Over the last number of years social media has become a fantastic platform for clubs to deal directly with their own supporter bases, bypassing the traditional media outlets to speak straight to the paying customers.
It took a while for NRL clubs to fully grasp the reach they could have on social media, but now I think it is fair to say most clubs are very good at keeping supporters informed about club news, game schedules, signings, retirements, injuries, and everything else a fan would want to know about their club.
The people that run social media feeds for clubs are kept very busy, and they produce great content. The NRL itself has recently made a great addition on Twitter, posting game highlights while games as still being played. It isn’t all fun and games though…
From time to time clubs block people from viewing their feeds. Now, there are a thousand reasons a club might block someone. I am blocked by the North Queensland Cowboys because I let them know what I thought of Robert Lui being named in the side during Women In League round a few years ago. As always, I was pretty harsh with the way I addressed the matter, and they blocked me. Fair enough. There is however one area that stands out for me that I wanted to write about, because I think it needs to be addressed.
The St George/Illawarra Dragons have blocked an incredible number of their very own supporters on Twitter. I am constantly seeing people complaining that they have been blocked by the club for no real reason at all.
The club blocks its own supporters at the drop of a hat, and they seem to block people who don’t really have anything too critical to say about the club.
The Dragons also block other supporters. I am blocked and I have no idea why. It may be because I have mentioned that club members are unable to vote on the clubs board, but who knows what the reason is. I have also had people tell me they found themselves blocked just days after opening a Twitter account and they had never tweeted about the Dragons up until that point.
Normally I wouldn’t care, the Dragons can block who they like, but it seems like for what ever reason the Dragons Twitter feed has gone over the top at some point and blocked anyone who didn’t shower the club with nonstop praise.
That is not what Twitter is all about….
A club need to understand that social media, when done right, is a two way street. It is not only an opportunity for the club to have its say but a chance for supporters to give the club feedback. A good club won’t shy away from harsh criticism. If its own supporter base is not happy with the direction a club is going in a good club will take those opinions on board and look to make a few changes so they can better serve their own customers.
You can’t do that if you block everyone that doesn’t agree with the club.
There is also the slippery slope that someone running a social media feed can fall into when they run a commercial account and they make it far too personal. They start to see criticism as a personal attack on themselves and the people they work with. They make it emotional, and they start to block everyone that has anything negative to say.
That is not how any club should allow things to be run. This is a business, supporters are the customers, and an employee is not the club. The feelings of an employee who runs a social media feed should never cut into the overall reach a business has in talking directly with its customers.
Now I don’t care that I have been blocked by the Dragons, but I do think it is a real shame that so many of their own supporters have been dealt with so harshly by the club.
So I wanted to take this opportunity, before we kick off the 2017 season, to maybe try and reach someone at the Dragons and ask that they consider looking through their blocked list and unblock people who are without question St George/Illawarra Dragons fans, people who love the club, and people who just want to be able to get updates direction from the club, without having to go to third parties to get their Dragons information.
It has been a rough few years for the Dragons, and their supporters have stuck by the club and continue to attend games, buy memberships, and buy merchandise in the hope that there are better times ahead.
Surly it would be an amazing gesture by the club to reconnect with their supporters by opening the communications lines and unblocking their loyal supporters who have just as hugh hopes for the 2017 as anyone working at the club also has.
Lets hope the club does something positive and makes a few good decisions over the next few weeks. As an opposition fan, I would love to see Dragons fans talking about how much they love their club, and how much they enjoy interacting with their club, rather than seeing so many people wondering why their own club has blocked them.