Steve Feekins | Digital Content & Analysis Manager at FIFA
Hi Steve, thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. Can you tell our readers about yourself, what you currently do and how did you end up where you are right now?
I’m a Digital Content & Analysis Manager at FIFA, based in Newcastle in the north-east of England. I’ve been with FIFA for a little over a decade now and started off with the organisation as a digital editor focused on the website. Now, my work is primarily focused on the overarching strategy, planning and analysis for some of the biggest social accounts in sport — for the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup. I’ve worked on-site across varying digital teams at three men’s FIFA World Cups (2014, 2018 and 2022), a FIFA Women’s World Cup (2019) and at the 2016 Olympics. My job at FIFA has effectively been my first full time role in sports media, but prior to that I worked briefly at Sunderland AFC in their press office and at BBC Sport Online during the 2012 Olympics.
When did you know you wanted to work in football?
I’ve always loved football, but I don’t think I ever saw it as a viable career path until I was doing my undergraduate degree at Lancaster University. I got involved with the student radio station Bailrigg FM and did regular full match commentaries at the home matches of Lancaster City. I loved it, and I think it was then that I basically decided: ‘I want to get paid to watch football’.
As for my current role, I actually owe a lot to Lancaster City, and I’m also indebted to a former boss of mine — Martin O’Boyle — who gave me the opportunity to work at FIFA. I met him by chance while I was commentating for Bailrigg FM on a cold, wet night at Lancaster City. That was in 2010, from which point I stayed in contact with Martin and he gave me bits and bobs of work experience on FIFA.com while I was completing my undergraduate degree and studying for my MA in Journalism at the University of Salford. After starting with some freelance work at the BBC, and a few months interning at Sunderland, Martin called me at the end of 2012 to offer me a role which had become available. I’ve been with FIFA ever since.
As Digital Content & Analysis Manager at FIFA, can you explain what that entails and your general day-to-day responsibilities?
My core responsibilities include strategy, planning and analysis — so effectively the full lifecycle of content. I help plan the day-to-day by providing larger directional steer, and then oversee the analytical process which helps inform whether or not our content has been successful and what we can do to continually improve. This role encompasses FIFA’s presence across several social platforms, primarily the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup accounts on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, as well as the FIFA channel on YouTube. Fundamentally I’m trying to help figure out what organic content works and what doesn’t and provide actionable insights to our creative team to continually improve our output for the fans that follow us.
You were in Doha to cover the FIFA World Cup, what an experience that must’ve been! How did you find it? Any standout memories/moments?
It was an amazing experience working with a great team. The vast majority of my time was spent at the office at the International Broadcast Centre, which was a new experience for the social team to be integrated into the broadcast group. Therefore I wasn’t as ‘out and about’ as I had been at some previous events, but it was still a brilliant thing to be a part of. My standout memory from a football perspective was probably being lucky enough to see Leo Messi play — and score — in person a couple of times, most notably at the Argentina v Mexico group match, and the semi-final against Croatia.
Talk us through the planning that goes into covering such a huge tournament and what is deemed as a success from a Social/Digital Content point of view post execution?
Work started a long time before the event actually began — I produced the first iteration of our content plan around 18 months before the tournament kicked off. That was a foundation more than anything, as so much changed in the time between that document being drafted and the event beginning that it would make no sense to try and firm things up that far in advance, especially in the world of social! Generally there are so many elements that go into planning for the event — and so many inputs at an organisation like FIFA — that it becomes incredibly complex and a real team effort.
In terms of what is deemed a success, it really depends on who you speak to in and outside of the organisation — because social and digital are many things to many different stakeholders. I would tentatively suggest though that the event was a success by most of the quantifiable yardsticks that our team set out before the event. The team did a fantastic job across the board growing the accounts, reaching huge audiences with great content and converting users to FIFA’s owned and operated platform FIFA+.
What are the most enjoyable and challenging parts of your role?
The most enjoyable part of the role is no doubt being on-site at an event. That is because of the football, of course, but also because we get to work closely as a team — something we don’t get to do day to day as a largely remote-based group. There are probably too many challenges to list — in a good way, honest! However, I see them all as learning experiences and opportunities to improve — both personally and in terms of our content output for the FIFA audiences.
What general advice would you give to individuals looking to pursue a similar career path? — what are the key skills needed?
Whenever we’re looking for new candidates, we of course want people to have experience in sport and/or football, but the fundamental thing for me is that people have as broad a skillset as possible. To work in social you have to be agile, both in terms of content creation and ideation, and you have to be hugely adaptable. The platforms themselves change every few months, and what an audience expects also alters over a similar timeframe, so you really have to be open to moving with any changes as they come. Fundamentally, and it’s a bit clichéd so apologies, but just: be a nice person. For me, if you’re good, amiable and pleasant to work with, you’ll get more opportunities.
Can you share 3 useful social media tools or resources which you find helpful to fulfil your role?
None of these are strictly social media tools, but I’m rather focused on organisation / planning — so these are my picks:
- Monday.com — a project management tool that we use at FIFA to organise our content planning (it’s not free, and I’m not on commission!)
- Matt Navarra’s Geekout Newsletter — an essential weekly read for anybody working in social — https://geekout.mattnavarra.com/
- Notion — another time / project management tool which I use to organise myself, I personally use the free version — https://www.notion.so/ (I base a lot of my set-up on this YT tutorial: https://youtu.be/5Vl2mP0Ita4)
Working in sport, can be hectic, so what do you do to switch off outside of work?
I have two young children, so my life outside of work is also a bit hectic! Spending any time with my family is definitely my favourite thing to do.
And finally Steve, where can people find you on social media to connect?
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