World Football Summit speaks exclusively with Albert Salas, communications director at RCD Mallorca, who are outperforming the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid on social media. This interview features as part of the latest edition of WFS Digest, our new insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practises from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.
Albert Salas is communications director at Real Club Deportivo Mallorca and has started the New Year celebrating. In January, his team clocked in as LaLiga’s club with the highest average media views on Twitter, above the likes of Spanish giants FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. “This is data from Blinkfire, the agency that measures all our traffic in Spain,” Salas explains in conversation with WFS Digest: “Last year we were among the top three clubs on Twitter, it’s quite a boom!”
“We try to provoke the ‘what is this?’ reaction. Be entertaining, explain something with platforms that are not digital sometimes, but create conversation.”
Five years after leaving his job as a sports editor in the Balearic’s regional television networks to work in a club relegated to Spain’s third division, Mallorca’s profiles have become quite a success story in the stormy world of social media. One important factor has been Takefusa Kubo’s popularity in Japan. But the data from January seems to consolidate the club’s general communication strategy, “trying to tell news differently, signings, renewals, all supported by videos.”
Salas acknowledges that Real Betis was the first Spanish club that “began to do things in a unique way, similar to ours, and they actually do it very well. What we want, with each post or piece of news, is to send a message.” He mentions the example of Kosovo international Vedat Muriqi, their latest signing, “who is generating huge engagement. We recorded a video in which a fan plays at being a coach. And, actually, Muriqi only appears at the end of the clip. You see a fan who’s trying to sign players, trading in the metaverse, a parallel world where you think you control everything, and there’s a knock on the door and it’s Muriqi. He goes from the metaverse to reality in an instant. All of us fans play in January at being sports directors and the rest of the year we’re coaches. We want there to be something beyond announcing the next signing. And it has been played even more than Kang-in Lee’s or Kubo’s announcements.”
WATCH: Mallorca make a fan head coach for the day
What is the guiding principle in their content publishing strategy? “We try to publish few things, but well. If it were for myself, I would even remove the minute by minute posts during matches! I like everything that comes out to be very justified. Of course, you must pay attention to the commercial and marketing departments, and to our sponsors, but I’ve adopted a certain fundamentalist perspective about always publishing quality audiovisual content.”
Mallorca’s instability during the last five years, during which the club has played in five different divisions, has required different tones of voice. “You have to adapt your speech, of course,” Salas explains, “because one year you’re suffering, another growing, now we suffer a little bit again. Promotion from the third division is very difficult, just look at the historic clubs which are still there. You can do things well, a video that wins an award at Cannes, but if the ball doesn’t touch the net, it’s no use. No communication department of any team wins a Champions League.”
Mallorca’s audiovisual commitment has a star product on matchdays at their stadium. Play Red Live is “a format designed for the Internet that’s broadcasted exclusively on YouTube for five hours. Everything has already been invented,” concedes Salas. “Real Madrid and Barça do a pre-match programme with one camera focusing on the pitch, and we try to go a little further, with a set inside the stadium and many cameras showing the audience, the mascot, the changing rooms. It’s something very interactive and complementary. We’re never going to replace the game itself, but it works very well. In the last one we had 30,000 spectators. Then during the week we cut bits that help us a lot, interviews, etc. Very direct and interactive. We know that people after the pandemic have digitised themselves and changed habits, and they live with their smartphones in their hands. We’ve translated that programme into Korean, Japanese and English when we play early in the afternoon (in addition to Spanish and Mallorcan). We try to expand the market, broaden our horizons.”
¡Puede que no vuelva a suceder…o sí!
???? Media views average on @Twitter en el mes de enero. Carpe diem, equipazo, sonreír y a seguir con la ???? encendida.
— Albert Salas (@AlbertSalas1981) February 6, 2022
On YouTube, they were also in the top-four across the 2019-20 campaign, despite relegation. “In 2020 we were fourth during the entire year, thanks to the tremendous influence of Take Kubo, with everything subtitled in Japanese. He’s very strong in his country, a true protagonist. And we had a Japanese sponsor on the shirt, so it was good for everyone. Now we’re no longer ‘Taketube’, we have reports, videos articles, playlists.”
With everyone trying to stand out from the crowd with compelling videos and storytelling, where does Salas believe successful differentiation comes from? “Thinking and turning things around. Failing many times. If you have something to say, you have to get distance from the mere fact, look for a story behind the newly signed player, a series of connecting points. We did it with Salva Sevilla, for example, which was announced by Jordi Hurtado, something amazing. Sometimes with 20 seconds you explain the what, the how. Jordi Hurtado is in tremendous shape, and the parallel with Salva Sevilla was understood by everyone, it worked spectacularly. We try to filter all these elements and keep what’s important.”
After 20 years of digital revolution, is there a return to basics? “Of course. We have announced a player’s renewal (Martin Valjent) on a hoarding near the stadium, bounded with chains, as if we had kidnapped him until 2025. He’s with a drink, Laccao, which is a typical Majorcan drink, a chocolate milkshake, and very popular. If you’re from Mallorca, you defend it to the point of exhaustion. And there’s the metonymy: he has liked Laccao so much that he stays. We’re talking about a hoarding, a non-digital support. And we didn’t say anything, we just waited for it to get digital. People took photos and by mid-morning, the social networks were flooded with ‘What is this?’ Sometimes they’re very simple things, without too many turns of the screw. Like the renewal of Antonio Sánchez, with a full page in the newspaper and a reference to a wedding. With each signing or renewal, we try not to publish the classic photo with a text. We try to provoke the ‘what is this?’ reaction. Be entertaining, explain something with platforms that are not digital sometimes, but create conversation.”
This interview features as part of the latest edition of WFS Digest, our new insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practises from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.