoints of sports media professionals and the general public. The triangulation approach consisted of one survey and two interviews, and the results were analysed. The use of two or more research methodologies, according to Stokes, allows for the development of “a more textured knowledge of your topic of investigation”. Using the survey, we were able to uncover trends, while the interviews gave comprehensive comments from football media experts with years of experience working in the area of sports journalism themselves.

Surveys are the most effective research approach for gathering information from a large number of individuals who have varying viewpoints on the same issue (Stokes, 2013). Surveys may be used to assess current public opinion because they “give a picture of how things are at the particular moment at which the data is obtained” (Denscombe, 2007). Because I had access to people from a wide range of races and backgrounds, I decided to conduct the poll online using Google Forms and disseminate it on Facebook. Participants were free to complete the survey at a time that was convenient for them. Participants may answer each question with their intuition rather than wasting time thinking about delivering the “right” response since multiple-choice questions are intuitive. Participants may be put off by long questions that require a lot of work from them.

The survey consisted of questions that were tailored to frequent themes that were important to my study subject and were not general. Participants selected an answer from a present selection of replies for each question that best represented their own opinions on the subject matter. Participants were given the option to offer an alternative response to several questions in the “other” box if they thought their point of view was not reflected in the alternatives presented. In the long run, this proved to be a drawback. The results of the poll were influenced by a few instances of incorrect use of the phrase. As an example, a survey question asked participants to choose the social media site they use the most often to stay up to date on the newest football developments. One person entered “Flashscore App” in the ‘other’ box, although “Flashscore App” is the mobile edition of the free live score and results from service, which is available online. The app does not have the same qualities that distinguish social media from other forms of communication – primarily the interactive and networked structure.

The participants’ identities were not necessary to maintain anonymity; nevertheless, three preliminary questions were asked to gather information on their age, educational background, and geographic area, which are all significant for the study. People react and interpret media messages in various ways, according to Hall (1973), and their responses and decoding fluctuate depending on their socioeconomic condition. The results, as discussed in the literature review, imply that there are other elements at play than previously thought. Other factors, on the other hand, were not taken into consideration. Due to time constraints, I was only able to compare a few specific characteristics of the club. I should have added some more questions to allow for more comprehensive comparisons of the official and unofficial social media accounts.

Different interviews with football media experts were scheduled for qualitative study. I did some preliminary research online to determine who would be the most ideal participants, and then I wrote to each of them personally to explain my study subject and ask for their participation. I assessed the reality of the situation, such as whether or not I would be able to meet with them or get a response from them. Availability, geographic location, and job title were taken into consideration. For example, arranging an interview with the editor of a newspaper dealing with football news on a weekend would have been quite difficult owing to the enormous amount of work and obligations they had.

The first interview took place with James Dunn, who works as the Head of social media and Audience for football tabloids, among other publications. For the first time in more than a decade, it was fascinating to hear the perspective of a sportswriter working in a position established particularly to manage his newspaper’s social media presence in the sports sector (Harrolle, 2020). Football-related breaking news items, in particular, are increasingly being reported and consumed via social media. Due to scheduling restrictions and other time restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, we were unable to meet in person with James Dunn for this interview. Instead, we conducted it via Zoom, which is a video conferencing software program. It did not take long for me to obtain the responses needed via this system of communication since it is almost instantaneous. This resulted in fewer delays in the dissertation writing process. After all, I could begin my analysis because I had the data. When it came to the second interview, was conducted face-to-face with Joe O’Brien, a sports journalism instructor at a certain university, which he preferred not to mention due to anonymity concerns he had.

Because I knew in advance what I wanted to cover in each interview, I was able to pre-plan my questions and have them ready to go. To accommodate the use of my organizational skills in the video conferencing form of communication, I had a list of questions that was completely organized in terms of design. As a result, the interview’s breadth was not restricted since there were some options for fast follow-up questions to elaborate on some of the more fascinating topics raised throughout the interview. Several responses did not provide me with as much information as I had anticipated, but I was still unable to comment on them. As a result, I was aware of the power dynamics that might arise during interviews, which I attempted to avoid. They had complete control over what they spoke about and revealed in answers to the questions they were asked. They also had complete control over how much detail and information they chose to share with the public. In particular, this is true when sports journalists, or rather all journalists when speaking about the media organizations for which they work or have worked.

