Manchester United's Juan Mata says social media offers the 'greatest chance of positively influencing people' for good causes

Manchester United's Juan Mata: Social Media helps us gain better insights into what our followers care about"

A handful of footballers are using their prestige and social media to help give back to society in a campaign conceptualised by Dark Horses titled 'Common Goal'.

It has the benefit of featuring Manchester United's playmaker Juan Mata who is urging footballers to pledge 1% of their salary to charities through the campaign.

The Drum speaks with Juan Mata to find out if he thinks campaigns such as Common Goal have the power to influence people for the better.

He says: “I believe campaigns that are able to merge the importance of social responsibility with an already massive community, such as football, stand the greatest chance of positively influencing people. Common Goal is about more than just footballers making the pledge. It’s also about setting an example that encourages the broader community to think meaningfully about giving back.”

Social media accounts serve as engagement channels and commercial platforms, they enable footballers to control the narrative and build an affinity with fans. This year the football transfer window found new life with social video from Everton, AS Roma, Yeovil and Dugout, for example.

As to how has social media influences other players and him, Mata says: “Social media opens up a direct line between sports people and sports fans, which allows us to gain better insights into what our followers care about and are driven by. From a Common Goal perspective, it’s been great to see so many fans rally behind our vision for the game on social media. I have no doubt this positive response has helped encourage more players to join.”

German footballer Serge Gnarby also told The Drum that Common Goal can help imbue the younger generation with the positive values that football teaches.

He says: "This is one of the many factors that inspired me to make the pledge with Common Goal and support football charities that empower disadvantaged young people around the world. By teaming up with Common Goal, I hope I can encourage more players to consider social responsibility in their lives and join me in making the pledge.”

As football is arguably the mostpopular sport on the planet, it empowers the campaign, he adds: "Collectively, our actions as players have the potential to set an example for many others to follow. It’s not hard to see how this could really take off and inspire a new culture of giving not only from footballers but also the broader football community.”

Steve Munachen, creative director at Dark Horses who masterminded the campaign says: "Ultimately we wanted to create a sense of 'team' around the Common Goal movement. The idea was that one footballer, no matter how famous or skillful they are, could never achieve as much on their own as they could with others alongside them, working together towards the same goal."

Its a Herculean task for brands to convince footballers to come aboard. Brand football remains extremely marketable. Chinese football fans are heavily influenced by clubs sponsors and marketing. So far, Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa, AFC Bournemouth's Charlie Daniels, Alex Morgan, Mats Humels, Alfie Mawson among other names have joined the Common Goal initiative.

As to how Common Goal managed to recruit so many players, he says:"There has been no convincing necessary. Footballers across the world have proactively come forward looking to join the movement. The Common Goal movement has so many benefits, the main challenge for us was to generate mass awareness amongst professional footballers, who are a very difficult group to target."

"Using Juan Mata's own channels and by engaging key football influencers we were able to get the movement talked about in football locker rooms, and that's where the real impact of the marketing has been."

Juan Mata continues to recruit more Common Goal and remains quite active on social media to promote it among his fans. He also leverages Manchester United's social media which continuously retweets and shares his blog and thoughts. Recently, Mata organised a photography exhibition featuring pictures from his trip to India for Common Goal at the National Football Museum Hall of Fame in Manchester which was supported by Manchester United.

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Taruka Srivastav

I march to the Indian beat of The Drum.

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