It's been 20 days since I left London, and I can't get it out of my mind. My computer is still set to London time; my camera is still filled with photos; and my mind is still reeling with memories. But it's been 20 days since I've been back, which means it's time to take of the rose colored glasses and get back to life. 

That being said... 

I learned a lot over there that can help me over here like the need for this blog and the importance of social media. Not just for a business to maintain, but for me to advertise myself. So here it goes. With at least two years left of schooling and the need to get an internship on the horizon, it's time for me to get serious about social media. To me, I always viewed it as something just silly and social. Boy was I wrong. 

The Next Step

First off, I cleaned up my Twitter and built up the courage to make it public. My Instagram is officially public. Only thing left is this blog, and keeping up with this blog is harder than I thought. I have no idea what to write about. We were told to find something we're passionate about and write about it, but make it interesting. I'm not interesting. I love a lot of things like art, soccer, antiques and odd fashion. But, I don't go to art museums much or draw on my own. I play soccer, but there isn't much more to say besides that since I'm terrible at keeping up with my favorite teams. I don't own any antiques and my grandma lives two hours away. And finally, I just don't have the money to fund the closet I want. So what do I write about?

After thinking about it and doing some research, why not write about whatever comes to mind. I'm pretty sure I have ADD with how random I can be, which is helpful when being creative and coming up with ideas, but why not embrace my weird wondering thoughts and odd love for strange things? It makes me who I am, and a blog should showcase who you are. So brace yourselves, who knows what is to come next. Maybe it'll be a post about preparation for preseason; maybe it'll be a photo of an outfit I loved that day; maybe it'll be some street art I walked past downtown; and maybe it'll just be my thoughts of the day. Stay tuned to take a stroll through my wandering mind! 
The Preface

I started this project with one objective in mind: to continue my comparison of football clubs' social media strategies and influences in the United States and the United Kingdom. It was my way of taking my passion for football (the real football) and combining it with my interest in advertising. What I found was more than I ever anticipated and these individuals are a part of that pleasant surprise:
  • Kate Fairclough - Account Director at Hill+Knowlton who introduced me to a campaign they did for Norwich FC
  • John Crozier - Account Manager at WeAreSocial and a social media/public relations professional who specializes in sport and works on the Adidas campaign for WeAreSocial
  • Laura Cooper - Defender for Aston Villa Ladies team and avid user of social media

What I've learned: Ms. Fairclough

PictureThe tweet that kick started it all.
Norwich FC wanted to promote and raise money for their charity Railroad Children. With the help of Hill+Knowlton and their sponsor Aviva, Norwich FC created a hashtag #1every5 which they had Stephen Fry, an avid Norwich supporter and celebrity, tweet. For every retweet or tweet with that hashtag, Norwich FC would donate £1 to Railway Children. By having an important individual kick off the twitter campaign and a specific hashtag to track it, Norwich raised £97K, which was more than H+K ever expected.

This case study shows the power of social media and how impactful it can be. If a football club uses social media right, they can increase followers, endorse their team and sponsors, and even help out local charities they support. The use of outside agencies to help with their social media is one of the things I didn't find in the United States.

Columbus Crew, according to the Senior Director of Communications Alex Caulfield, did all their social media efforts internally. I think that if the U.S. clubs tried to use outside sources and celebrities more, they'd be able to expand upon their already successful social media efforts. 

Mr. Crozier and WeAreSocial

“The main goal of social media is to stir up conversation and get people to participate and/or react.” 
                    – George Terry, WeAreSocial

PictureAdidas Football Tumblr
In the group meeting at WeAreSocial, I learned Adidas's Football campaign is the largest one Adidas has, and it has the biggest Tumblr account. Immediately I had to learn more. Upon talking to Mr. Crozier one-on-one, I found out how they must maintain the brand face of Adidas Football, which means making sure all the teams using the brand are not saying anything negatively about it or promoting another brand. Also, Adidas Football uses teams like Chelsea FC and its players to promote its brand; this in tern promotes the club.