The semi-structured questions that were compiled for the face-to-face interview were used to guide the conversation. I wanted the interviewee to be able to “explore thoughts and talk more broadly on the concerns highlighted” by responding without limits and deviating from the script. In contrast to the video conferencing interview, I was able to elaborate on several topics and obtain extensive responses. It was recorded on my cell phone and transcribed afterwards for additional analysis. The face-to-face interview lasted thirty-five minutes and forty-eight seconds and lasted twenty-seven minutes and thirty-eight seconds over the phone.

Because the survey and interview questions were neither invasive nor unduly personal in their tone, no one was offended by the material. Before participating in the experiment, participants were required to read and sign a consent form that stated the study title and purpose. Participants were also advised that they might withdraw from the study at any moment without having to provide a good explanation on the registration form. However, because the survey was conducted online, it was not possible to ask participants to complete a consent form. It was thus necessary to provide them with a summary of the survey’s most relevant facts, such as confidentiality, minimum age requirements (18 years), and the possibility that their replies would be included in this dissertation.

1. Analysis

By posting, commenting on, sharing and liking information on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, both the platform’s authors and its users contribute to the active engagement promoted by these actions. Because of this innocuous practice, numerous significant issues have arisen, especially in connection with the proliferation of social media as a news source, which is discussed more below. It is becoming more apparent that the online world is permeating the ‘offline’ world, with real-world implications on critical sectors of public life that need careful reporting, such as democratic institutions. The most prominent source of worry seems to be the way social media may impact how people perceive the world. A feeling of heightened uncertainty surrounds the long-term effect that the shift away from ‘conventional’ news sources to social media platforms will have on society as a whole as more people abandon ‘traditional’ news channels for social media platforms. In the absence of “centralized institutional foundations of the Fourth Estate” (Newman, Dutton, and Blank, 2012), the critical question of whether social media can fulfil the same journalistic functions as traditional media, particularly in terms of effectively informing the public, remains a contentious issue.

Social media, according to Kruse, Norris, and Flinchum, can “revitalize” the economy, including the sports business (Kruse, Norris and Flinchum, 2018). Habermas’ idea of the public sphere, which he describes as an “essential aspect of deliberative democracies” (2018) in which rational discourse may take place, is described as follows: In practice, however, this is not always the case, as this chapter will demonstrate. According to Bruns (2018), the “gradual fragmentation of the core public sphere into a series of increasingly more diversified publics” has been prompted by the reduction in the usage of conventional news channels and the rising digitization of mass media. In subsequent years, Habermas revised his public sphere theory to include the idea that “public views are impacted by ordinary discussion in the informal settings or episodic publics,” which he acknowledged as a result of this fragmentation. Key ideas such as “producers,” “filter bubbles,” “the erosion of the gatekeeper model” all contribute considerably to fragmentation, especially in the football world, which results in the present issues that sports journalists and viewers are now facing This chapter examines how social media has impacted current sports journalism and news consumption via the lens of the Manchester United social media circle, which I acquired through interviews with two media professionals and a public poll. The findings of this chapter will be based on the findings of the literature review.

4.1. The social media platforms that Manchester united use.

In addition to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ accounts, Manchester United has a sizable following on each of these platforms. However, it is important to note that they did not get to where they are today by sipping on a cup of coffee. They have come a long way since they first started (Williams, 2014). Manchester United has surpassed all other Premier League teams in social media popularity, according to a recent study. The results of a study looked at the verified social media accounts of each football team competing in this season’s Premier League to determine which club had the most followers on social media platforms.

Each team’s total number of followers across all social media platforms (TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) was factored into the research. With a combined following of more than 171 million followers across various platforms, Manchester United is the most followed Premier League team on social media, according to the findings of the research. A staggering 76 million Facebook fans follow Manchester United, the world’s most popular football team, more than any other club’s total social media following (Hamil, 2008). Additionally, the club has the most amount of Instagram followers, with 54 million followers, making it the most followed club on the platform. Cristiano Ronaldo, the forward for Manchester United, is also the most followed person on Instagram, having more than 400 million followers at the time of writing.

Manchester United, or the Red Devils as they are known across the globe, have accomplished what other teams can only dream of. Companies may use social media to not only create dialogue but to also increase their brand’s exposure. Manchester United is an excellent example of this (Hill, 2006). Apart from being one of the most successful and well-liked teams in football, Manchester United Red Devils have a worldwide fan base. Manchester United’s social media following was just the third highest in the world last year, although the club claims to be the most popular in the world of sport. Particularly on TikTok, where the Red Devils have just 1.2 million followers as of 2020, there is room for improvement there.

