To pay homage to club icon, captain and record scorer Francesco Totti on his retirement after 25 years playing for AS Roma, the Italian Serie A club ran a tribute campaign to engage fans and even allow supporters of other clubs to join the Totti conversation.
The core campaign, which launched the week ahead of his final appearance, ran primarily across the club’s own digital platforms and social channels – including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and on its core website, as well as a strand running on Giphy and a final on-pitch ceremony and livestream.
The campaign was based on three core pillars: scheduling content like a TV channel, taking a ‘social first’ approach and ensuring all creative was ‘emotional’.
The club scheduled the content to ensure a whole final week of multi-media content: with pre-created assets pushed out being supported by on-the-fly work that emerged from the club marketing team’s flexible and responsive approach to events as they unfolded through the week.
While the social-first approach involved supporters right through the content production process.
All content was developed under an ‘emotional’ brief that saw the side ‘set out to make people feel something’ and to ‘provoke a feeling of pride or even nostalgia for the football and footballers we grew up with’.
Some of the stand-out work on YouTube includes a video montage of players and fans crying, an emotional video montage of Totti’s career and a ‘career in numbers’ video.
There was also content across Facebook, including a film of the player’s induction into the club’s Hall Of Fame, a final game video and a farewell speech.
The club’s initiative then culminated on 28th May with a on-pitch farewell ceremony, after his final appearance for Roma, which the club streamed in real-time on Facebook Live.
Other campaign strands included several consumer-created and supporter interactive initiatives such as fan polls, a #TottiandMe image montage, a film of Totti drawing called ‘DrawingMy Life’ and then original fan art work. Last, but not least, behind-the-scenes shots and final game quotes and photos.
The campaign’s content broke all of the club’s records for engagement and sharing metrics.
In terms of results, on Facebook the Totti set of videos generated more than 70m videos views: these were shared around 850,000 times and generated 170,000 comments.
The club’s own Facebook Live coverage of the post-match, physical farewell ceremony – which latest for 48 minutes – generated an impressive 12.4 million views, 225,000 shares, 615,000 Likes and a total reach of 41 million.
The club’s final appearance Facebook videos notched up 44.5 million views, were shared 644,330 times and generated 147,000 comments.
During that same 24 hours, the club racked up 1.5 million videos views on Instagram, 4.3 million on views of a dedicated Instagram Story, plus 1.3 million video views on Twitter and 817,000 views on Snapchat.
One of the campaign Gifs, hosted on Giphy, was viewed a record 65 million times in a single day.
Whilst Roma doesn’t have a social media following that matches up to those of European football’s biggest clubs – it has 8.8 million Facebook followers (compared to the 100 million-plus boasted by both Real Madrid and Barcelona, or Manchester United’s 73 million).
But during the last month of the season, Roma out-performed every team in the world in terms of Facebook videos.
It generated more than 10 million views for a video on Facebook in May alone (indeed, it actually generated 10m-plus views mark four times in the final four days of May).
- 15.3m views for a montage of players and fans crying
- 12.4m views for the Facebook Live farewell ceremony
- 11.8m views for an emotional montage of Totti’s career
- 11.6m views for a top 10 goals video
Despite the ‘social first’ strategy, the club also notched up its record week of website traffic in terms of both unique users and page impressions.
Setting out to tug on heartstrings and make fans weep reflects the team’s underlying belief that football supporters, like all people, are more likely to share emotive content.
These are genuinely impressive numbers and they attest both to the respect that Roma’s fan and supporters of other clubs have for Totti and the success of the campaign itself.
The approach was to engage Roma fans and supporters of other clubs in an open and inviting way.
The initiative was led by Paul Rogers, AS Roma’s head of digital and social media (who was formerly head of International Development at Liverpool FC).
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