THE latest report from Football Benchmark highlights how social media has grown at an astonishing rate over the past few years.
When Manchester United won the Premier in 2013, the club’s twitter page was followed by around one million people. In three years, that has grown to almost 10 million. And this is only part of the story, for clubs like United have vast audiences on facebook and Instagram.
Such is the importance of social media today that at the recent Soccerex conference, sessions were devoted to how clubs and organisations can leverage their profile and content generation. And now clubs are advising their players how best to use a potentially lethal but also creative method of communication and marketing.
Football Benchmark points out that the top 10 most popular clubs on social media have seen their followers grow by 70% since September 2014. Indeed, Real Madrid and Barcelona have increased their audience by 65 million apiece during that period. Elsewhere, Paris St Germain (134%), Bayern Munich (108%) and Juventus (108%) have all seen dramatic growth.
The report also confirms some correlation between social media and revenue generation. Success on the field also helps, naturally, but Barcelona, for example, recorded a 34% in commercial income in 2014-15 at a time when they also enjoyed a 31% rise in social media followers. Football Benchmark adds that higher commercial gains do not automatically follow social media increases.
The KPMG unit says: “It is interesting to note how clubs lower in the ranking, both in terms of followers and commercial revenues, such as Juventus and Liverpool, recorded a considerably higher commercial revenue per follower than those at the top, in particular Barcelona and Real Madrid….this contrast seems to highlight that monetisation of social media followers by a football club has a long way to develop.”
The report underlines the difference between the economic strength of football clubs and the level of fan engagement they are able to generate. “As clubs focus on their efforts on driving fans from social media to their own platforms, those able to harness the potential on their global brand in the digital space are likely to develop a competitive advantage.”
Other segments of the business world, notably in the b2c sectors, have made significant progress in this direction, but as Football Benchmark concludes, the jury is out on whether major clubs can succeed in monetising their ever-expanding social media following and achieve a higher per-follower value.