It would be difficult to argue with the fact that Manchester United has supporters all around the globe. However, the fact that it has a worldwide following of 659 million people – out of a total of five billion adults around the globe – is still rather astounding. It is important to note that this is not simply a random number pulled out of thin air. When Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge of the club, the Red Devils used to be the dominant force in both England and Europe. Liverpool won the Champions League and the Premier League in the previous season, making them the second-most successful club in England after the previous season’s victory (Szymanski, 1998). Manchester United has had difficult times recently, but the club’s supporters have chosen to remain loyal to their team. Manchester United is the most popular team in the world, with over 73 million Facebook followers, making it the most followed. Chelsea is a close second, with a fan base of over 70 million. Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool each have about 20 million fans, whereas the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Cubs, and Miami Heat each have fewer than 5 million supporters.

Social media has evolved into something like Google in recent years, becoming something that many cannot live without. With the help of social media, firms from a variety of sectors have been able to continue to grow their brands. However, football teams have not yet been left out in the cold. For Manchester United or the Red Devils, as they are lovingly known, this is the case. Companies may use social media to not only create dialogue but to also increase their brand’s exposure. Manchester United is a shining example of this Apart from being one of the most successful and well-liked teams in football, Manchester United Red Devils have a worldwide fan base. The club has amassed a following base of more than 659 million people since becoming an internationally recognized professional sports brand.

At the time, it is believed that the club’s website was visited by 47 million people, indicating its prominence as a brand. As of this writing, the club’s website is the most popular in terms of traffic around the globe, beating out the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool. An average of 8.5 million people visit the company’s website each month. The website of the worldwide company is accessible in seven different languages to better serve its international customer base. All of this is being done to appeal to the interests and preferences of their followers all around the globe. And it is one of the many reasons why Manchester United have been successful in developing an internationally recognized brand that can be found both online and offline

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4.2. The management of these accounts.

Facebook

More than 73 million people have liked Manchester United’s Facebook page and over 71 million have followed it, according to the club (Hamil, 2007). This makes other businesses seem little in comparison to the number of followers they have amassed over time. Despite their success, Real Madrid and Barcelona FC have outperformed Manchester United in terms of Facebook page likes, with 104 million and 102 million likes, respectively, for their respective clubs’ official pages. The Red Devils’ Facebook page receives between 10 – and 15 new postings every day. Depending on the topic published, their postings might get more than 500 shares and comments on social media platforms. Manchester takes advantage of its enormous number of followers and uses it to generate a great deal of interaction.

Nearly every marketer struggles to come up with a strategy for making their content more fascinating and engaging. When it comes to sports, the story takes on a whole other angle. The fact that it is a sport that people like watching has already gotten them excited. As a result, the weight of responding to all of the feedback and remarks from enthused fans and supporters falls on the shoulders of the team. A similar situation exists in the case of Manchester United. They seldom react to the comments left by their followers. A possible reason for this is the enormous amount of comments they get from their fans, even if we are unable to pinpoint the actual source. Football fans, after all, are always ready to chime in. It does not matter whether the team has a losing record, if the transfer window is closed, or if the players have had a poor season (Shaw, 2007).

Content

Their Facebook page has a wide range of content, all of which is related to the game of football. One very effective example is how they announced the release of their 2017/18 uniform. Fans may win a signed third shirt and a whole wardrobe in their size, among other great prizes, from the team. The post received over 8,000 reactions in less than an hour, including “likes”, “loves” and “wows,” in addition to more than 50 comments and shares. Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram rely heavily on visual material when it comes to this demographic. Visual material is becoming more popular on social media platforms. The team’s actions are not interesting enough to warrant a lengthy and dull blog entry. In addition, you will be able to grow your fan base by keeping your audience on Facebook and not diverting them elsewhere.

To capitalize on this opportunity, they have been providing short video snippets, whether it’s about the acquisition of new players, a glimpse at practice, or an overall update on the team. With more than 90,000 views on YouTube, it shows that its videos are more appealing to its audience and well-received by supporters (Poulton, 2017). To show how well they are using their followers to market their sponsors’ companies to their supporters, they often post sponsored content on Facebook. To ensure that their sponsor’s “well never runs dry” in terms of sponsorship, this is a clear illustration of how the brand generates revenue for them.