As for social media specifically, what I learned was Facebook and Twitter are mostly used to talk to the younger generation, while LinkedIn is more for adults. This is something I didn't really hear in the states. None of my U.S. contacts talked about LinkedIn as a social media strategy nor was there a consistent opinion about Facebook's and Twitter's target audience. WeAreSocial touched upon it, but they did not expand upon how to use LinkedIn so in the future, this is something I want to explore more when broadening my social media knowledge.

Ms. Cooper

In terms of my area of expertise and goal for this trip, what Ms. Cooper had to say was very similar to my United States findings. For instance she told me about cross promotion between clubs and about how they have live coverage of the games. But, what I did find interesting was the women's football perspective. Being a woman athlete in the states, I know how popular the women’s side is here, but in the U.K. the sport is only beginning to gain more recognition, primarily because of social media. It especially helps them to have the men's team tweet about their games and information because it boosts their follower base and viewer interest. On the U.S. side this doesn’t happen since the women’s league has their own teams that are not affiliated to the men’s side.

Final Thoughts

The similarities that appeared did not surprise me much nor did the main differences since they primarily came from the cultural differences. Despite those though, the U.S. could probably learn to use more outside sources like celebrities or a public relations firm in order to help a hashtag generate the attention the club wants. On the other hand, I think the competition the United States faces with American football, baseball, basketball, etc. does help them have stronger social media efforts, using outside sources would just help that grow. The U.K. football teams on the men’s side don’t have quite the competition so the social media isn’t as necessary as it is in the U.S. I think they could learn from that competition in order to grow their social media. All in all both sides need to remember:
"Social Media is a two way street."
                      - Stephen Waddington, Ketchum
Most important take away has nothing to do with sports, but with social media. Social media is prevalent in everything today from sports to Heinz to government. What I've learned these past two weeks is you to have multiple social media outlets especially an interesting blog if you want to just get your foot in the door. Learning that has helped me realize how much I need to reorganize and continue my social media outlets in the right direction. And if I want to be in sports, then this blog must continue to discuss the topic in an interesting and insightful way. 
What I'm going to take away from this trip are the memories I created with my flat mates and fellow classmates and also the friends I've made along the way. It's the little inside jokes and the funny moments that I'll miss the most. After this class we're all going to go different ways. Some people graduated and will be moving on to big kid jobs while some of us still have a couple years left to go. For those I've bonded the most with I really hope the connections we've made and the bond that has begun to form continues once we are all state side. There have been some really spectacular moments with this crew, and I would hate for those moments and memories to stop here. In the words of those AT&T little kids, I want more! I want more!
Besides the Memories

I have a multitude of favorite London things, but these would have to be my top three: 

- The Architecture
- The Convenience 
- The Food

First off, the architecture is unbelievable. I love old architecture that you can tell has been here for hundreds of years paired with modern life. It is such a stunning juxtaposition. And to walk down the streets every day and see gorgeous buildings with unique moldings and interesting designs is absolutely incredible. It's one of the main reasons I keep saying I want to live here. I want to live in an area where I can walk down the street and be in awe around every bend. That sounds so romanticized, but it is the truth. Every street I walk has something that catches my eye. 

Speaking of catching my eye, it's amazing how close everything is and how easy it is to explore new, exciting avenues. Just the other day, my flatmates and I ventured to Paris for the day and then the whole class took a train to Cambridge. Not only that, though, the Tube takes you just about anywhere you need to go in the London area. I absolute love that I can see so much in such a large area with just a simple ride in the underground or bus ride or train ride. Every place I want to go seems like it is just around the corner. 

The architecture and convenience is all good and well, but the most important aspect is the food. Marissa is teaching me the terrible habit of photographing all my food before I eat it, but how can you not when it looks so pretty! I'm loving every bite and have yet to find a meal I don't like. Although everything I eat is not English, every place I've gone has been some where I could never find in the U.S. My parents taught me to travel like this: to live like a "native." In other words you eat at those little holes in the wall you couldn't find anywhere else; you visit those unique spots that most tourists don't travel; and overall, you travel the unbeaten path. I have done quite a few touristy things so far, but all in all I would have to say, I've traveled the unbeaten path and I'm loving every minute of it. What better way to experience London than as a Londoner. 
Advertising campaign I've found in newspapers and on billboardsAdvertising campaign I've found in newspapers and on billboards
I knew coming here the love of soccer (or should I say football now that I've officially crossed the pond) is unmeasurable. I wasn't prepared for all the billboards, commercials, local fans sporting their team's apparel, and all the other forms of advertising I've seen by just walking the streets. 

