DC United and How I Sold My Allegiance Thursday April 21, 2011

Last week, we had the privilege of attending the DC United vs. L.A. Glaxay MLS battle at RFK Stadium. And as typical, with posts of this nature I was really planning to use it to describe what a great time we had and post some pictures… as I usually do when we get a chance to experience something new in our adopted second home town.

But this time something a little different happened and of course I’ll get into it after a few pictures.

Anyways, I’ll get back on topic.

This was our first MLS experience. For my wife it was her first real exposure to professional soccer and for me it was a chance to finally see Beckham play.

From a soccer fan perspective, it was a great time. RFK, while decrepit and old, was chalk full of rambunctious United faithful and an infectious atmosphere. The game itself was fantastic with DC pressing for most of the game, but trailing on a early converted Beckham cross.

(For those curious, watching Beckham live is a sight behold… Besides his obvious good looks, the guy has a very Mario Lemieux-esque aura)

My wife, for her first time at a live soccer match, really enjoyed herself. She loved the atmosphere and the speed of the game, which is completely different than what appears on live TV. It also helped that DC United crawled back to tie the game in the dying minutes with an incredible game winning penalty kick, which threw the fans in to utter chaos and euphoria.

Overall it was an amazing time and it’s something that we plan on doing again… But as mentioned the story doesn’t end there.

Last week after raving about the game to our friends, one of close friends Mr. English, decided to try and convert us away from becoming DC United supporters and to instead invest our energy in the Portland Timbers. He pointed to their incredible crowds, addictive iPhone app and of course Timber Joey.

He made a very, very solid case.

So like I always do I thought out loud on twitter. Debating which team I should pledge my supporters allegiance. It was an innocent tweet and a one I did to maybe get a laugh out of someone.

All of a sudden, I received numerous tweets from different supporter groups, from Vancouver, Portland and of course DC. But the one tweet I didn’t expect was from the head of digital marketing at DC United. Who had caught wind of my dilemma on the dcunited hashtag and proceeded to ask for my home address.

A couple days later, low and behold I received an entire box of DC United goodies.

It was an unexpected and amazing gesture, but one that took my relationship with DC United to a whole new level. Pushing me from a casual supporter to a life long fan. (It also helped solidify my decision… and yes I can be that easily bought).

Now as someone who is invested in the power of social media for businesses, this was a fascinating mini case study.

DC United clearly understands the fan experience – from tailoring their games to the ravenous DC United fans to integrating QR Codes, Foursquare and Twitter into their match day activities – DC United is active in engaging and fostering a solid relationship with their fans. (and obviously going the extra mile to add new ones)

I also have to commend them for taking the extra step in their pursuit of new ways to engage and taking risks with new media technologies. All of their advertising is embedded with QR codes and on their match day print outs, they openly encourage people to check in using Foursquare and to discuss the game via Twitter. I also love that the team is open and active on Twitter. Not just using it as a one street to broadcast their message (as evident with my conversation).

Social media provides an incredible opportunity to help professional teams engage with fans and potential fans, it is just unfortunate that not many teams take that risk. Choosing to instead spend their time and energy on old fashioned marketing methods. In a city this large and with so many options, it’s great to see a team take a chance and become actively involved with the community.

So a big thank you to Ben for the great gift and a big congratulations goes out to your team.

- Signed a new life long DC United fan

Categories: the-dc-united, the-social-media,

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