Monday, November 10, 2008

Another way to Football/Engage

I stumbled upon this Washington Post article through about a project called The basic premise is as follows, 31,000 members pay a minor monthly fee to a nonprofit which owns a soccer team in England. Here's the catch, each of the 31,000 members are part owners of the club. They vote on major and minor decisions, but most importantly, they are engaged in the business.

Why does this matter? We hear a lot about using social networking and Web 2.0 tools to advertise businesses or products. Seth Godin, for example, talks about creating a tribe. The concepts are all fine and well, but how can one apply these strategies to their business? Can anything be wikified? Are all products created equal? What are the repercussions if done incorrectly?

As a consultant I've seen plenty of organizations get very excited about new technologies and strategies but overwhelmed with the implementation. This reminds me of some comments about the TV show We Mean Business on A&E:

"When I watched the episodes,  it was my turn to be surprised.  I was surprised by how resistant to new ideas several business owners were. Some argued openly with the team about their ideas. There was a follow-up video done a few months after each makeover, and in several cases the owner had un-done parts of the makeover. (Usually in those cases the business was not doing any better, either.  Remind me the next time someone gives me advice, to take it.)"
- Anita Campbell @ Small Business Trends

In light of the pitfalls of 2.0 marketing and the challenges associated with change, MyFootballClub and other examples of consumer engagement are exciting and demystify social networking for small business owners.  These strategies are particularly important to nonprofits who rely heavily on customer (donor) engagement.

So, to step back a moment. I want to be an owner of a sports team, too. If I were business owner, I would want people to be so excited about my product that they create new niches for it. But the steps for getting to that point can seem overwhelming. Let me know if the tone of this post is TOO cautious.

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