I’ve started the Social Pages this year looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the franchises so far and what I would like to see them do better. I think it’s safe to say that the Melbourne Rebels are the standard to which all other Australian sides are held to. Put simply, the franchise’s presence on social media is outstanding, and while their players have, through the years, done some stupid stuff on social media (largely documented on these Social Pages) the Rebels presence has always been strong.
The Rebels’ social media presence is ALL about fan engagement – given they are in arguably the most crowded sporting media market in the world (AFL, Formula 1, AFL, rugby league, tennis, more AFL) they need to generate as much media as possible. Over the years they have received this on the back of high profile signings (and have paid dearly in doing so) but this year it’s all about making the news for the right reason.
So it was a ballsy move to put this as a half page ad in the Herald Sun today (Tuesday 18 February). This was all about creating chatter in the Melbourne media and from someone who spent time in a Melbourne CBD food court today, it did the trick very nicely.
This created a bit of a stir overseas with Drew Mitchell leaping to the defence (?) of either Buddy, or James O’Connor or…look, to be honest I don’t know who he was defending, but he called the post in poor form on twitter. I’m sure the Rebels appreciated him linking the post to his 36.9K followers (compared to their 15.1K followers) but it has generated some positive and negative chatter. My two cents…
It’s about eyes on the ad, generating chatter in an AFL-mad town. And I can’t see a downside for the Rebels – Buddy tweeted about the loyalty that he felt the Rebels failed to show James O’Connor, then demonstrated that such loyalty is a modern-day sporting myth by signing with the Swans. Melbourne, as an AFL-mad town, tends to support teams, rather than individual players; there is no real downside to taking a swing at a Sydney player in a Melbourne paper.
There have been some people calling it a negative for the Rebels’ sponsors, and a little tacky; I can see their points. But I believe that the weight of comment and sharing is still a positive. And it got people talking about the Rebels. How do you see it?
The Melbourne Rebels
I could do the strengths and weaknesses, but quite simply they have too many strengths to mention and their only weakness is eczema (a nod for all The Office fans out there). They are fantastic, they don’t care who you support, they’ll talk to you, and they are EVERYWHERE.
The Rebels have adopted “There’s a Rebel in All of Us” for their membership drive, which is a neat adaptation of Danny Cipriani’s Melbourne mantra “there’s been a Rebel in many of you”. I am a little upset that I don’t qualify for the Little Rebels Membership, as I’d love Laurie Weeks’ lunchbox, but I’ll eventually overcome my disappointment.
The Rebels do Twitter Takeovers where players take over the official Rebels twitter account and answer questions for an hour or so. They have all been great so far, but I would like to make the Laurie Weeks Twitter Takeover compulsory reading for all Social Pagers. Here is a link of the highlights, but I had the opportunity to read it live, and there was so much gold. Keep a close watch for the next one – you don’t want to miss it.
Oh, and Rebels people, I’d love the next Twitter Takeover to be Mr Weeks again.
The Must-Follow Players
I think the Rebels’ players are the hardest-working on twitter and Instagram. Yes, I’d love to see them respond a little more on both of these social media but given how much they do, they’re the best team going around. Also, they are arguably the prettiest team. You know, if that matters to you.
@L_Weeks on Twitter; l_weeks on Instagram
If you only follow one rugby player in Australia, make it Laurie Weeks. The self-proclaimed People’s Champ, he has social media NAILED! Funny, informative, personable, interactive – just great. Like Heath Tessmann at the Force, he’s the player at the Rebels you’d most like to have a beer with. He is so good that most of the slides below are from his account. Also he asked Jessica Mauboy to be his date to the Rebels Christmas party via twitter. She did not reply.
(@JasonWoodward06 on Twitter; JasonWoodward6 on Instagram)
As well as being quite the tasty treat, he’s worth a follow because of his Flappy Bird frustrations, his sharing of family pics, and his witty comebacks to teammates. He seems like a really nice guy who isn’t afraid to laugh at himself, and he replies to people too. Overall a quality follow.
(@hughwpyle on Twitter; hughwpyle on Instagram)
He’s the equal-prettiest 2nd rower (with Luke Jones – now let’s not get in to a 2nd two vs back row battle…) in Australia (there’s a pic in the gallery below to back me up!) and although he’s an irregular poster, he’s worth following so you don’t miss any Weeks-related interactions.
Mitch Inman (@mitch_inman on Twitter) He’s really pretty. And he sometimes posts photos of himself. That is reason enough.
Luke Jones (@lukejones91 on Twitter; lukejones91 on Instagram) See Mitch Inman…
Lachlan Mitchell (@lachlmitch on Twitter) Readers from last year know of my love for the quirkiness of Lachlan Mitchell’s all-too-rare tweets. He makes me laugh.