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Mess with your fans and face their wrath

February 20, 2012

Brands love their fans and often want to do everything it takes to keep them happy. When it comes to social media, it’s really important to keep up the element of surprise to capture your fan’s attention and to present them with an idea that makes them feel truly valued and special.

If you happen to be a soccer club with real, genuine fans, the same rules apply, but you have to be careful because in many countries, football (soccer) approaches religious status and if you play too much of a game, it can easily backfire.

This is exactly what happened to Germany’s Bayern Munich soccer club in January of this year, when they announced they were desperately seeking a 12th man to add to their starting roster.

With Bayern Munich fans getting excited to the point of frenzy about the prospect of a big name signing to further boost the fortunes of the club. The story was so well planted and told, it even had the club’s players quaking in their boots, fearing for their positions with this new incoming star.

The club used Facebook to aggressively promote the news and encouraged its fans to tune to a live event to hear the announcement. At the press conference, they even teased the news by showing videos of some players expressing their delight with the new signing.When the club finally revealed, that the 12th man, was not in fact a player, but a Facebook app, fans certainly got into a frenzy of anger, bombarding the club’s Facebook page with a tirade of abuse that eventually caused the app to crash. Finally, the club was forced to apologize to its fans for the giant mistake it made.

The moral of this story is that while marketing teams are under considerable pressure to generate breakthrough, it’s tempting to use all the resources at your disposal to drive interest and it’s easy to pull the right levers to get that attention, but beware if you can’t follow through on the news, or deliver to the massive expectations your teasing efforts create.



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