Twitter

There is an 18-minute average lifetime for a tweet. Using Twitter correctly may provide amazing benefits for any business. One hundred and twenty thousand followers in its first month of operation in 2013 has grown to more than 12.1 million as of this writing. Because they only follow 106 accounts, it is a little ironic. When they first began using Twitter, they made use of hashtags that were associated with the majority of their main players to better interact with their fans. Even though Manchester United was a little late to the Twitter party, they did so with a plan that has seen their followership grow day in and day out since its inception.

As with Facebook, none of their postings is sent out through Twitter unless they are accompanied by a picture or a short video. As mentioned, the successful use of visual imagery is done by the club’s social media team. Yes, they are continuing to grow their brand in this manner. With 24.4 million and 21.1 million social media followers, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona continue to exceed them despite their massive fan bases (Tsordia, 2021). Their English-language Twitter account is only one of ten that they run in ten different languages to better meet the needs of their global audience, which includes people in the United States. As a whole, the Club’s internet presence has been greatly aided by Twitter, especially in the last several years. It has provided them with a chance to communicate with their followers more innovatively. Despite this, they do not reply to their supporters.

Content

The adage “content is king” holds for every organization, regardless of its sector or industry. These are the regulations that Manchester United adheres to daily, and the club serves as an excellent example. They tweet around 10 times every day. Other businesses might take a page out of their book by copying their usage of hashtags to spread their message. They have become known for using the hashtag #MUFC, which stands for Manchester United in its entirety. There are a lot of tweets with this hashtag in them, which helps to spark conversation. They use a novel method for Twitter content creation that is both entertaining and educational. There is no better place to begin your quest for information on your team’s players than their TL, which serves as a great starting point.

Google + (https://plus.google.com/)

In a way, their arrival on Google+ is rather enticing. For a sample of what you may anticipate, check out their G+ website, which has a comprehensive history of the Club and several photographs. Even if the Club is unable to respond to all of its followers due to scalability issues on its website, its six million Google+ followers will ensure that their supporters never run out of ways to contact and participate with their beloved team. Their posts on Google+ are the same as those on their other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Visually engaging content with a high concentration of images. All of that Google + traffic can be easily sent to their website since they have their website link posted on their account. This may be done in addition to the website itself so that search engine results pages (SERPs) for both mobile and desktop devices can be optimized for the rich content and position that Google++ provides.

Instagram

Instagram was owned by Facebook. Another of Manchester United’s social media outlets is Instagram to maximize the internet’s resources. As a more visual network than either Facebook or Twitter, Instagram still offers plenty of opportunities for the Club to interact with its followers. Their Instagram account now boasts 18.4 million followers and has more than 6,500 posts to its credit. On their Instagram account, they make extensive use of crisp photographs and short videos, which is noticeable. Their use of pictures to generate material that is both visually attractive and engaging has no bounds, ranging from locker room photographs of their players’ hanging jerseys to cheerleader photos to stadium photos of their supporters at the stadium. As their fan base continues to develop, so does the Manchester United brand, which is growing in tandem with it.

Sina Weibo

With a view to better serving, its fans in China, Manchester United Club has set up shop on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site. A clear signal was sent when they initially appeared on Sina Weibo: that they were planning a global expansion strategy. In addition, Manchester United is often regarded as one of China’s most popular soccer teams. Unlike other teams, they have an enormous following on Sina Weibo, where their posts are written in Chinese and get a significant lot of feedback. There is just one distinction between what people post on Sina Weibo and what they post on other social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, Google+, and Instagram, and that’s the language. Nonetheless, it is aimed at the right demographic, one that has a strong affinity for Manchester as a whole.

Sina Weibo, where they post in Chinese and receive a lot of responses, is where they have a big following, and it’s something that other teams can only hope for. Sina Weibo content and images are almost identical to those on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram; the main difference is that the content is written in Chinese rather than English on these social networking platforms. Manchester’s brand continues to resonate with its intended target population, as seen by this campaign. Marketing and digital gurus should follow Manchester United’s lead and provide their fans with what they want via social media, as shown by their usage of various social media channels. Regardless of your sector, improving the methods by which people connect with your brand may aid in the online development of your company’s brand. Before launching a social media campaign, focus on building your brand and gaining a following on the channels you’re most familiar with.

