I was originally going to rewrite my rather critical in a frustrated way piece to make it a bit less critical, more constructive. Then I got a chance to talk to some one at the GWS Giants and I better understood some of the thinking that went on. The decisions made aren’t ones that I would have made (switching domains, not deleting the old Facebook page right away and doing a major push to get new followers, the colors, not engaging the online community as much, launching with a website that wasn’t mobile friendly, waiting close to a month to delete the older Facebook page that had 2,000 more followers) but I better understand why these things happened. Given the issues with the colors and the AFL, their decisions made sense. I’d love to compare them to the Gold Coast Suns but the Suns had a name and colors after competing in the VFL for a season. The Suns also had the advantage of continuity with the name because they could be called the Gold Coast Football Club and the Gold Coast Suns; sharing those two names means they didn’t have to destroy their previous branding.
I have a lot of data regarding the GWS Giants. I’m not sure exactly how to construct them into a workable dissertation chapter as things are harder when you’re using a quantitative methodology. I can put context to some of my numbers, such as a bump in the number of new followers on Facebook and Twitter, and increased ranking on Alexa. That correlates to the announcement regarding the colo(u)rs and team name. There are some things I still can’t explain like those pesky Facebook demographics. (And they haven’t changed to be more aligned with other clubs’s demographic profiles on Facebook.)
Most of data involves a great deal of continuity. Names don’t change. Domains don’t change. Facebook fan pages don’t change. (Or they do but the old one was a profile page and the new one is a fan page. The profile page doesn’t get replaced so much as made redundant and it generally has fewer friends than the fan page.) When you’re doing quantitative analysis, continuity is very important. Audiences take a while to build up at a location. New groups/pages/domains are obviously going to start off smaller and then build. Those new pages basically are like hitting the reset button data gathering wise. You can still get useful data out of it but it requires a great deal more qualitative analysis and contextualizing to make it work. That sort of thing has never really been my goal. (And it is ultimately why I probably don’t want to work for a club or league.) I’m not necessarily as interested in how this textual treatment changes the numbers so much as I’m interested in community demographics and mass behaviors. Part of the goal of my dissertation is to prove that a quantitative approach is a valid one for studying fan communities. Change like the kind that took place means I’ve got to deviate methodology wise in order to write a chapter on the early development of the GWS Giants fandom.
… as some one living in Canberra, my perspective on the situation is probably a bit different than Sydney and Melbourne footy fans because of local media coverage. We didn’t get the Sydney perspective on colors and naming decisions here. Instead, our coverage was focused on the ACT4GWS movement. The goal was get 5,000 Canberrans to become members, to signal to the AFL that the ACT fanbase was committed to having a team here. There were big banners with the domain name at a couple of ovals, little post card things asking people to become members at many locations around the ACT, and television ads featuring the team’s famous coach. After a while, I tuned this messaging out.
The whole team reveal felt disappointing in the end. Canberra wasn’t even on the jersey. The colors didn’t connect with the ACT. (We love green here. Or blue and gold.)
As some one who one follows social media and knows enough about what works, I was even more disappointed by ACT4GWS, the local social media campaign to promote AFL in the ACT. Social media takes work and sometimes money to do right. I’d almost rather they hadn’t created a Twitter account and Facebook account because they didn’t do it right. They didn’t reach out to any of the major bloggers. The campaign’s Twitter account didn’t interact with its followers. They couldn’t get Canberrans to follow them on Twitter. (As of November 21, the movement had 96 followers, 43 of whom were from the ACT. Amongst all AFL accounts on that date, 573 Canberrans had been identified.) ACT4GWS didn’t host any tweet ups. They didn’t use Foursquare to promote local events. The content they put out was really generic. At times, it felt aimed more at the local media than it was at the Canberran community. (Who was that for? Couldn’t they have just called the Times and provided Canberran AFL fans with more content social media fans desire?) I just wasn’t engaged in a way that made me feel like this was for me as an AFL fan living in Canberra looking for a “local” side to support.
Social media is supposed to be fun and interactive. This was not. Most importantly, social media is supposed to help attain institutional objectives and I can’t see how their implementation connected with getting more people to pay $50 to become members. Frustrating. Frustrating. The blame for this clearly lays with local AFL people, with Canberran organizers, and not with GWS people in Sydney. So these issues I had as a Canberran fan are not the fault of who I was kind of blaming. My bad.
I have the quantitative data to do an okay chapter on ACT4GWS. Here, there is continuity. Here, it makes much more sense to focus. If I’m going to do a chapter on about the Giants, that’s where it feels like the data would be best contextualized. I can bring the Giants into it in the context of the club’s Canberran fan base.