Meet Eduard Castell. He’s the man behind community building for LaLiga in Hong Kong. If you have heard of LaLiga, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia CF and other LaLiga teams being promoted in Hong Kong, he’s the ringleader behind them all!
Building a community is to allow people to connect and interact with each other, no matter where they are.
Eduard states that LaLiga has been experiencing tremendous growth in their community ever since a change made by management in Spain 6 years ago. Their strategy was to go glocal. That means being a global company that embraces local culture and communities by bringing Spanish football culture to the world. This has netted them significant successes in the digital age, obtaining over 80 million followers globally on social media.
He credits their success to making LaLiga the most community-engaging entertainment league in the world.
LaLiga provides fans all over the world an experience to make them feel that they are right there in the stadium with fellow fans. Regarding the community in Hong Kong, Eduard said, “We listen to the fan clubs. I have a good relationship and we talk every week. The end goal is to show that we are there for them. LaLiga, despite being such a big brand, is like really familiar with you in a friendly way.”
From cooperating with local KOLs such as Tat Gor, to community events providing lucky winners a trip to Spain, LaLiga emphasizes going glocal through communication with the local community and emphasizing event experiences. “We also do frequent consultancies to other leagues, for free, to help them in how to make it professional. Examples in Asia include working with the China Superleague, Thai League, and Malaysian Superleague.”
Eduard noted that everyone appreciates when you go to a country and adapt to their culture. “It’s like in Hong Kong, when I am here, it is not like you have to adapt to my culture. Instead it is more about me adapting to the culture, to the customs, what is polite or impolite, and what is normal or abnormal. In the end, we have to try to get as local as possible.”
LaLiga is also the prime ambassador of Spanish culture worldwide through community events. Eduard stresses that to Spanish people, football is not just a game, but a 360-degree experience of Spanish culture. Not only does LaLiga promote Spain and Spanish culture through football, they also help other Spanish sports communities and associations grow!
“We launched the LaLiga business school which teaches about sports management and related work subjects in the sports field. It is only in Spain where, from a report done by PWC, there are 185,000+ jobs created directly or indirectly to football!” As the effect of football spans so wide, accounting for 1.37% of the GDP in Spain, any legal adjustment regarding football has to be considered, as it affects a significant proportion of the population.
Eduard is also impressed by the popularity of Spanish culture in Hong Kong. People love Spain, speak the language and love the country. This is something that makes him really proud. With the opening of Cathay Pacific’s direct flight from Hong Kong and Madrid and also Hong Kong to Barcelona, there will be an increased incentive for people who want to know more about Spanish culture.
How people watch football has changed over the years, no one wants to wait anymore.
As millennials, we don’t ever want to wait. We start looking for the game results even before the match has even begun. Moreover, even if there is a match, we usually can’t focus on the football match without fiddling with our smartphones. LaLiga not only addresses the needs of millennial users by adopting new technology. They also integrate technology into how they engage with their communities:
For example, LaLiga has their own mobile app where you can check live scores, statistics and news all in one place. Not only can you keep up-to-date no matter where you are, but the experience is also personalized. You can choose to follow your favourite teams and players, so it would only show statistics and metrics for these, providing that shot of dopamine with every LaLiga pop-up!
Inspired by American sports leagues and their use of technology, LaLiga is now the first football league to adopt spider cams into their live streaming experience.
Eduard states that the digital age has greatly influenced how they connect with their fans. Even though they maintain the traditional media to keep older fans engaged, they are innovating with new ways to interact with newer audiences. LaLiga engages their online community closely even if they are overseas. They share global fan events through their official pages, bridging the gap of perception that LaLiga as an untouchable organization, to becoming like that friend that keeps in touch with you!
There is no perfect solution to building a community, just listen and be patient
LaLiga is always open to any ideas to improving their experience, whether for their fans, communities, teams, players or their business. “For instance, we launched a sports tech start up competition along with Microsoft to look for international talent,” Eduard said. “This will allow us to keep on growing, make innovative companies around the world part of our success and learning, and through all these means, get closer to the fans no matter how far they are from the action.”
Only through organic interactions will you see the nature of your community, and have a better sense of them.
Finally, Eduard states that building community is about having the right kind of mindset. You have to find the common point with your community. Go glocal, adapt to your local community. Listen and be patient with the community. Then you can give communities what they want and fulfill their needs. He believes social media shows communities grow from organic interaction, and not from big costly campaigns which try to be interactive, but instead only instill the image of corporate promotions. Bi-directional communication means you not only get to talk to the community, but to listen to them.
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