OK I have to admit I was shocked when I read that Man U has taken such a horrid approach to social media and while I understand that many corporations are slow to adapt and some simply refuse to think that control of their brand is already out of their hands. For fans of MLS, the league may be a bit slow in adapting to many of the social media trends, but the teams have done a great job.
I can speak to this first hand, I started a simple little blog a couple years back as a way for me to rant and rave about RSL. For the first year I did it from the stands as a simple observer, a season ticket holder, a member of a supporter group. In the second year the team prepared to move to their new stadium and I asked for permission to take some pictures during the construction to share with my readers, and the team opened every door in the stadium for me. As the team prepared to play their first match at the new stadium, I pushed my luck and asked for luck and ask if I could take pictures from the pitch for those first few matches and the team again opened up and let me in.
More after the Jump:
As last season started I actually applied for full credentials, and without as much as a "who the hell are you" I was given access to the team and allowed to take pictures at all the matches. By midseason the team even got me access to the MLS controlled All Star Match, and credentials on the road when I could travel. By the end of the 2009 season I had moved my blog to SB Nation, I had full media access to MLS Cup and was the only fan blogger invited to the MLS Blogger Summit in Seattle.
None of that would have happened if RSL had taken the same route that Manchester United had, in fact RSL has a facebook page, their players and coach are on there, heck their GM is on twitter during matches and even while he was working deals at the recent MLS Draft. All to help meet the desires of the fans for more access, more information.
This year will see huge changes in how MLS deals with the online world, they have already started as they launched their own blog MLS Insider. In fact teams will finally be given control over their own websites, I can't wait to see what RSL can come up with.
So to whoever is in charge over their in Manchester, listen up: you can't control social media, you can only make your voice heard or be drowned out by others. You don't own your brand, it is your fans who control it and decide if it needs changing. It is time to realize that you either can be involved or left behind. I am thankful that RSL understands these things and not only embraces the mainstream media, but go out of their way to ensure that the new media, the media of fans and critics, the media of the masses has the same level of access.
It was just two weeks ago that I sat down in the office of RSL president Bill Manning and was allowed to interview him. Not for ESPN, FSC, not for MLSnet.com, or even the official team blog Behind the Shield, no it was for my little blog for the couple hundred of you who in the middle of the off season are still as hungry for all things RSL as the thousands are during the season. So when do you think a blogger will get a sit down with anyone from Man U's front office?
OFF MY SOAPBOX