I’m not the
biggest fan of Arsenal’s Media Watch page. And chances are, if you’re a
supporter who spends the better part of your waking hours thinking about
Arsenal (or football in general), and you understand how tabloids are generally not very reliable, you’re not the biggest fan of
that feature on Arsenal.com either.
Most people believe that football clubs should have no reason to
feature a media watch page – and this is especially true in Arsenal’s case.
Featuring a media-watch page filled with links to stories written by tabloid
journalists whose aim is to sell papers by unraveling the hard work Arsenal’s
employees carry out to keep some of those stories a secret. It almost seems
like a conflict of interest on the club’s part.
Like it or not, however – the “Media Watch” page is here to stay. It
has become a necessity for clubs whose online presence is important in keeping
their supporters all across the world engaged, especially during the summer
break with no club football to look forward to.
All of the top seven clubs in the Premier League last year featured a
“Media Watch” page on their respective websites (albeit some under
different titles – “What the Papers Say” was a popular alternative), and the
reason for doing so is simple.
The “Media Watch” page on the official club website is the easiest
way for fans to stay up to date with any news relevant to the club. There
are many other online tools for supporters to stay informed about what’s
happening at the club – Google, individual third-party news websites, Facebook
or Twitter, but none of them are as important as the “Media Watch” page on the
I’m going to attempt to explain why this is the case by talking about
each of the aforementioned tools, and why they are not as popular as people
might believe them to be.
uses Google to stay up to date with news about Arsenal?
Well, not really. A quick Google
Trends search show us that traffic for Google searches
related to the Arsenal isn’t consistent throughout the year and shoots up
during every August and January (presumably because of the transfer windows),
and falls sharply during the actual season itself.
The perfect example of this is in August 2011. This was the August
where we lost Cesc Fàbregas and Samir Nasri, lost that game 8-2, and also signed five players in 50 hours. The
searches for “Arsenal” and Arsenal-related phrases in August 2011 reached the highest point since the
inception of Google itself. 60 odd days later in November however, the
volume of Internet searches for Arsenal had tanked to less than half of that
The number of searches for “Arsenal” and Arsenal-related terms has
shown no sign of being consistent over the course of the year, and there are no
signs of this trend changing in the future. If people used Google consistently
just over the course of the transfer window (let alone the full season or
calendar year), we’d see a sharp rise in searches in July as well – but
this isn’t the case.
This, to me, is a sign that Google isn’t consistently the most used
online tool for supporters to stay up-to-date with what’s happening at the
third-party news websites? Everyone loves ESPN-FC, don’t they?
Chances are, third-party news websites like ESPN or Goal.com will
never become the “go-to” website for supporters who want news that is only
relevant to their favorite club.
Why? Because people on the Internet are lazy (myself included). We
have low attention spans. A Nielsen
study done in 2011 that showed that users
generally leave web pages in just 10-20
That being said, there is a strong chance that most people
(consciously or unconsciously) are of the opinion that it is just way too much
work to have to go to separate individual websites to look for news pertinent
to one club. This is especially true in cases where certain websites run
exclusive stories – stories that a supporter might miss out on if they went to
just the one third-party news website.
On a lighter note, what that means is a sizable portion of the people
that even clicked on this link to read this have already left by now. (If
you’ve gotten till here, thanks for bucking the trend and staying!)
Now – one could argue that this “lazy-Internet-user” argument
applies to any method of obtaining news on the Internet, but the difference is
in how users want news or content to come to them – they don’t want to
have to spend time searching for news (another reason why Google isn’t the most
used tool for football news). This is where social media in particular comes
But this habit of being lazy on the Internet…it’s why push
notifications made RIM (the makers of BlackBerry) one of the biggest mobile
phone companies in the world. It’s why RSS feeds still exist. And it’s why a
majority of us football fans on Twitter follow people that do a good job of
aggregating news that’s relevant to their favorite football clubs.
& Twitter are the most popular ways for football fans to stay up-to-date
Yes… and no. The role of social media for Arsenal is simple – it
gives the club a valuable tool to “eliminate the middlemen”, so to speak – and
gives them a direct way of communicating with the club’s supporters, while
simultaneously (to a certain extent), listening to what they have to say.
But Facebook and Twitter are not sources of news. The club does not
use either of the two to publish any original or third party content, but uses
both to drive traffic to Arsenal.com, where any relevant content is published.
The potential reach of both pages are sizable – but Arsenal’s online media team
are making the right decision by focusing on driving content to their official
Facebook’s policy of not allowing pages to reach their full audience
unless pages pay to promote posts has resulted in just 1.16% of the 14.2
million users on the page actively interacting with the page in the last week.
Twitter isn’t necessarily more effective seeing that a majority of
Arsenal’s tweets get anywhere between 50 to 250 RTs, with a few exceptions that
are still relatively small considering the page has 2.4 million followers.
And as popular as both Facebook and Twitter might be at the moment,
they too will eventually die out in favor of other websites – just like
their predecessors have. It is not a matter of “how” or “why”, but it is a
matter of “when”.
It only makes sense that Arsenal run an aggregator of sorts on their
official website for news relevant to the club itself, and sharing these “Media
Watch” posts on their social media pages to keep supporters engaged during the
summer break. The more traffic Arsenal.com gets, the more time users spend on
the official website – the more time users spend on the official website,
logically speaking, the more revenue Arsenal earns through the sale of
merchandise or memberships on the same website.
And while this might sound wide of the mark initially – here’s
something worth considering. Plenty of us on Twitter have been, are, and will
be mildly annoyed by the “Media Watch” tweets on the official Arsenal account.
Some of us might (hypothetically speaking) have something to say about it – so
we post tweets about Arsenal’s Media Watch, and why we don’t like it.
What most people seem to forget is that just through the action of
tweeting about Arsenal’s media watch page – you are, in a certain sense,
engaged in some sort of discourse relevant to the club. This is only good for
the club in the bigger scheme of things – especially considering this constant
dialogue about the football club on social media websites is a lot harder to
achieve when there’s no football to talk about.
By getting people to actively post tweets or comments – regardless of
whether they are positive or negative, the club gets more publicity. And as the
age-old saying goes, “Any publicity is