It’s the first long-term partnership between Facebook and a government or public body in the U.K. and will use the social networking site’s influence to bring people together around sport and transform the way sports bodies reach out to the public in the run up to London 2012.
There will be a Facebook ‘Sport Hub’, which enables national governing bodies of sport (NGBs) to engage with over 20 million people who use Facebook in the UK, and which will provide tangible measurement of the number of participants reached through the ‘Sport Hub’.
The ‘Hub’ looks will feel like a Facebook fan page but offers innovative and exclusive new applications, enabling sports bodies to organise and market grassroots sports events.
Facebook users will be able to challenge other people in their area to compete against them – whether in a squash match or a running race – and then share the results with their Facebook friends and networks.
Facebook is to provide an in-kind investment of £5 million a year until March 2013, which will cover the development of the ‘Sport Hub’, as well as pound-for-pound matched advertising spend on Facebook for brands and NGBs to use Facebook ads to encourage people to play more sport.
Students and young people who use Facebook will be the first to benefit – starting at this year’s university freshers’ week. Sport England is piloting the scheme through British Universities & Colleges Sport and six sports. The pilot has an ambitious target to get 12,000 students participating in sport in just four months.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Ben Bradshaw MP, said:
“Facebook has a unique ability to reach millions of people, young and increasingly not so young. Many of them will not regard sport as part of their daily lives at the moment, but this pioneering and exciting new partnership between the social marketing website, Sport England and sports’ governing bodies could change all that. This is a valuable way of making sure that as many people as possible know about the huge range of activities, initiatives and facilities we have in this country – so there is no excuse not to get active.”
Facebook’s Vice-President of Sales, EMEA, Blake Chandlee said:
“Millions of people in the UK are already using Facebook to connect to their friends and organise events around things that matter to them, including sport. By cleverly leveraging Facebook’s tools and advertising programmes to get more people into sport, Sport England is using our social tool as a tool for social change.”