Earlier this week, the twenty clubs that make up the English Premier League collectively reached a total of 100 million Facebook likes. Increasing 9.64% since the start of the 2013/14 domestic season, this substantial upsurge in likes is an impressive statistic considering the recent decrease in Facebook’s daily users.
New data has given insightful understanding into the behaviours of modern football fans on social media, highlighting the efficiency of the varying Facebook strategies employed by some of the biggest clubs in world football.
As sports teams launch localised social media feeds to target specific geographical audiences, globalisation of football has never been a more predominant topic. UK fans, interestingly, account for just 6% of the coalesced likes for the Premier League clubs, with Indonesia representing the highest following with 10%. South Korean fans have been revealed as particularly loyal to players from their home nation, with 16.5% of them disassociating themselves with Swansea when Ki Sung Yeung made his switch to Sunderland. Similarly 20% of Fulham’s social media fan base on Facebook comes from Costa Rica, no doubt a result of star player Bryan Ruiz’s home support.
It comes as no surprise that the most shared content on Facebook is imagery, nor that Manchester United receives the most shares per post (1135). However, in relation to their number of fans, their engagement levels are actually considerably poor. Fulham, intriguingly, receive the highest level of engagement per post as a percentage of their fans – 0.20% putting them top of the engagement table, despite their relegation zone position in the football league.
A serious consideration for the Premier League clubs that are not currently capitalising on their Facebook account activity (Stoke City currently average less than one post a day), it is worth investigating why the top four clubs see such success online. 80% of the 100 million Premier League likes are shared by Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, giving them an open and transparent platform on which to direct conversation and influence their fan base. Facebook is providing a hub of activity, away from a more corporate website domain and stereotypically biased mainstream media, for global connectivity and engagement.
In this modern era, clubs that fail to think properly about social media and equip and invest themselves insufficiently are missing a vital global commercial opportunity. In addition, they danger themselves in falling far behind what the modern fan expect.