League One football team Barnsley FC was well aware of the Twitter antics of Chris Ryder, one of its biggest fans. So when Ryder’s feed took a worrying turn, the team reached out to the depressed supporter.
Ryder, who has been a Barnsley fan for his entire life, suffers with depression, and openly talks about his illness through his social media presence.
Gauthier Ganaye, Barnsley’s chief executive, noticed that Ryder’s tweets had taken a worrying tone, and so decided to reach out to the fan by sending a letter to his home. Ganaye wrote that his “office door is always open” for Ryder, and that the team would like to “return the favour” for his loyalty to the club.
Speaking to the BBC, Ryder said:
“Initially when I saw the badge on the top of the letter, I thought ‘uh-oh, what have I done?’ I’ve been known to be a little bit cheeky, all in good fun, to the guys who run the social media page at Barnsley, so reading it, I was really shocked.”
Ryder took to Twitter straight away to thank the team for getting in touch with him and offering their support. He tweeted a picture of the correspondence, which begins with:
“Dear Chris, sorry for sending you a letter at random, but I felt like I wanted to reach out to you and get in touch. I’ve noticed through social media that you’ve had a bit of a hard time recently, I’m not sure what it is but I hope everything improves for you as soon as possible.”
Describing the team as “the best football club in the world”, Ryder’s tweet was rapidly shared across social media. He wrote:
“Never in a million years did I expect to receive this much attention from this tweet. Thank you so much for your kind messages, I’m completely overwhelmed with the amount of them. Just hope this at least helps one person to speak out about their mental health problems.”
The letter drew attention to the club’s kit, which signals it support for mental wellness. It said:
“…you may have noticed the squiggle on the back of the player lettering on the shirts. It’s for the MIND charity. They are an EFL partner this season and do some really great work.”
At Engage Web, we think that this just goes to show how powerful Twitter can be when it comes to engaging your audience. Barnsley took the time to move the conversation offline in a way that speaks of its genuine connection to its fans, but it still went viral.