Social media plays a huge part in our lives and there is now an abundance of fan pages/groups on a variety of platforms. This article won’t be reviewing each one (we can do this if you wish!) but I’ll be looking at what we love and loathe about social media and fan pages.
I posted a poll out to our fellow Pompey fans on Twitter asking them what their relationship was like with these fan pages. Out of 140 responses; 41% (57.4 fans) follow a fan page but don’t contribute, 21% (29.4 fans) follow a fan page and actively contribute but most surprisingly was that 38% (53.2 fans) avoid the fan pages completely.
This percentage however is likely to be much higher as by limiting this poll to Twitter, I’ve not reached the majority of fans who don’t interact with social media at all.
So, let’s see what could contribute to this difference in opinion?
• Accessibility – No matter what social media platform you prefer, you’re likely to stumble across a fan page. Whether you like photographs (Instagram), footballer retweets and quick one liners (Twitter) or a steadier forum with fewer restrictions (Facebook) you should find something very easily with a quick search of ‘Pompey’, ‘Fratton’ or ‘Blue Army’. Some of these fan pages, especially Facebook ones, may be ‘Closed’ but a polite note to the Admin will usually allow you to join in and start sharing content.
• Breaking/Latest News – “How did you cope before social media?” was one of the questions I asked my fiancé. I received a straight response “You saw it on the news or in the paper the next day”. How would we cope now?! Within seconds of a story breaking, someone has usually found it on social media, and it’s shared amongst us all to enjoy (or not…). Is this a good thing? Who knows?!
• Rumours (the ones that come true) – I’m sure the majority of you have been as excited as me to see an out of focus blur from 50 metres away which could potentially be a 30 goals per-season striker.. There’s also a real buzz just before a signing especially if a few have guessed right #itshappening and the official club social media can have a great time announcing players in new and inventive ways.
• Friends – It’s hard to be an active member of social media without making friends. Football is always the main topic of conversation, but I’ve shared many highs and lows with fellow fans over the last couple of years. For people who feel lonely, I can imagine that it’s a comforting place to be. If you feel lonely or down, try having a chat in a comment chain on PNN or Fratton Faithful but pick your new conversation buddy carefully!
• Match days – Last but not least, match days. Yes, the atmosphere is better if you’re at the game, but have you tried following a game on Twitter? The best way to describe it is “Fratton Park by subtitles”. You share the ups and the downs, get little clips of the game (thank you @WalkesThisWay) and have the added potential of huge adrenaline rushes when someone decides to retweet a ‘Gooooal to Pompey’ tweet that’s from around 2015.
• Rumours (the ones that don’t come true)– Here it is for the second time, we love the good rumours but can become frustrated with the false ones. How many times have we seen “XXX has been spotted in Fratton Tesco”? Hopes are built just to be dashed when our dream signing signs for another team. For the first time ever though, I’ve been proved wrong and the Marquis rumour actually came true!
• Repetition – I follow multiple fan pages on Facebook and within a minute of a story being printed, my feed is filled up with the same story several times. You then have to make the decision on which one is worth commenting on, and which fans to engage with!
• Moaning – Let’s face it, moaning annoys us all. Portsmouth FC, groups and fan pages can’t please everyone. There tends to be a huge amount of negativity around any decision the club makes, and this is frequently a loud minority. Whether it’s because of the red on the shirt, an incoming player, or the way an announcement has been made – we love to moan. This isn’t limited to Pompey fans, but we are extremely good at it!
• Competitions – These aren’t technically a bad thing, but I’ve entered so many competitions that never have an announced winner! Are some of these scams for retweets and shares? I’ll keep entering and let you know…
• Spoilers – ever been watching the game on TV with a slight time and suddenly a nice little Twitter announcement pops up?! Very frustrating! I once tried to avoid hearing about the score whilst visiting Longleat, unfortunately I forgot to turn off my notifications!
This is where we get slightly more serious and again, this isn’t limited to Pompey fans.
• Fan to fan – We’ve all seen those posts where someone has said something that they’ve not thought about and the next thing it’s been immortalised in a screenshot and posted around social media/fan pages quicker than Brett Pitman ran at Wembley. Some people post to generate a reaction, but others post their honest thoughts. I’m sure we can all think of someone who this has happened to and I often wonder if they really deserve all of the abuse. After all, we all support the same team, and want to see the same end goal.
• Fan to player – These are the ones I never expected to see. I’ve seen multiple occasions where a player has been contacted directly and called all of the names under the sun. There was also a lot on the news earlier this year about racist tweets to players such as Ivan Toney. This is a very ugly side of social media but seems to come with the territory. How can we avoid this?
• Dangerous tweets – I don’t really want to acknowledge this one but we are all aware of the tweet sent to Portsmouth fans before the Sunderland game in May. The gentleman who did this narrowly avoided a prison sentence and I remember the shockwaves this tweet generated. One of my Twitter friends and I both suffer from anxiety. I saw the tweet for what it was, but my friend suffered terribly. They nearly didn’t attend the game due to the fear of this threat.
Social media can be an incredible tool if used properly but, can be so damaging if mis-used. Have fun and be safe!
For tips on how to safe online, there are some great websites available such as: https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/findoutmore/help-me-out-staying-safe-online
With thanks to Andy Mitchelmore for his support with this article.