Looking ahead to the upcoming Football World Cup in Brazil, team SBC interview’s ArsenalFan.TV’s, Director and Founder Robbie Lyle. Robbie sheds insight into why he set up his popular Youtube channel and website – ArsenalFan.TV, and how his young business has gained popularity through using social media channels.
Robbie is a Surveyor by profession with experience of working in the media. He presented a reggae music radio show on BBC 3 Counties Radio for nearly a decade and achieved a lot of success winning several awards. Although Robbie has a love of music his first love has always been football and Arsenal FC. Robbie turned his passion into business by creating ArsenalFan.TV a social media channel for fans of Arsenal FC, that now has over 75,000 YouTube subscribers and serves over 400,000 weekly views. ArsenalFan.Tv’s content has been reported by media channels – Daily Mirror, Guardian Football and BBC Match of Day 2.
SBC: Hi Robbie great to meet you. ArsenalFan.tv’s Youtube channel and website has an amazing story. Can you summarise for our readers how you came to create your business and why it has been so successful?
Robbie: As an avid Arsenal fan I was often frustrated that you never heard from the ordinary fans of the club. Big clubs like Arsenal have become to some extent corporate machines, and this has meant that their focus on the fans has diminished.
Football clubs may have media channels (websites, Facebook Groups, Twitter feeds), but we did not think they connected with the majority of the fans feelings and that these did not bring key issues to light, which frustrated us.
Our aim has always been to give a voice to the fans of the club in an honest and open way using social media.
SBC: In the early stages of Arsenalfan.tv, how much knowledge did you have about Social Media, in particular – Youtube. What knowledge have you gained from your business with regards to this Medium?
Robbie: I did have some knowledge as I have a friend who has a successful boxing channel on Youtube. Also one of my partners in the business is an avid Youtuber who watches it more than TV. We quickly learnt how powerful Youtube is as a medium and also other social channels such as Facebook, Twitter and instagram, vine, which we have also used to widen our coverage.
These mediums open up the whole world to your product and with Arsenal FC’s worldwide fan base it has been amazing to see where we have received viewers and messages from. Just this morning I was sent a message from an Arsenal fan in Nepal thanking us for what we are doing. We are now actively pushing our content through all the social media platforms possible as we see this as the future of communication.
SBC: You have created a great community, and your video content is now widely shared. We have seen many big businesses expensively fail when trying to create socially led communities, why do you think this is the case?
Robbie: We have achieved this by sticking firmly to our principal of showing the football club from a fans perspective, this is where I feel we have made an honest connection and why a viewer will come back to our channel and share our content. We have kept our channel and website content honest, gritty and professional. We have also made every fan feel that they are a part of Arsenal FanTV which has helped us to create a loyal community. Where a lot of big businesses fail is that they do not connect emotionally in this way with the social media community. There content may be well designed, but it does not evoke a reaction from the user.
SBC: Robbie there is no doubt marketing teams in gaming would target you as a potential customer, how do you feel about the messaging of gaming products targeting you as a football fan?
Robbie: I feel some companies in your sector are appealing to me and possibly to my community, and that they have made some form of connection in their branding and messaging.
However I have to be honest and say that I feel that the majority of online bookmakers have made little impact or no impact on me. As a dedicated fan, I travel the country to all the football grounds and I constantly see sports betting sponsorship all over stadiums, on football shirts and on match day boards and magazines, but I really cannot tell one from the other! I feel they are probably missing a trick by not going to the heart of the football fan bases.
SBC: Many businesses in our industry will be gearing up for the World Cup and will want to create dynamic socially led content for their businesses. What advice would you give them when using social media?
Robbie: To ensure that they use all mediums available (both externally and internally) to reach the core fan base they want to target. This can involve setting up designated channels, websites, using Twitter, Facebook, Vine as channels to drive content or teaming up with existing successful businesses in this area. For example we have been exploring the viability of going to Brazil 2014 to cover the fan and event experience.
Businesses attaching themselves to these types of ideas (not just ours) through sponsorship will gain the support of the fans who will be the ones most likely to use their service. The content on our channels is widely viewed and shared by fans. There also so many good independent bloggers and journalists who have gained a massive following through their written or videoed content, your sector should be exploring promotion through these channels.
SBC: Finally your Youtube channel content gets more views than a lot of Football shows on TV. How has this changed your life, and what does the Future hold for Arsenal Fan TV
Robbie: It’s been an amazing experience to see the rise of the channel, the weekly viewing figures and the influence our Channel now has. We started the business with zero money using a borrowed camera and believe it or not there are three people in the business and we still all work full time jobs. However we aim to go full time with the channel as we have some really exciting ideas to make it even bigger. We are also speaking with fans from other teams and we are planning some big projects for the future.
Our future is looking very good. Social media channels like Youtube are set to overtake TV for viewing and advertising in the not too distant future and we think we are well placed to be at the forefront of that revolution.
Here is Robbie in action for ArsenalFan.TV
Marketing and Media Strategies will be discusses at the upcoming Betting on Football Conference – 8 May 2014 – Stamford Bridge, London