4.3. Impact that social media accounts have had on the operation of the Manchester United team.

According to the most recent Deloitte Football Money League study, the club’s commercial operation is the most successful among European football teams in terms of revenue. The club made €363.8 million in commercial income, accounting for 53 per cent of its overall revenue. Along with income, another factor considered by Deloitte was the number of followers on the club’s most popular social media profiles, which include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, among others. Manchester United finished in the third position on all three of the platforms. While social media has emerged as the most popular platform for teams to interact with their supporters, it seems that the pioneer of online interaction has been overlooked. Football is a business, regardless of whether you like it or not. Some may argue that this is detrimental to the interests of supporters.

It is common for business individuals to purchase sports teams, and the choices they make, such as adjustments to ticket pricing or match sites, do not always sit well with the fans. It is often believed that club owners are more concerned with the team being financially profitable than with the team being competitive. Supporters think that the money they spend on tickets benefits the team, and they want their views to be taken into account by the team’s owners when they make decisions regarding them (Ahmed, 2015).

In Germany, supporters have a 51 per cent ownership in a team, known as the 50+1 rule, and as a result, have a stronger voice in the choices made by the club. This was one of the reasons why German clubs did not participate in the European Super League, which has since been discontinued (ESL). Manchester United supporters also banded together to prevent the formation of the ESL by being very vocal in their opposition to it on social media.

As a result, the ESL serves as an excellent illustration of the influence of social media in football. Football fans all across the world are benefiting from the growth of social media, which has spawned several useful professions. YouTube is the most important medium for content producers to establish a name and a following for their work. For example, practically all of the clubs in the English Premier League, if not all of them, as well as other teams, have their own YouTube feeds at the moment. These channels are often referred to by their official club names, as is the case with Manchester United, whose channel is also referred to as Manchester United. Some football-related YouTube channels have millions of subscribers. These content providers generate daily material or weekly programs, and they have the clout to get interviews with well-known players or coaches, among others.

This is done on a full-time basis on these channels, and some of them have an almost cult following. Rather than watching conventional television programs, for many, they are the first place they go to find out about the newest football news. Although Instagram’s approach is more to the point than YouTube’s, with stories and short films or photographs being used, it has also spawned a large number of employment and prospects in this industry. Some Instagram profiles have tens of thousands of thousands of followers. One account, 433, even has its own awards presentation, which is held annually.

People often will face fierce competition when building their social media accounts, but with determination and hard effort, they will be able to build a solid reputation and amass a respectable number of followers. The options are almost limitless. The world of football has seen tremendous transformations throughout the years. The rise of social media has marked a significant shift, both for the better and for the worst. On the other side, the level of internet hatred directed against players and coaches is one of the most concerning features (this happens everywhere, not just in football).

Using the anonymity of the internet, individuals can say things they wouldn’t say in real life. Because of this, the consequences of their sloppy use of language are very limited or non-existent. However, social media has also provided a wealth of opportunities for football fans to make a profession out of it, as well as a platform for supporters to express their views on their favorite teams. At a time like this, when stadiums throughout the world have been entirely deserted due to a virus, this is very important. We are just now beginning to see supporters being permitted to see their teams in person again, so perhaps we will be able to return to normalcy very soon.

Social media is not for everyone, especially because of the time demands it takes to stand out in such a market with millions of channels slugging it out to reach the top. Nevertheless, it is possible to succeed, and not only can one be independent, but most significantly, individuals are working while doing what they love. It has the potential to be financially profitable. Social media is transforming the way sports stars, clubs and fans are communicating with one another. From live-tweeting games, producing caustic memes and cheering from the virtual realm, viewers are no longer just watching sport, and they can frequently obtain news, insights and opinion right from the source. Singaporean pundit Walter Lim argues that social media and sport are ‘a combination made in heaven. The quick, personal and participatory characteristics of social and mobile technologies give them great platforms to feed our sports impulses.

While fans have resorted to social media to convey their passion for sport, some athletic teams and players are finding it tougher. If social media is making it feasible for fans to be more involved, it is also making it possible for sports professionals to be more responsible for their public statements and how they, in return, connect with their followers and the larger community. Social networking networks represent a minefield for certain users. Posts and updates by sports authorities and players that may at best be regarded as ‘incautious’ are leading to those persons being questioned in the media and occasionally being chastised and punished.