The Difference

Immediately, that is the biggest difference between the United Kingdom and the United States. In the U.S. there are still fans wearing the apparel and in certain areas I've seen advertisements, but in the U.K. it's around every corner and in every newspaper. Avoiding it would be near impossible. The purpose of social media is to get people talking and generate buzz. This seems like a relatively simple task since people would still be talking about the sport even if there  were no social media, or at least I get the feeling they would. They have an advantage though, football is their main sport; whereas, in the states soccer competes for America's attention with baseball, American football, basketball and hockey, just to name a few. The only competition football in the U.K. has, as far as I've seen, is rugby, which is very interesting to see since that's a sport you don't see advertised in the states too much. 

Besides this difference though, as far as Twitter and Facebook, my research has shown that the clubs in the U.K. use social media relatively in the same way as clubs in the U.S. They cross promote other teams by linking to their pages; they give their fans updates on the players and the team; they provide their fans live coverage of the matches; and they even try to direct traffic back to their websites and blogs. 

Hopes, wishes and dreams come true 

My next step is to go around knocking on some football clubs' doors and hope they are willing to answer a few questions of mine about how beneficial social media is to them, if it is beneficial, and how they measure these benefits. I've learned a lot just from paying attention to the social media outlets, but now it's time to get information directly from the clubs. On top of talking directly to the clubs, I'm very excited to talk to We Are Social about their contract with Adidas and how football clubs' social media efforts impact their social media efforts.

I have talked to one individual so far though. Kate Fairclough, who works for Hill and Knowlton in their public relations department talked to me about Norwich City FC and their sponsor Aviva used social media to raise money for their charity Railway Children. It was really interesting to hear how football clubs go to outside sources to help them raise awareness about important causes. Stay tuned to find out more about our conversation and more conversations to come! I'm learning so much and loving every minute of it. It's amazing to hear how many companies work with football clubs' social media or are impacted by them. 

… We go to Paris! Within 24 hours of landing in London on Thursday May 16th, my flat mates (Katie, Kate, Marissa, Isobel and Fisayo) and I booked bus tickets to Paris that left at 9:30 PM Friday night. So after a bus trip to a ferry ride to being back on another bus to riding the Metro, we finally arrived in Paris at 8 o'clock in the morning, and immediately I fell in love.

The first thing I saw was a gorgeous statue in the middle of an intersection surrounded by beautifully crafted buildings. I was in awe. And just around the corner was the Eiffel Tower popping up across the way. It was astounding how majestic it was to just wander the streets. We ended up seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Arch de Triumph, Notre Dame, and some other beautiful stereotypical tourist stops. I usually like to avoid the tourist areas, but how could we not go see all these iconic spots while we were there. 

After a long day wandering the streets of Paris and a long bus ride with very little sleep, it was safe to say we were exhausted! We even napped in a park with our watchful eye Kate making sure we didn't get pick pocketed. Still, we were ready to get back on the bus and head home so we headed back to the bus station, caught the 9:30 PM bus back to London. Once again, though, we got very little sleep and crashed as soon as we got back to our flat the next morning. All in all, I would have to say none of us regret that decision. Paris was a marvel and completely worth the bus trips, the ferry ride, the Metro expedition, the train ride through the Chunnel, and the immense lack of sleep. I'd do it again in a heart beat. 

Here are some photos from our trip! 
"Paris is always a good idea." 
                             - Aubrey Hepburn
We arrived! It's been a whirl wind of adventure so far, and I'm loving every minute of it. From wandering the streets at midnight in order to quell our restlessness to touring Warner Brothers' Harry Potter studio, I can not get enough. I don't think this blog could even begin to describe how much I'm enjoying this city. If I haven't said it enough, I love London. Even driving the streets at night on our way to our flats, I fell in love. The architecture is beautiful. Every twist and turn has some new marvel waiting for me. I can't put down my camera. I knew coming here it would be gorgeous, but I think the extent of the architectural gems I have found so far is astounding. It's exceeding every possible expectations I could have ever had. I'm in awe and there is no better way to describe it. 

