The best football in Europe is changing, and Bayern Munich is feeling the effects. In tz series “Mia san Mia” we take a look behind the scenes.
MUNICH – The world of football is in turmoil. In England and Southern Europe, oligarchy and debt lords are changing the rules of the game by investing billions. In Europe’s best football, there is only one constant walking away from this business practice – and it still celebrates outstanding successes: Bayern Munich. In the series tz Mia san Mia – How Bayern combine tradition and future, we take a look behind the scenes and show how Bayern will continue to exist in the future. With professional footballers, basketball players or as the owner of the Allianz Arena. Today: Stefan Meinrich (53), Director of Media and Communications / Managing Director of FC Bayern Digital & Media Lab, on the club’s digitization.
Mr. Minreich, Bayern Munich is posting one record after another on social media. Last year, for example, record growth in Germany on TikTok with 3.4 million new followers and on Instagram with more than 5.4 million new fans. What is the secret of success?
Minerich: The most important factor in this development is FC Bayern itself, its successes over 100 years, its turbulent history, its values and the people involved – players, coaches and club officials – from the past and present. But the people who create content for our platforms 365 days a year are also important. Our social media team consists of distinguished experts who are also ardent fans of Bayern Munich. The club’s media team is close to the team, and we can often provide a “behind the scenes” look. And we show FC Bayern for what it is: a Bavarian club at home in the world.
What is the next step in digitization?
Mainrich: We will focus especially on personalization. In the future, we would like to be able to treat each fan individually with personalized content. A fan of Robert Lewandowski should be shown content by Robert Lewandowski, a fan of Manuel Neuer A video of Manuel Neuer as a welcome on our platforms. In addition, the content should be optimized according to the respective country, time and end device of the user. However, this only works on so-called proprietary media platforms, i.e. on specially launched websites and apps. We’re just getting started, which is why we’re reorganizing ourselves internally.
Minerich: Bayern Munich is a “Bavarian club that lives at home in the world”
How does FC Bayern behave on market-specific platforms such as WeChat in China?
Meinrich: We make sure that the content is ‘Bayern-like’ all over the world, and that the main events and style of FC Bayern are transmitted globally. Because wherever Bayern is, Bayern must be the same. But we prepare content in China differently than in the United States and in Germany differently than in the Middle East, because users in different regions have different expectations for content. Community management and tone also vary greatly from region to region.
With Julian Nagelsmann, Bayern Munich now has a coach who already has TikTok experience and a live Q&A. Do these digital interactions keep more fans?
Mainrich: Julian Nagelsmann is generally very welcome by our fans which is why the content we produce with him works so well.
Which stars get the most attention?
Mainrich: Just like in the real world, our top stars like Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller are attracting the most attention online. Alphonso Davies is also very popular in the digital world, and his content is well suited for social media.
Could other documentaries like ‘FC Bayern – Behind the Legend’, shown on Amazon Prime, be envisioned in the future?
Minerich: The results of this documentary series have been very good. Ratings on Amazon Prime, the number of visits, feedback from fans – all this is very interesting. A similar project could be envisaged again in the future, but nothing concrete has been planned yet.
Bayern Munich: “Emotional attachment to their fans” makes the record champions unique
What are the target groups that Bayern Munich want to tackle in the future? Which markets are getting more important?
Minerich: In addition to our domestic market, the USA, China and Southeast Asia, but also Central and South America are the focus of FC Bayern and therefore also our digital activities. We have editorial offices in New York, Shanghai, Bangkok and Cairo to deliver market-oriented content and to communicate closely with our local fans. We also want to optimize content for a very small target group. Snackable, interactive or gamified content are just a few of the keywords here.
In the fall of 2021, Facebook switched to Meta. Company President Mark Zuckerberg wants to build Metaverse. What role will this virtual world play for FC Bayern?
Mainrich: We want to reach our fans wherever they are, and also in the future also in the Metaverse. But here too, we have to make sure that our performance matches Bayern Munich. What makes FC Bayern unique is its emotional attachment to its fans, so we have to offer our users a great experience in Web 3.0, to be ‘like FC Bayern’. We took our first steps with our VR experience, but there’s still plenty to do, that’s for sure. Blockchain, decentralization, sharing, “work experience”, cryptography and NFT – great opportunities open here.
Bayern Munich: “It should be fun for our fans”
Alphonso Davies already owns his own NFT collection. A digital trading card was recently sold by Jamal Musiala from Sorare for 109,000 euros. When will Bayern Munich launch its own matches?
Mainrich: We already have a partner for NFT in Sorare. But of course we will expand our activities in this field. Here too, however, the following always applies: We are not concerned with a ‘first mover effect’, but it should be fun for our fans and then FC Bayern will also be successful in the long run.
FC Bayern Media Lab is working in tandem with start-up exhibition Bits & Pretzels, where the club’s subsidiary will be connected to emerging networks in the fields of sports, technology and media. why?
Minerich: Cooperation with Bits & Pretzels is very beneficial for us. We learn a lot in this network, both from innovative startups and from experienced digital entrepreneurs. We also meet potential cooperation or investment partners here. In the digital world, you can stay informed by always putting your ear to the tracks – figuratively speaking – in order to hear the oncoming train approaching in time. And the best way to do this is through constant interaction with the most creative people in the industry.