One of these days I’ll figure out what exactly an NFT is and how to acquire one. It will be too late, of course. I’ll be Joe Kennedy’s shoe shine, putting every penny in Ethereum just as the chain hangs or whatever.
It is arguably already too late, now the crypto world has set its sights on the people traditionally most easily separated from their money: football fans.
Things appear to have escalated on this digital collectible front as the Premier League was away for a few days, taking stock.
Man City signed a mysterious deal, then put it on hold when they seemed struggling to figure out who they signed it with. And Paul Pogba, eager to convince Graeme Souness that he is focusing on a return to fitness, is touting something called crypto dragons. We look forward to Keano’s analysis in this market. Do me a favor!
There are plenty of other examples. So it’s probably fair to say that football is gearing up to give punters another ‘opportunity’ to show their support. Opted for another way to âdrive engagementâ with brands.
And it’s coming at the right time, for football, this new way of selling air, with a little more regulation probably one day on the betting industries where it has done quite well.
Some of us are still dealing with, as they say, the straightforward lesson in how football works recently given by Manchester United chief media officer Phil Lynch.
The interview, with thepodcast, particularly drew attention to Phil’s revelation that United “shoot twice a day fan sentiment graphics for each of our players.”
He clarified, âWe have certain thresholds that alert us when we see fan sentiment going one way. When that happens, we start working with the player and their team individually to try and counter that narrative a bit. “
We could imagine Harry Maguire, after another shock, becoming completely Kendall Roy fromto his personal âteamâ: âI might need you to take my cultural temperature. Stick the socio-political thermometer in the ass of the nation. Just give me the metadata.
And after counting the thumbs down and biting the hashtags, maybe Harry’s folks had the idea of ââcovering their ears after scoring against Albania.
I guess we knew, deep down, this was happening. But it was still a revelation, because it confirmed that there are algorithms, linking social networks, ready to sound an alarm when Fred misplaces one too many pass and punters get annoyed.
In a way, it could fill us all with a huge sense of empowerment, of being seen, as they say. And heard.
No wonder, in this environment where every voice counts, exiled thought leader Richard Keys can’t be sure he’s responsible for the Norwich dismissal. He certainly couldn’t rule it out, in a high profile blog this week, which also urged Marcus Rashford to “stop there” with the starving kids helping.
“Glad I tried a fortnight ago …” Keysy wrote. “I’m not saying I’m the reason they fired Danial (sic) Farke, but isn’t it funny how the sporting director and the owners panic when they’re under pressure?”
We’re all Keysys now. And football presumably monitors fan sentiment index 24/7/365, whether they hire Stevie G, bring back Dani Alves, or tell us ketchup is no longer on the canteen menu.
And yet, on another level, it would appear that there is a fundamental lack of respect for fan sentiment in the idea that these are just figs that can be reversed with a little massage of the narrative.
While we can all feel for Fred or Harry Maguire in these scenarios, I guess we assumed that the priority might be for them to try to stop straying passes or making blunders, if possible, rather than embark on a campaign to persuade punters their opinions are all wrong.
âIn a lot of cases it’s just emotion,â Phil Lynch said, from a fan perspective. And emotion is something that professionals know how to handle. With “content”.
Sadly, people have now started to question the authenticity of some of this content, especially the constant stream of social media apologies from United after each new disaster. And that may not be ideal for Phil and his Premier League brethren, who specialize in ‘building reach through authentic storytelling’.
But there was a lot more interesting things about Phil, including one key detail that may have opened his eyes early in life to the true potential of changing people’s opinions.
“I grew up as an Arsenal fan, but in the mid-90s, like many people around the world, I became a Manchester United fan.”
He now says United’s gigantic fan base is divided, in the databases, into “seven cohorts” – from “die-hard fans to the occasional neutral fan who could support three or four other clubs”. No matter which cohort you belong to, the color of your money is the same. And emotion sometimes has its place.
âWe have to warm up the public. You have to make the emotional connection with them. They have to understand the story. And then over time there will be sales opportunities. But it is not about that.
No, it’s not about that. And United are one of the few clubs not to âmonetizeâ their social media accounts. But there is also a longer game to play.
âAs we start to have that relationship, we get more and more data from it and we can start bringing you specific content that you like and it becomes this self-fulfilling loop. “
And so you feel like we could give more than we get from football, filling in the fan sentiment cues. We’re putting the thermometer in our own ass and no doubt our metadata will soon be put to good use in this new arena of digital collectibles.