Besides the beauty of it all though, my favorite part has to be the Harry Potter tour. I am no closet nerd. I'll tell you up front, I have read every single book and seen every single movie. When people say I am Ginny Weasley, I feel so complimented. The best part is my best friend Colleen Arlet is even more of a Harry Potter nerd than me so I can not wait to tell her all about the tour! I took pictures of every inch of that tour in order to show her the moment I get back on American soil. Who am I kidding, I can't wait two weeks to tell her. I Facebook messaged her about it the moment we got back to the flats. We even have a wand fight planned when I get home. London was amazing before the tour and now it's more than I could ever have wished for... and we still have a week and a half left! 

And don't get me started on my flat mates and my trip to Paris for the day... stay tuned to find out more about that adventure! 
What's next?

London! But, if you've been following along or watched the video, you already know this. So what truly is next? Making a game plan, that's what. With the U.S. portion officially done with, it's time to strategize what I want to accomplish in the U.K. First off, I need to accommodate my questions. The primary questions I asked in the U.S. were:
1. How do you use social media?
2. Do you measure social media and if yes, how so?
3. Is the use of social media beneficial?
4. What type of social media is the most beneficial in your opinion?

Although my U.K. questions will include those, I have a new route I want to take. In the U.S. soccer clubs like the Columbus Crew do not only compete with other MLS teams when it comes to social media and the audience's attention, but they also compete with the NHL, NFL, NBA, and MLB. Soccer, or should I say football when referring to the U.K., is the primary sport. I want to know if the U.K. clubs use social media to compete with just other soccer clubs or if they do have a little competition between others sports as well. That being said, I’m curious how they use social media in general since they are the main sport. For them, it’s not a fight to draw their fans in or maintain their followers since more fans of the English Premier League are quite loyal. Is it just to provide fans with inside information on the players and games or is there more to it? Also, I wonder if the U.K. teams look to U.S. sports organizations for a sort of how to guide on social media? 

I hope to answer these questions while I'm in London, but I do not wish to just speak to the Premier League teams. I want to see how smaller clubs use social media much like I found out how collegiate teams used it versus the MLS teams. 

The Who

No, I don't mean the band, but who do I plan on contacting once I cross the pond. My goal is to connect with someone within the Premier League, League Championship, and League Two in order to better understand how each league handles social media. In addition, I want to talk to someone at We Are Social, a "global conversation agency," so that I can learn about social media as a whole and not just how it's used in athletics. Emails have been sent and I wait anxiously for replies, but those nerves are out of excitement more than anything else. I'm counting down the days (18 days if you were wondering) until I board that flight, and I'm genuinely thrilled to learn what these individuals can share with me. Of course I'm overjoyed to see London in general, but it's not often I say I'm thrilled to do school work while I travel.  I'm excited to see what similarities we both have even though I do expect there to be quite a few differences. Whatever answer comt, I just can't wait to figure out it all out! 

A while ago, Aubrey Johnson, a fellow future London explorer, and I came across Clerkenwell Design Week and thought, “how perfect!” Our flats are in Clerkenwell; I am a design major; and best of all, IT’S FREE! Yes. I know. I should be talking about how much I want to go see Chelsea or Tottenham or any of the Premier League teams play while I’m in London, but soccer is not my only love. It’s about time I talk about my other passions, starting with design and art. 

Why Clerkenwell, though?

Clerkenwell is a mecca of art and design with architecture studios, contemporary showrooms and design houses. It's only fitting that they would have a design week, and I could not be more happy that it happens when we're living there! From ten in the morning to nine at night, I can walk outside of my flat to exhibitions, installations, street entertainment, music, food, parties and receptions. It's only downfall is that it's just three days long! In years prior, they had 44 venues, 150 international brands and 30,000 plus attendees. What better way to learn more about design than to be completely submersed in it for three days? 
The people contributing to what looks like an amazing week create some of the world's leading brands and products. But, it's not just the designs that have me excited. I'm a foodie, and "Clerkenwell is packed to the rafters with world-leading, exquisite restaurants and eateries," or so the website says! And these food places are encouraged to give discounts and deals during the event? All they need are some good looking men, and I don't think I would ever venture outside Clerkenwell's neighborhood limits! At least not from May 21st to the 23rd while all this is going on. 

