Mendy providing real Player-Fan Engagement

Mendy providing real Player-Fan Engagement
3, October 2017 Donnacha Brennan

This season has seen a big increase in Premier League player interaction on social media, and when it is done right, it is proving to be a big hit with fans. Benjamin Mendy of Manchester City has been leading the way, with fans waiting on his next 140 character message with the mirror image emotion as that felt by the White House PR department as they anticipate the early morning tweets produced by Donald Trump. His personality comes across in every interaction, which allows fans to really identify with him as a person. This is all too rare an occurrence, as many players and clubs seem to be missing out on the opportunities social media gives them to boost fan engagement and build relationships.

This past weekend, the Frenchman was in fine form, despite suffering an injury which will see him miss the remainder of the season. He even jovially responding to a fan asking what they should do with his FIFA18 player card, telling them to “Sell it ASAP!”. When journalist Duncan Castles tweeted that it is suspected that he had a ruptured ACL, Mendy was very quick to respond to the report… to the glee of fans who are shall we say, less than appreciative of Castles’ journalistic style. That tweet received 38k RTs, 81k Likes and more than 2.3k comments.



While Mr Castles was eventually proven correct in his diagnosis and in fact added the occupation “graduated doctor” to his twitter bio, it did little to stop the enjoyment fans felt by Mendy calling his reporting into question. Even from his hospital bed, the former Monaco star continued to entertain when he broadcast his celebrations to Kevin De Bruyne’s winner over the London side in their big Gameweek 7 clash.



This is not a new thing in the world of sport as NFL players such as Chad Johnson became Twitter superstars when the platform first emerged, but it is great to see in the Premier League. Clubs are in a difficult position as they want fans to identify with their players as people, and yet the money in the game means that the players live vastly different lives to their fans, and while the walls surrounding their mansions represents security to them, they represents aloofness to the fans.

While it is understandable for players to be provided with stats or images of them on the field to accompany messages, blunders (pictured below) such as that by the common social media manager of the John Stones (Man City) and Gary Cahill (Chelsea) ruins what could be a great avenue for player-fan connection. Instead of being a positive, it only adds to the cynicism felt by a lot of fans about their club and highly paid players. Is it really too much to ask for players who have grown up with a smartphone in their hand, to post their own social media messages? Without authenticity, where is the value to fan from following the account of their favourite players?



Social media can allow fans and players to interact easily and safely, in a way which is comfortable to both in the social media age. Not all players have the same personality as Mendy, but all can enhance the player-fan relationship by simply allowing fans to get to know them better, and the first step in that can be by posting their own messages on occasion.

Clubs try to produce engaging unique content each week, but there is nothing more unique and engaging than what Mendy is doing with simple posts and video from his phone. While Pep Guardiola and the player himself would rather he was able to contribute to the club on the football pitch, this injury does mean that he will have his phone in his hand on gamedays, and thus still be of benefit to Manchester City from a Fan Engagement standpoint. In every cloud there is a silver lining…


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