There has been a lot of chatter over the past few weeks of David Beckham’s second coming to AC Milan after the LA Galaxy man’s successful six month loan spell with the Rossernari last season. We all know that Becks is hoping to make the England squad for the 2010 World Cup this coming June, so playing at a top flight club in Europe is imperative if he is to stand any chance. Some cynics have angled that AC Milan have only signed him again to shift more shirts rather than for his ability. I feel it is probably a combination of both with the weight shifting towards the merchandising side as his legs get older.
There is no hiding the fact that Beckham is a walking cash cow and has a small army of advisors on what deals and endorsements will enhance ‘Brand Beckham’. He has had deals with Gillette, Vodafone, Pepsi, Police Sunglasses and still works with Addidas. Beckham is now putting his name behind his own enterprises. He has founded his own football academy as well as male a fragrance originally entitled, ‘Beckham Signature’. In fact you could say that the inexorable mixture of player and brand has been well under way for a few years now. With this in mind I wanted to have a look at what social media he is using to further and maintain this celebrity/footballer brand mash-up through his social networking with fans and onlookers.
As we have seen, more and more athletes are very succesfully jumping on the Web 2.0 revolution through direct and personal fan interaction. However, Beckham, one of the biggest sports stars on the planet, disappoints with his social network sites. He has an offical personal website which he occasionally blogs on, an active Facebook as well as rather redundant Myspace account. Unfortunately, most Facebook postings are written by a PR hack managing the star power of ‘Brand Beckham’. Despite this, that doesn’t seem to stop the masses flocking to his official Facebook page which is touching 3 million global followers. Yes, there is bags of information about his activities and brand promotion but it’s all a bit impersonal and there is a tinge of the Tiger Woods syndrome when it comes to direct fan interaction. We are not expecting he responds to every post or tweet, but come on, I reckon the least we deserve is a bit more from David himself. I believe that if he made a bit more of a personal effort with his social media, his numbers would likely quadruple, which would only be advantageous to maintaining and further nurturing his popularity as he nears retirement.