Ready to Learn Something New

Although the day-to-day schedules have not been released, I've already registered to take part in the festivities. I can't wait to have access to all that this has to offer. Not only will it be enjoyable, but it also will give me more insight about design and teach me what others are doing right now. Design is always changing and adapting so designers always have to be aware of what's going on. We never truly stop being students, and, although Kent is teaching me so much, it'll be nice to learn from real-life design and architecture rather than from classes and professors. May can not come soon enough in my opinion!

Alex Caulfield, Megan Kingston and Patrick Guldan could be considered Columbus Crew experts when it comes to social media and advertising. Caulfield is the Senior Director of Communications; Kingston is the Manager of Advertising and Promotions; and Guldan is the Managing Editor of the Massive Report. In this day and age, you don't get titles like those by being in the dark on social media, especially when there are ten, if not more, twitter accounts dedicated only to the Crew. That's not even including the players and the list of fans who put their love of the Crew in their bio's! Twitter is becoming the new hub of sports information, soccer especially. Out of the top ten most followed teams, six are soccer teams. Even eight of the ten most followed athletes are soccer players according It's not just Twitter, though. Facebook even has a substancial influence with eight of the ten most liked teams being soccer clubs and five of the ten most liked players being soccer stars. Shocking? I think so. But, it just goes to show that soccer is on the social media radar. Unfortunately, none of those soccer teams or players were American and quite a few were British. So what are they doing that we aren't?
MLS Match Day App
Simple, soccer is their bread and butter. It's to them what football is to us.

Despite that though, Major League Soccer (MLS) has been doing an abundance of social media tricks to boost sales and bring soccer in the states out of its fallen ashes. From their #FirstKick contest to creating their own MLS Match Day App, MLS is doing everything they can with social media to bring attention back to the sport. They even partnered with FourSquare so people could check in for games at the local pubs or stadiums and earn rewards for watching the games. Personally, I had no idea MLS was doing all this, and not to say I hold any power or influence, but if I knew nothing about it, was it marketed well enough? 

I hope Mr. Caulfield, Ms. Kingston and Mr. Guldan can possibly shed some light on this. They may be small fish in the MLS pond, but I'm curious if individual clubs got in on the #FirstKick action or how the Match Day App helps them, if it does at all. Originally, I had just hoped to ask them about how they personally use social media when it comes to advertising for Columbus Crew, but, now, I wonder how they are affected by the social media efforts of MLS. 

My mom and I
I've played soccer since I was four years old and been watching both Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Champions League since birth. Soccer is my family's sport. My dad played in his younger days, my brother's played, and here I am still playing the sport I love. Even my mom has been known to kick a ball around with us! This passion is why my area of expertise (AOE) for London will involve a compare and contrast social media's influence as an advertising strategy for soccer clubs in the United States and the United Kingdom. It's my way of taking my interest in advertising and combining it with my love for soccer.

Upon research, I have found that the Crew MassiveColumbus Crew's big fan club, has multiple twitter accounts so I'm curious to find out how the Crew uses those to their advantage. Social media is becoming more and more influential in advertising, but isn’t being touched upon in schools as much as it should. Personally, I only know social media from the stand point of the consumer. I see the promoted ads and take part in hash-tagging during the World Cup or the Olympics. What I don't see is the planning and thought process that goes into these social media built advertisements, or what benefits they have for the creators. 

The End Goal 

I hope to learn more about social media’s importance by using my passion for soccer. Some day, I want to work in a career that allows me to combine my soccer interests with my school interests so I'm really excited to see what insights these experts I am to interview have to offer. It's a chance for me to peek behind the curtain and see how the MLS and Champion's League work from an advertising perspective.