Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Adam Hulme, Head of Social Media at Liverpool Football Club!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I’m Adam Hulme and I’m currently Head of Social Media at Liverpool Football Club. Prior to my role at Liverpool, I worked as Social Media Manager at Everton Football Club and BT Sport. I’ve also held various media roles at Queens Park Rangers Football Club and Chesterfield Football Club.
What do you do in your current role?
As with anybody working within sport social media, the role is incredibly diverse and touches almost all areas of the club on any given day. I lead the club’s social media strategy and manage a small but incredibly talented social media team based out of our offices at Chapel Street in Liverpool – or out of everyone’s spare rooms at the moment! I also manage all our international social teams that are based in market all around the world (Egypt, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, China, Japan and US) to ensure we reaching and engaging fans through local and relatable content.
The role has developed and evolved significantly since I arrived in November 2017 with social media becoming more embedded into key areas of the club, from partnerships to football operations.
However, creating social media content that excites, engages and informs our fan base all around the world is at the heart of what we do each and every day, and having a very strong content-first approach helps drive this forward.
What does a normal week look like for you?
We always have a production meeting to start the week. This involves all sub teams of the Digital Media department (including TV staff, journalists, video editors, production staff, social media team) and is chaired by our Director Media Production and Operations – it provides everyone with clarity of what is taking place across the department on each day. Following on from this, my team gets together with our Digital Video team to plan out content for the week ahead and brainstorm ideas for the following weeks. The end/start of the week is mainly taken up with planning for matchdays and content.
Over the course of the week, my role is split across meetings, planning and content delivery. However, I still remain heavily involved in matchdays and hands on channel management. The industry is moving so quick, maintaining relevance and experience in an ever-changing live environment (and not just what people are saying about subjects) is an absolute must.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’ve always been interested in sport, primarily football, from playing at school/weekends to studying Exercise and Sports Science at College. However, when I finished college, I didn’t really know what step to take next. I ended up continuing my Exercise and Sports Science studies at University but dropped out after a few months – it just didn’t interest me enough. During a few years out of education, I decided to explore what other areas of sport would take my fancy and it was around the same time that Sport Journalism courses were starting to be introduced (2007). I decided to go back to university and enrolled at the University of Huddersfield studying Media and Sports Journalism.
It soon became apparent that the hands on side of the course was where I really got my kicks and it was at that time I slowly realised I wanted to work at a football club. During the three years of my course, I worked part-time at my local team Chesterfield Football Club covering the youth team, eventually working my way up to covering the first-team. During the summer when I eventually finished university (2010), Chesterfield were moving to a new ground and a media position became available. It still remains one of my most treasured years working in football media. Although it was a media role, I pretty much covered everything from typical media duties to creating team hype DVDs for the players to watch minutes before stepping off the coach, to creating player analysis edits for the manager and even driving players cars back from games! Getting involved at a lower league level allowed me to have a lot of ownership, gain a lot of experience across things I normally wouldn’t do, build my confidence up (it’s a fairly unique working environment) and make a ton of mistakes (which have helped shape me to this day).
In 2011, a position was advertised at QPR in London. It was for the role of multi-media assistant with the JD covering filming, video editing and social media. I had just come off the back of three years working part-time (basically full-time) during university and one full-time year at Chesterfield (who had just won League Two). I decided it was worth an interview at the very least as QPR had just been promoted to the Premier League and I had naturally gravitated towards social media (it was early days) and video editing during my time at Chesterfield.
I was fortunate enough to get the role, which started as a 12-month placement, but I ended up at Loftus Road for four seasons. This period pretty much prepared me for everything that has followed since – first season ended with survival Sunday (I was fortunate enough to be at the Etihad for ‘that’ classic 3-2 against Man City), second season the club was relegated, third season the club was promoted via the play-offs in fairly unique circumstances (Bobby Zamora’s iconic 90th minute winner) and then in the fourth season experienced relegation again. Because of the extremes during this time (relegation, promotion, a ton of new signings, departures, changing managers etc), I learnt a ton of professional and personal lessons.
After the second relegation, I was approached by Leigh Moore, who was the creative lead at BT Sport at that time. During that summer (2015), BT Sport had just secured their first Champions League rights package. My first interview didn’t go exactly to plan and I came away particularly downbeat that I hadn’t showed a true reflection of myself (after impressing Leigh just a few weeks early over a coffee). I accepted that this was going the last time I would step foot in the BT Sport offices and decided to ring Mike Norrish (Director of Creative and Digital – who lead the digital team) and was honest about my interview – I could easily accept not getting the role but I knew the industry was small and couldn’t accept others going away with a lasting memory. It ended up being one of the best things I did, as Mike got me in for a second interview and I ended up getting the role as BT Sport’s first social media manager.
BT Sport was a really exciting place to work (2015-2017) because it was completely different to the football environment I had only previously experienced. I learnt a ton about tech, broadcast, digital, working with talent and conducting yourself on set. I eventually decided to move back up north and always had it in the back of my mind that I would like to get back into football with the skills I harnessed during my time at BT Sport. I joined Everton in 2017 in the role of social media manager. I was only at Goodison Park nine months before eventually crossing the park to Anfield. Everton was a wonderful place with some incredibly talented people, but the position at Liverpool was too good not to consider and after a call from Miriam Sherlock (Vice President, Digital Media, Strategy and Content) I was completely and utterly sold. I’ve always craved being surrounded by talented, inspiring and forward-thinking people, and I’ve been fortunate to always do that during each step of my journey to date.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
The way that we now have to approach games and social media in general due to the COVID-19 pandemic is a new challenge and one we’re embracing as a department. We are having to think about fans’ ever evolving consumption habits and how matchdays are changing.
We’ve got a strong and proud history with helping local communities and I’m excited about doing more of this with our channels to help people across a wide range of issues and subjects.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Make the most of every opportunity and push yourself in every environment you step foot in – especially if it’s not comfortable. It’s cheesy but I’ve always accepted ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable’ and I truly believe in this. I’ve found I’ve grown the most when put in uncomfortable positions and high-pressured situations (walking onto a set for the first time or approaching footballers).
I’ve mentioned it briefly above but ensuring you surround yourself with the right people in anything you do is important. I’ve always been fortunate enough to have talented mentors. Currently in my role at Liverpool I’m surrounded with a super talented team with a very healthy desire to improve and do better – we challenge each other and we encourage open and honest dialogue at all times. It’s important not to get offended or lose spirit if someone disagrees with your views – social media, football and creative is mainly subjective and others will always different views to your own.
Any social links you want to plug?
If you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to the club’s YouTube channel. The range and quality of video content that the Digital Video team create and execute is first-class (biased, I know). Providing fans with a deeper insight into the club and showcasing players’ personalities is something the team have done well with series like ‘Inside Anfield’, ‘Bezzies’ and ‘Inside Training’.
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with Head of Social Media at Liverpool Football Club, Adam Hulme!
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