Tag: Socceroos

How not to do social media

As my friends can attest, I’m a big Socceroos fan.

Socceroos fan

I grew up playing football (aka soccer) and although a few different codes compete for my attention in my home town, the World Game is the one I truly care about.

It was to my great joy, therefore, that the national administrators of the sport comprehensively revamped the local league several years ago. I think it’s fair to say the previous administration was widely perceived as incompetent, so it was no surprise when it was scrapped. The Football Federation of Australia (FFA) was born, and in 2005 the A-League kicked off.

Side note: I wasn’t the only one scratching my head when West Sydney wasn’t a founding club. Maybe it was a sign of things to come.

Around this time I was getting into Facebook. I had become a “fan” of a couple of other sports clubs (eg Wests Tigers) when I noticed there was no Facebook page dedicated to the Australian national football team. So, being the passionate fan that I am, I started one.

In no time I had attracted over 10,000 fans. I dutifully sent out updates for upcoming matches, and I even provided the details of local TV coverage for fans who couldn’t attend in person.

This went along swimmingly until I got a message from Facebook HQ telling me that I had no rights over the page and my administration access was suspended. The message said I could submit an appeal outlining why I should be granted access, which I did on the basis of the page being a “fan” page. I even suggested that the title of the page be changed to “Fans of the Socceroos”. Naturally I staked no claim whatsoever to any IP such as the Socceroos logo.

Lo and behold, Facebook never replied.

What can I deduce from this? Obviously some clever dick in the FFA had the bright idea of jumping on the Facebook bandwagon – and the easiest way to do this was to hijack the fan page that I had lovingly curated.

The irony is I would gladly have handed them the reins if only they had the professionalism to ask.

But they didn’t. Suffice to say it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Stencil painting of Bubble O'Bill.

A different approach

The sorry affair was a faded memory as I watched Grace Gordon from Soap Creative present at last month’s SMCSYD.

Grace was busting social media myths when she mentioned a brand that piqued my interest: Bubble O’ Bill.

For those of you who are not aware, Bubble O’ Bill is an ice cream that was first launched in the US in the 1980s, but achieved peculiar success in Australia soon after.

In 2009, customer Nick Getley liked the brand so much he created a Bubble O’ Bill page on Facebook that – at the time of writing – has 844,276 fans!

Switched On Media tells us how it came about:

The history of the Bubble O' Bill fan page

It is the penultimate sentence that resonates with me:

Overwhelmed by the warm support for this Aussie icon, Streets Ice Cream contacted Nick and offered to work with him to make the page official.

Take a bow, Streets. You approached social media in the spirit that was intended, and now you are reaping the rewards.

The difference between right and wrong

So what does this have to do with e-learning?

Well, as time goes by, e-learning is increasingly converging with social learning through social media. The two marketing cases outlined above teach us that when we implement a social media strategy, there is a right way and a wrong way.

The right way is to be inclusive, collaborative and supportive. If you empower your champions to follow their passion, they will lead the charge on your behalf.

The wrong way is to be draconian, faceless and isolationist. If you burn your champions, you will lose your allies.

The proof of the pudding

So to conclude, let’s compare fan bases.

The fan bases of the Socceroos and Bubble O' Bill pages on Facebook (01/12/10)

The Socceroos, the pride of a nation, has 144,378 fans on Facebook.

Bubble O’ Bill, the ice cream cowboy with a bubblegum nose, has 844,276 fans on Facebook.

Whose social media strategy will you adopt?

Honest football

As Australia bows out of the World Cup, please forgive my first‑ever off‑topic post…

Australia v Serbia

As usual, the Socceroo journey was characterised by adversity.

The ball was the first bone of contention: neither the A‑League nor the EPL (where many Aussies play) had used the physics-defying Jabulani, while the Bundesliga had been using it since January.

Our first opponent? Germany.

Following our 4-0 drubbing by the Mannschaft, out came the predictable rumours of discontent in the camp. Given Australia’s squabbling during the 2007 Asian Cup, it was believable.

However, my constant source of consternation is the inconsistent and, in my view, biased behaviour of the referees.

For example, what’s the difference between the following incidents?

Incident A: The defending player clumsily falls into the opposing player, knocking his calf and catching his foot with his shin.

Incident B: The defending player launches into the opposing player, feet first, studs up.

Tim Cahill receives a red card

Answer: Incident A was committed by an Australian and attracted a red card, while Incident B was committed by a Spaniard and – according to the referee – did not even warrant a free kick.


Not convinced?

OK, what’s the difference between these incidents?

Incident C: The defending player is standing on his goal line when an opposing player rockets it towards him from outside the six-yard box. In an instant the ball crashes into his shoulder and rolls down his arm.

Incident D: The attacking player chips the ball over a defender, raises his arm to tap the ball to his feet, then scores.

Luis Fabian handles the ball before scoring

Answer: Incident C was committed by an Australian and attracted a red card. In contrast, Incident D was committed by a Brazilian, the goal stands, and the FIFA-appointed referee had a little chuckle about it with the player.

Bocó de mola.

Onwards and upwards

But this article isn’t about sour grapes. I concede we got out-played.

Nor is the article about FIFA-sponsored incompetence and injustice.

It’s about overcoming all of that.

A new approach

In the 1970s, the Dutch perfected the art of “Total Football”, whereby any player can step into any position on the field and maintain the structural potency of the team. Ajax used it to take out their national league and several European cups, while the Oranje rode it into the 1974 World Cup final – and nearly won it.

Johan Cruyff

Now I certainly don’t suggest that the Socceroos adopt total football as a panacea, although we inevitably need to incorporate elements of it into our blueprint.

No – with a population barely cracking 20 million, a football market cannibalised by four competing codes (not to mention cricket), and the tyranny of distance denying us frequent quality competition, our technical prowess isn’t going to escalate overnight.

Combine that with our general lack of clout among the Europeans and South Americans who control FIFA. The Socceroos will be considered minnows of the game for the foreseeable future, and we will be treated with commensurate disdain.

We need to do something different

I suggest we take a leaf out of Holland’s book and develop our own style of football. Something that will complement Australia’s natural strengths of spirit, determination, and a dash of British sportsmanship.

I call it “Honest Football”…

• No diving.
• No faking mortal injury.
• No contesting throw-ins you know aren’t yours.
• No calling off-sides you know don’t exist.
• No claiming goal kicks you know are corners.
• No rough play.

In other words, forget all the gamesmanship and focus on playing pure football.

Revolutionary, eh?

This idea may seem counterproductive, especially when every other team will be whinging and whining and cheating their way through tournaments.

But there’s no point in competing on that level. We can’t do it as well as they can, we don’t even want to do it, and referees don’t take much notice of us anyway.

Let’s turn our problems on their heads

We all know football is about perception, so let’s build our own reputation for clean play.

If we are genuine about it, we might be able to generate goodwill, and in a more practical sense, persuade referees to treat us more fairly.

We might as well give it a go. The way I see it, we have nothing to lose.

Tim Cahill and Lucas Neill