Sir Alex Ferguson, George Best, Sir Matt Busby, Eric Cantona, Bobby Charlton, Wayne Rooney – your boys took one hell of a beating! Nobody could have predicted that score from Sunday’s derby. Manchester United don’t concede six goals away, never mind at Old Trafford.

I have always despised Man City; their spending power, the players they were purchasing with it. Their rise from obscurity to title challengers in three years just seemed unfair.

As a Liverpool fan, maybe it’s just jealousy, as it’s another team we have to get through to get to where we haven’t been for 21 years. But it’s not only their performance on Sunday that is making me change my mindset about the ‘Citizens’. They are becoming a leader in the sport for their use of digital media, in attempting to use technology to “increase audience reach and engagement”, as head of digital for the club, Richard Ayres says.

English football has always lagged behind in terms of digital media. Not all the clubs have social networking accounts for starters (here's to you, Man U), which is why I have been so impressed with Man City’s efforts to understand their fans and segmentation. They were the first professional sports team to have an official presence on Foursquare. In July 2011 they launched a free app for fans allowing them to listen to their favourite songs and bands, including their very own club song ‘Blue Moon’, as well as hits from Oasis and Fatboy Slim.

This isn’t their first dive into the app market, with an app in February this year giving fans access to all the club’s stats, scores and videos. Although this sounds a standard app idea for a sports team, it’s the reasoning behind it that is way more impressive. The idea behind digital media is fan engagement, and what better way than letting your fans dictate what is included in the app? That is what City did, and it worked, landing them a number 1 spot in Top Grossing iPhone apps, ahead of Angry Birds and TomTom. Not too shabby!

Throughout the development of their apps or other products, the Mancunians have a Tumblr blog keeping their fans involved in every update. This is giving the fan a real belonging to the whole process, and a feeling that it is being created just for them. On their official site, they have a weekly update of everything social media, including a fan map plotting the fan-produced content.

Video is a revenue that is arguably not used enough by sports teams. Man City have been the first English Premier League club to purchase the rights to their YouTube channel. What does this mean? Well they can now make their channel completely personal, their own content and their own advertising.


Their first video of new signing Samir Nasri signing for the club received 500,000 views in three days. With Liverpool and their Manchester neighbours dominating the international market for football clubs, City are certainly playing catch-up, but their YouTube channel allows them to reach out to a whole new worldwide audience. Creating 100 videos a month is an excellent achievement.

The most exciting digital media campaign the club have launched in my opinion is the use of augmented reality in their membership cards. The ‘Clever Card’ is held up to a web cam from the club website, and it unlocks a whole bundle of excitement for fans like videos, 3D images of their favourite players and new club merchandise. Augmented reality is something which is beginning to take off in advertising. Volkswagon have a new AR ad for their Beetle car, using billboards, and it got me thinking how sports clubs could use this at stadiums on their billboards to create some extra buzz on matchday.

The rise in users of Man City’s social media accounts is a clear indicator of their efforts to gain control of the digital media sporting world. From May 2011 to this month, followers of their Twitter account has risen from 59,000 to 130,000, while the official Facebook page has doubled from 596,000 to just over 1 million likes. I will leave you with an extract from their club anthem, ‘Blue Moon’, which I feel encapsulates the digital media strategy perfectly:

“Blue Moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Blue Moon
You know just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for”

Guest post from Stephen Cleary
Follow him on Twitter

Learn more about his #StevesJob quest and read more of his posts at and