Hashtag United, an example of effective modern branding

Hashtag United is an amateur football club formed in March 2016 by YouTube personality Spencer Owen, and it’s taking the football world by storm.

Managed and owned by Spencer and his brother, the club has branded itself in a way that no other club would dare to, and it’s certainly paying dividends as the squad attracts more fans to it’s content every week than there is at Premier League football matches.


Spencer formed the club off the back of his existing reputation on YouTube due to creating content centred around the popular football video game FIFA. Using his fanbase, he formed a strategy that would challenge the conventional branding styles of football clubs, introducing this idea of a social club through the use of a ‘hashtag’ symbol in the club crest, a clever strategy that ensures they will always be spoken about as well as never forgotten.

You have to bare in mind that this isn’t simply an experiment in sports branding, through their popularity and potential, Spencer was able to form partnerships with some of the most powerful sponsors in sports such as Umbro, Xbox and EE which certainly build the foundations for a bright future.

Through the sponsorship of EE, the club were able to host the Wembley Cup and have been able to for the past couple of years. The game was pushed through both EE’s social channels and by Wembley Stadium where the event took place. Spencer Owen and his team of friends, as well as footballing legends such as Robert Pires, faced off against a team of fellow YouTube personalities in a game that was watched by 20,000 live, while over 3.9million tuned in through live broadcasts.


So is this interactive, engagement and media oriented branding effective? A resounding yes is the answer. With the audience the club has amassed, if they played at a Premier League ground it certainly wouldn’t look too empty. This is down to the clever branding strategy that Spencer has put in place, using himself as an authoritative figure to initially promote the club before using branding techniques such as the club crest and prominence on social media to attract blue-chip companies to only further it’s reputation.

With YouTube continually growing, Hashtag United is likely to grow and the further they go up the leagues, the more sports fans will take note of them. Should the club ever get close to the semi-professional/professional leagues, it will no doubt be able to trump all it’s competitors off the field.

Currently, all games are organised and played at a secret location predominantly due to security issues, with Spencer’s personal YouTube channel subscribed to by over 1.7million fans, while Hashtag United’s twitter page boasts 92.7k followers. At the time of writing, Hashtag United’s most recent video has 430,000 views in just 48 hours.

Why clubs shouldn’t run separate match day accounts

It’s a bit like your first team training at the stadium all week and then playing their games at the training ground. It wouldn’t happen.

And neither should live match coverage only club Twitter accounts.

Whether you’re Manchester United or Mossley FC, match days are your golden goose. They are the times that we waste all our weeks talking about, and the times we wish days away so that they come sooner.

Fans know what to expect. On a match day, the club’s Twitter page is going to have match updates.

Not only that, but a primary purpose for following an official club account is to find out the latest – be it latest news, signings or the latest score.

Getting fans interested for that primary purpose then enables clubs to push their secondary and additional purpose – be it community activities, selling merchandise or commercial partnerships.

Take out match day, and all you’ve got is the weekly nonsense half of which wouldn’t be relevant, or even exist, if it wasn’t for match days.

Without meaning to offend Curzon Ashton (a terrific, local non-league club run by volunteers), my visit to one of their games this week highlighted another issue that having a match day Twitter account can cause. An inactive official account!

So I attended Curzon’s league match against Alfreton on February 1st. Given the weather recently, I opted to check their official Twitter account before setting off for the match. This was what I was presented with:

So the last tweet was prior to their last match (some two days before). No score updates, no result, no match report and no reminder of the Monday night home match against Alfreton.

As the official Twitter account, that’s disappointing, particularly when you consider that there was evidence of some great engagement over on the live account.

It’s a big enough effort to get followers to one account, let alone two. The @CurzonLive account has 1,733 followers and 5,186 on the official. It’s a shame that the best tweets are being displayed on the one with fewer followers.

The main justification that I have come across for having separate accounts is that there is a fear that the large number of updates on match days can be annoying and put people off from following.

However, in practice, I haven’t found that to be the case. I manage the official @theyellows Twitter account on match days, providing live tweets from all matches home and away.

During their famous FA Cup run, Warrington Town picked up a large number of new followers, that guided them past the 9,000 mark.

Now, despite the “annoyance” of live match tweets from tier 8 of English football every weekend, that number has continued to grow past 10,000 – showing that even the fans only attracted by the FA Cup run haven’t been prompted to unfollow, despite presumably not having a great deal of interest in league matches against Brighouse Town.

If there’s a bad result, exposing your match day updates to a lesser audience may be seen as a good thing – but in the bigger picture, it is surely more logical to have everything under one roof.

  • Club match day updates are the most reliable available
  • Match day is the most important day of the week
  • Fans lured in by match day coverage may then pay attention to weekday content, such as community, merchandise and commercial
  • Match day live accounts typically have much lower follower numbers thus lower brand exposure

If you’ve got a good example of a club using a separate match day live Twitter account, please let me know in the comments!