In an era where social media and video content is king in the media world, there is one Betfred Super League club who lead the way in using the platforms to engage a new audience and to build a positive feeling around the club – Warrington Wolves.
The club have, in 2019, taken their fan engagement and experience to a new level, one which all top tier clubs should aspire to. First of all, there’s match days. The club have shown a willingness to try different things – they became the first team in Europe to use technology to use their fans’ phones to create an in-stadium light show, something which has been done before in North America but never in Europe – let alone rugby league. The ‘Wire Flyer’ has also caught the attention of the wider rugby league public where a former Warrington player – believed to be either Kevin Penny or Chris Riley – challenges a member of the crowd to a race. Thus far, the speedster is undefeated – even given the headstart his opponent is given – but this week it could be different because one of the most flamboyant characters in rugby league has taken the challenge.
Such is the buzz coming from the club, ex-Salford supremo Marwan Koukash is set to challenge the Flyer, possibly with a glass of wine in hand, but his engagement has only gone to create an even bigger buzz about the event and the team. Ahead of today’s match against St Helens, the two clubs held a joint press conference to promote the match with legends getting involved in creating as much of a hype as possible about the match. Creating event days out of matches is surprisingly something which hasn’t been done by many Super League teams as often as they could – and it’s helped Warrington maintain one of the best average crowds this season. For their last home match against London Broncos – a match where many teams would anticipate a lower crowd than usual, the Wire kept theirs at the same sort of level by running a special offer for school children to get into the ground for just £1. Mascot Wolfie went round to local schools to promote the match and it worked – no doubt helped by the fact that the success off the field is being matched by an impressive team on it. There was even a junior takeover where youngsters shadowed Warrington employees.
Wolfie was also out and about – with a camera following him – in Liverpool last night where he ventured into the M&S Bank Arena for the Premier League Darts. Not only did he visibly draw attention to rugby league to a possible new fanbase, he managed to get into the dressing room of Saints-supporting darts player Michael Smith, giving one of the best players in the world a surprise. The pair squared off before Smith goaded Wolfie with the much-heard rugby league line of “it’s always your year.” The video has had over 8,000 views in less than 24 hours.
— Warrington Wolves (@wolvesrl) April 12, 2019
Build up to tonight’s match against St Helens – who lost their first match of the season to Catalans last time out – has also seen banter exchanged between the two club’s twitter accounts, each posting videos of defeating their opponents. It has got fans talking, interacting and making noise about rugby league on social media, a tool the sport has probably not utilised to it’s fullest in recent years. It is great to see and the hope is that other Super League clubs – indeed, other rugby league clubs – can follow the lead of Warrington in promoting their club, the competition and the sport.
Of course, the on field success is vital to this and has no doubt played it’s part in creating a real feel-good factor around the Halliwell Jones Stadium and, with a Women’s team also kicking off their first season this year – captained by Roxy Mura, a guest on next week’s Rugby AM – Warrington are certainly a team who seem to be doing all the right things and are reaping the rewards as a result.
What are your views? Do you think Warrington are leading the way in Super League with their social media work and fan engagement? Let us know!