When we decided to run this survey, we genuinely had no idea on what level of participation it would attract. We were generally thinking along the lines that if we got 100 honest replies, we would not just be able to fulfil our objective, but would be pleased with the level of co-operation. The fact we closed the survey after just a few days having attracted a staggering 726 replies
was simply dumfounding.That figure does not provide an answer to any specific question, but it singularly provides us with the most valuable piece of information out of the whole exercise. That is that the majority of people who use this website genuinely care. Broadly speaking, they either feel part of it, or want to feel part of it.
Throughout the existence of Charlton Life we’ve done everything we can to stress the word ‘community’, more so than an inner-London MP. It was one of the key drivers in what we wanted to achieve from the beginning, not just providing a place where people can vent about under-performing players, or another defeat, but something with Charlton at its core. We envisioned something that aided in bringing people closer together, or if it couldn't achieve that, then help them feel part of something.
The results of individual questions fully endorse that remit, so this is the most pleasing aspect of the survey for us. Not that it is seen as all as a good thing; the “clique-ness” angle crops up heavily later, and I’ll cover that in a later post.
So, thank you to every one of you who took part and answered so candidly. Sadly, not all 726 made it until the end; we lost around 70 somewhere along the way, to either boredom, death, or the boss walking past. But that was expected and the level of participation was simply staggering. Thank you.
I’ll try and break down and summarise the key feedback from the survey in four parts over the next week. Please feel free to comment on any parts.
It’s obvious, just from a quick glance at the site, that it is a very male dominated environment. That is to be fully expected from a football forum, though when the figures are set out, it still struck me as a real surprise at the extent. 95% of those replying were male, just 5% (34) female
I’ve no idea in what the adult male/female split of season ticket holders is, but I would expect it to be a closer match to what we see on here. Women are a lot more interested and involved in football now than they were 20-30 years ago and the level of attendance at games has increased significantly. Charlton Life is certainly not alone in this, the majority of forums I trawl have very low female participation. Is it that females in general are less keen to analyse and debate than blokes, or is it because attending games is something not usually done on your own, but participating on a forum is? I don’t know.
Should we read this as something we should be trying to improve on? Could we make the site more female friendly? What would that even mean? I don’t know, we try to make the forum as welcoming to everyone as is possible. Certainly this forum in its etiquette is a lot less laddish than most other forums I trawl; we’re relatively strict where we can be in terms of acceptable language, aggression, pictures and links, so I think we cover the main bases adequately. The ‘Would Ya’s’ we’ll cover later, and clearly split people on their appropriateness, but they are supposed to be a bit of light-hearted fun rather than anything smutty.
The biggest surprise of the survey was how weighted the response was towards the older generation. The most popular category was 50-64 (27%),
while a further 6% were over 65
. Effectively, a third of the members of Charlton Life are 50+, which i would assume is against the norm for most football forums, and likely to see us approaching Stannah Stairlifts and Werther’s Originals with advertising proposals. After that, the next most popular category is 41-49 (22%), the 33-40 (16%), 18-24 (13%), 25-32 (12%) and just 4% were under the age of eighteen
What does that tell us? This can be read in many different ways. Is it a straight forward reflection that Charlton has an ageing supporter base? Is it an indication that the more sensible/adult approach we try and take to moderating the site appeals to the more mature individual? Is it because the younger generation are not made to feel welcome enough by the majority of posters? Is it because writing and reading beyond 160 characters just doesn’t appeal to the younger lot?
There's no right or wrong answer to this. My personal view is that the last one is probably the most realistic. Social networking has exploded in the last five years, and I expect the age groups using Charlton related Facebook groups or Twitter to be hugely weighted towards Under25s, the opposite to what we see on here. Just 32% of those surveyed regularly use Twitter
. This is less than i thought it would be given its current vogue-ness, but though from my limited dabbling I’ve found that those individuals that do use it are very committed to it and that it is their main source of social network engagement. Facebook
for me feels more personalised and something you can easily dip in and out of, and that’s reflected with a higher usage of those surveyed (54%).
Results probably suggest that if we were looking to attract a younger age group, the Forum in its current structure is likely not the best place for that, and some other approach/platform would be needed. I would be very interested in the views of some of the younger ones on what they think would appeal to their age group more. It’s essential that if Charlton’s support base continues to grow, those in the younger categories become immersed into the club to the extent that you can’t shake it off like most of the longer-standing supporters have discovered in recent slump years. Getting them through the gates is the first part of the job; getting them further committed to the club is the greater challenge, and engaging in wider Charlton groups such as this away from match day is one way that can help achieve that.Click here for Part 2 - You and Charlton