Something Suspicious in the World of Football

Twitter Football

No we are not talking about FIFA, World Cups and brown envelopes.  We are talking Twitter followers.

Regular readers of the Energise 2-0 blog will know that the relationship between social media and football (round ball) is one of our passions.  In a series of blog posts over the last four years we have tracked the rapid growth in Twitter and Facebook followers for the world’s leading clubs – http://energise2-0.com/category/social-media-football-2/

Daily updates on the number of Twitter followers can be found at http://folos.im/

The most recent stats show Real Madrid with 13.9m followers, Barca 13.5m, Arsenal 4.9m, Chelsea 4.8m and so on.

In preparing for my recent class on ‘Social Media and Sports Marketing’ on the Master in Sport Business Strategy programme in Treviso, Vincent and I decided to investigate the rapid growth in Twitter followers in a bit more detail.  It would appear that not all is as it seems in the Twitter football world.

Using the excellent Fake Followers App provided by Social Bakers (http://www.socialbakers.com/twitter/fakefollowercheck/), we examined the Twitter accounts of the largest 20 clubs in the world by number of followers.  The findings shown in the table below are quite staggering.

According to our research, the total number of followers across all 20 clubs in October 2014 was 70.6m (yes we know there will be a huge amount of double counting here with many fans following multiple accounts). According to the Social Bakers Fake Follower App no fewer than 75.5% of these are ‘suspicious’ (60.3%) or ‘inactive’ (15.2%) followers.  Only a quarter (24.5%) of the 70.6m are ‘good’ followers according to Social Bakers.

There are only two clubs, AC Milan and Manchester City, where ‘good’ followers account for over half of the total – 53% and 52% respectively. In 11 out of the 20 clubs examined, ‘good’ followers account for less than a quarter of the total. In the case of Palmeiras, only 9% of followers are ‘good’.

We would not dare suggest that the world’s top football clubs are ‘faking it’ by purchasing fake followers to artificially increase numbers.  Cheating, after all, does not happen in the world of football, does it? If the major clubs were to adopt a more proactive approach to managing Twitter followers, however, a more accurate picture would be presented.

Who will be the first club brave enough to significantly reduce their Twitter numbers by using the Social Bakers App to force ‘suspicious’ and ‘inactive’ followers to unfollow?

Interpretation of the data shown in the Table below should be seen within the context of the methodology employed by Social Bakers and fully explained here.

If the Table below is not visible in your browser, you can access it here – http://www.slideshare.net/Energise2-0/worlds-leading-football-clubs-twitter-analysis

As usual, all comments and feedback are very welcome.

Jim and Vincent


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