Walking Alone: Top Football Clubs use Twitter for Broadcasting

Social Media FootballWe are very grateful to those in our network who alerted us to two very useful web sites for those interested in how sports marketing organisations are using social media – in this case football (or soccer to our North American friends :-)). Folos.im publishes a daily update of ‘the follower counts for all of the Official Twitter football clubs we can find’. Football Marketing have just published their July update of the combined Twitter “followers” and Facebook “likes” for world football clubs. The teams are ranked by their combined number of fans across the two sites. Only official Twitter and Facebook sites are covered.

As many of you will know, we have also been publishing regular monthly updates of our own Facebook League table for the Top 20 Clubs in Europe. Given the comprehensive coverage provided by the two other sites mentioned, we may stop publishing our own numbers league table. This will provide us with more time to focus on the ‘so what’ question rather than publishing raw numbers, as important as these are.

The last year to eighteen months has seen major progress by the world’s top football club in their use of social media, especially Twitter and Facebook. For example, the top four clubs in Europe now have more than 55 million Facebook ‘likers’ – Barcelona, Manchester Utd, Real Madrid and Arsenal. However, this begs the question, what are they using it for? Are football clubs using Twitter and Facebook to actively engage with their fans or as just another broadcast channel.

twitter footballTo begin answering this question, we undertook a small pilot evaluation of recent tweets posted by the top 20 clubs listed in the folos.im table. A sample of 40 tweets were examined for each club and classified into one of three categories – a ‘reply’, ‘retweet’ or 'broadcast' message often with a link back to the official web site or Facebook page.

Although based on a very small number of tweets, the results indicate that the top 20 clubs are using Twitter mainly as a broadcast rather than engagement platform, with only a few exceptions.

Key findings (see attached table) are as follows:

* The top 20 clubs have over 7 million twitter followers

* Very few of the clubs ‘follow back’ – with less than 5% of followers receiving a follow back

* Of the 800 tweets examined, only 77 (9.6%) were ‘replies’ with a further 16 (2%) being ‘retweets’. Over 88% of tweets fall within the ‘broadcast’ category. For some clubs, Arsenal, Palmeiras, Spurs and OM, this increases to 100%. The club with the highest proportion of non-broadcast tweets is Liverpool.

Given the very small sample of tweets covered, we would not claim scientific rigour in our research. However, the findings do indicate a misunderstanding or misuse of what Twitter is meant to be about by the world's leading football clubs.

We would be very open to collaborate with and undertake joint research with others who have an interest in football/social media interface.

As usual, comments and feedback very welcome.

Take care

Jim, Vincent, Alan

Top 20 Football Clubs Twitter Engagement


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