Recently, the Manchester United fans have been sick of their team losing and they are also sick of the constant social media apologies from players which do not solve any of the issues at hand. Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Eric Bailly and several other players have attracted the ire of United fans due to the nature of the defeats that they have come after. Manchester United’s recent defeats have all left the fan base devastated and coming in such quick succession, that the apologies have felt empty and provoked some backlash.

4.4. How the Manchester United team uses social media accounts to protect its reputation against the agents of defamation.

Several figures have been released by Manchester United ahead of the social media boycott of English football, which highlights the rising magnitude of online abuse thrown at the club’s players. A t 15:00 BST until 23:59 BST on Monday 3 May, Manchester United joined the rest of English football in a social media boycott in reaction to the continued and persistent discriminatory abuse experienced online by players and many others associated with the sport.

For the duration of the boycott, the club and the Manchester United Foundation will deactivate all official social media profiles throughout the globe, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A thorough inquiry has been undertaken by Manchester United to discover the level of abuse that players face on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The investigation looked at online behavior from September 2019 to February 2021 and searched for hostile phrases being used against athletes’ names or account handles. It also looked for racist, homophobic, and abusive remarks, which were all covered.

According to the findings of the investigation, there has been a 350 percent spike in abuse aimed against the club’s players since September of this year. Every abusive message was classified in the research, with 3,300 posts targeting players who were currently playing for Manchester United being identified over the reporting period. Abuse directed at fans is also common on social media platforms. The evaluation highlighted the rising problem of user-to-user abuse within the football community, which is expected to see a significant increase beginning in the summer of 2020. Most of these messages were racist, with 43% being such, and just 7% being homophobic or transphobic.

“Through our All Red All Equal project, we have been actively working against prejudice for quite some time,” stated Richard Arnold, Group Managing Director. Despite the overwhelming public support, we have received, these stats show that abuse aimed at our players and supporters is on the rise. Notwithstanding this, the amount of vitriol aimed against our players and supporters is on the rise. “Although these numbers are worrisome, they only represent 0.01% of the conversations about the club and its players that take place on social media. We, along with the rest of English football, are engaging in this boycott this weekend to draw attention to this issue. It will generate discussion and raise awareness of the level to which our athletes and fans are abused.”

As a result, Manchester United initiated club punishment procedures against six persons who are believed to have broken club regulations by attacking Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son on social media after the match on April 11. Unfortunately, three-season ticket holders, two official members, and one individual who was on the season ticket waiting list were suspended, all of whom have the option to appeal their bans. As shown by this disciplinary action, the club’s dedication to the fight against discrimination on a variety of fronts can be seen. United’s anti-discrimination campaign, SEE RED, was launched earlier in the month, and this is the latest example of that. SEE RED has urged supporters to recognize the contributions of the club’s Black and Asian players while also reporting instances of discrimination. Through the manutd.com/seered website, the club has also put up an online reporting mechanism for supporters to utilize. United will collaborate with the Premier League to ensure that any complaints received are sent to the appropriate social media sites and authorities.

1. Conclusion

Due to the obvious open and networked disposition of social media, as well as its distinctive participatory elements affecting football clubs and Manchester United in particular (such as commenting and sharing), this research demonstrates that social media has brought about a significant shift in the practice of sports journalism and contemporary sports news consumption, with negative ramifications that affect both the online and offline world.

It is indeed easy to distribute false information on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook since users can connect with people all over the globe without leaving their homes or offices. A significant amount of the fake material is related to important themes such as club politics and the individual and personal concerns of numerous football players, among other things. Misinformation has the potential to negatively impact the beliefs and actions of those who are exposed to it, such as how people develop ideas about political persons and parties, therefore jeopardizing the integrity of democratic institutions. Because of the believable headlines and page branding that make misinformation look respectable, it is easy to be fooled by the legitimacy and professional appearance of the deception. Disinformation on social media is widespread, affecting people of all ages, educational backgrounds, and socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition, academics should examine the bigger picture and determine if social media is a mirror of the fractured sports world in which we live.

As public confidence in sports journalism and football politics continues to erode, social media platforms give a venue for like-minded individuals to interact with one another. The reduction in newspaper circulations, coupled with an increase in social media use, suggests that news creation and consumption, particularly regarding numerous English football teams and Manchester United may be hampered indefinitely.

1. Bibliography

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