Footballer Joey Barton is no stranger to social media.
Barton is one of a select group of sportsmen to properly embrace social media, even if it means he occasionally lands himself in a spot of bother when he voices his views on Twitter.
When the 30-year-old tweets, more often than not it provokes a reaction and provides plenty of fodder for journalists hunting online for a story.
Love him or loathe him – and there’s certainly plenty of people who fall into the latter category – Barton is great entertainment on Twitter, especially when compared to rival sportsmen who only seem to tweet about visits to their local Nando’s.
Barton’s life on and off the pitch interests people and last Friday the midfielder, who is currently on loan at Marseille from QPR, revealed more about himself in his first Google+ Hangout, an event he seemed really excited to be involved with.
“It’s very rare you get the chance to interact directly and see peoples’ faces,” he observed at the start of the Hangout, which was run by his loan club Marseille.
“It’s really forward thinking and I think [it’s] the way that social media and certainly sports people will need to go in future.”
Barton is right. More high-profile individuals, and particularly brands, will use Hangouts in the future as a way to connect and engage with an audience. Marseille started using them last month and the club’s first video chat with manager Elie Baup has been viewed over 17,000 times.
It’s unclear how many people have watched Barton’s Hangout debut, but here a few pointers from it that may come in handy for anyone thinking of hosting one soon.
Adopt a multi-lingual approach
An English footballer playing for a French team paved the way for a multi-lingual Hangout, a tactic which widened the appeal and audience reach of the event. Questions and answers were translated into French and English relatively smoothly depending on which of the panel of football fans quizzed Barton at any one time.
Use a celebrity/expert to boost circle numbers
To be in with a chance of being selected to take part in last week’s Hangout you had to follow Marseille on Google+. The club have been circled by over 109,000 Google+ users and the exclusivity of potentially getting to interview one of the most talked-about players in English football will have boosted follower numbers. Marseille utilised Barton’s celebrity standing well.
Post the Hangout video online
In total, the Hangout was over an hour long and gave an interesting insight into Barton. Posting the video online afterwards on various sites (Barton’s own website, the club’s official website and Google+ page) allowed those people who missed out – myself included – the opportunity to watch it and feel part of it in a way, prolonging the life span of the Hangout. Hangouts provide a great piece of content and it’s vital to have a strategy in place to seed it out after it has finished.
Seek engagement from various sources
The Q&A session with Barton involved questions from the specially-selected group of a handful of supporters in England and France as well as questions submitted via his own website, Twitter and Google+. This ensured the conversation flowed well, containing a variety of different topic threads and brought together people through different channels. The result was a good mix of people; Marseille fans keen to talk to their new signing and English football fans wanting to know more about the enigma that is Barton.
Continue the interaction online afterwards
It’s interesting to note that Barton thanked one of the Hangout participants on Twitter shortly after it finished. The knock-on effect of this tweet will surely have prompted some of the people who either follow Barton or the individual to learn more about the Hangout and therefore increase awareness of it.
Don’t clock watch
As already mentioned, Barton’s Hangout lasted just over an hour and despite this seeming like a long time, it didn’t really drag on for too long – although I am a football fan to be fair, so I was always likely to watch it from start to finish. And that’s something to keep in mind when it comes to deciding how long to make a Hangout. If you’ve got somebody genuinely interesting involved with plenty to say then take maximum advantage of this. The focus should be on giving the viewers value rather than worrying about clock watching.
Timing is everything
Friday’s Hangout was timed to perfection. Barton was poised to make his long-awaited league debut for Marseille two days after the video chat took place following the end of a 12-match ban, meaning the club’s supporters and football fans in general were keen to hear from the man himself on his move to France and find out how he is settling in.
More brands are gradually realising the importance of Google+ Hangouts – and Barton’s first shows that it’s crucial to approach them in the right way to ensure they are a success.