Barcelona top the European social media league with 65.6 million followers on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn according to new research from International Marketing Reports and numKrunch.
Manchester United are in second place on 39 million followers with Bayern Munich (12 million), Juventus (9.6 million) and Paris Saint Germain (6.7 million) trailing.
The report, which monitored the champions and their respective sponsors from Europe’s leading leagues, showed that in terms of recent social media performance, Manchester United was the top club having grown its following by 3.49% in the past week. Its shirt sponsor, Aon, had grown by 1% in the same period although the best performing sponsor was Qatar Airways (sponsor of Barcelona) which had grown by 2.98% in a week.
The new reporting system, which monitors social media on a weekly basis, is designed to demonstrate social media activity by both volume and quality.
Nadio Granata, co-founder of numKrunch, points out that volume alone is fairly meaningless:
“Social media success requires a combined approach of building a following and serving them with good, engaging content. The big clubs will always generate a lot of followers, but having millions of followers doesn’t mean that it is getting its social media right. You can be an inactive follower, bored by uninteresting Tweets or Facebook messages. What really counts is how fans engage with the content.
“We have developed an algorithm, which analyses how fans have engaged with social media to provide a report that offers much more meaning. Barcelona are way out in front in terms of followers, so it is obviously more difficult for them to maintain their growth rate, the club now needs to focus on engagement. It has been very successful in this regard so far, it wouldn’t have such a level of following if that wasn’t the case. Manchester United, on the other hand, despite its much discussed global fan base running to hundreds of millions of fans, appears to be playing catch up.”
Simon Rines, editor of sports marketing specialists International Marketing Reports, which published the results on its website, says that the data is increasingly important for both clubs and sponsors:
“Football clubs are increasingly looking to social media to engage with fans and recruit more followers. However, this is also an important area for club sponsors. No longer are they happy to simply have their brands displayed on shirts. They really want to tap into the engagement that clubs have with fans to forge closer relationships. If clubs are successful at social media, then their sponsorships become worth significantly more. The report findings show that the top five sponsors combined have just over seven million followers. These are global brands with turnovers that dwarf those of the clubs – but people are not interested in following brands, so they rely on the clubs to deliver their audience.
“To date our analysis has also shown that this is an area where smaller clubs really can compete with those at the top. Social media costs very little – it simply requires an understanding of the media, the fans and a creative approach to content. The likes of Queens Park Rangers, tracked in previous reports, for example, have shown remarkable engagement with their fans and very high performance ratings in our analysis.
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Sponsors not measuring social media effectively