By Ricky Zililo
Bulawayo Chiefs FC want to capitalise on their huge social media following by converting their followers into members through a massive special online membership drive.
Chiefs became the first local club to launch an online store to sell its merchandise a fortnight ago and are determined to use new media to grow their brand to attract membership at a time football is still on hold as a result of the national lockdown.
Their online store services Chiefs’ followers around the world and has been receiving rave reviews.
The club is satisfied with orders it continues to receive from fans and sympathisers.
Chiefs, also referred to as local football’s Twitter Kings due to their huge social media following and punchy tweets, are the only club in Zimbabwe with a verified Twitter handle. Their Twitter handle was verified two years ago.
They have far outpaced the league’s old guards in using digital media platforms for effective communication and outreach.
Chiefs are keen to leave footprints on digital platforms and said they are working on a membership database that will accommodate fans, supporters, sympathisers, friends and sports lovers from around the globe.
“Just like any successful organisation, membership and subscription play an important role in growth and at Chiefs we dream of growth and we believe members will play a great role in us growing as a team and as a brand. The main drawcard is that anyone who subscribes becomes part of history making and part of a project,” said Chiefs’ spokesperson Thulani ‘Javas’ Sibanda.
He said there were various incentives and bonuses that will be received by members ranging from developmental input, store discounts, match day hosting and merchandise gifts, among others.
Chiefs’ presence on social media has earned them praise from the Sports Leaders Association of Zimbabwe (Sliz), which has been urging local football clubs to embrace technology to grow their brands.
When the Government enforced an indefinite ban on sporting activities in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Sliz president Russell Mhiribidi challenged clubs to find other ways to sustain them beyond turnstiles.
He advised clubs to think about add-ons in deals given that when the league resumes, teams were likely to play in empty stadiums until Covid-19 is contained.
Mhiribidi warned that some clubs were in danger of folding after the lockdown because they only survived on gate takings alone instead of exploring other ways to make extra income such as selling original replicas and club memorabilia. The Chronicle