Premier League clubs dominate social followers rankings
Across the four networks there are 39 teams represented from 38 different clubs. 15 leagues in 13 countries, seven in Europe, three from the Americas, two from MENA, and one Asian league.
Twitter is a primarily a microblogging channel, and is as much about individuals sharing information as broadcast or social discourse. Ten leagues are represented in the top 25 clubs pm Twitter, with England’s Premier League as the dominant force (six clubs). Spain’s LaLiga, Turkey’s Super Lig and Brazil’s Brasiliero each have three representatives, with LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona as the only clubs to break the 30m followers barrier, and the team in 25th place have just over a tenth of the followers of the team in number one spot. Saudi League’s Al Hillal (8th) outpacing Juventus is a surprise, and Egypt's 16th placed Al Ahly throwing shade to 17th placed Bayern Munich.
Facebook has the biggest userbase of the social networks and the first of the four that clubs grew a fanbase on, and the likes or follower numbers tell that story. Eleven leagues are represented on Facebook, Premier League again leading the way, but a good showing by Serie A and LaLiga. Real Madrid and Barcelona are the only clubs to break the 100m likes threshold, with Manchester United the only other team in excess of 50m likes. Indonesia Liga 1 team Persib Bandung (21st) are close to amassing 10m likes.
Instagram is a mobile first image and video sharing app, and was purchased by Facebook in 2012. Eleven leagues are represented on Instagram, with the Premier League up to seven representatives, with 2016 PL Champions Leicester City in 25th place. LaLiga and Serie A both have three entrants, with LaLiga teams Real Madrid & Barcelona claiming the top two places again, with more than double the followers of third placed Juventus. Barcelona's prowess in social media is displayed here as their B team make 19th place, higher than Brazil's Corinthians, Holland's Ajax and Argentina's Boca Juniors.
TikTok is a video-sharing social networking site that emerged from a music sharing app popular with young teens across the globe. The channel started to gain traction in sport in 2019 with clubs and high profile athletes getting on board and creating video content for TikTok's young audience. As shown by the follower counts, TikTok isn't commanding the audience of the other networks as yet, but it is currently growing faster than the other networks. Eleven leagues are represented, with Barcelona claiming the number one spot, whilst Real Madrid lag behind in 3rd place below Liverpool. Manchester United are still to make their debut on the channel, however the Premier League has seven representatives, with Sheffield United in 17th place and Watford behind in 19th position, whilst Germany claims four spots in this list.
Soccer is the global sport
Soccer’s influence covers the globe, and with the lack of live matches during the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to look into how these clubs are handling their online presence. The ‘superclubs’ dominate the lists, with Real Madrid & Barcelona enjoying first and second spot on three of the four, the exception being TikTok, where Liverpool edge out Real into third place. Barcelona’s popularity is there for all to see, their B team, playing in the third tier in Spain, even feature on Instagram Top 25.
England’s Premier League has nine representatives in total, the clubs benefiting from the popularity of the Premier League across the world, with Manchester United placing as the only club consistently in the top five on social networks who have not yet launched on TikTok. However, it may be just a matter of time until they begin their journey on the new channel - fellow Premier League team Arsenal have just taken the first tentative steps TikTok.
The surprises to the casual football fan, but not to the soccer business community would be the inclusion of the teams from Saudi Professional League Al Hilal & Al-Ittihad and the Egyptian Premier League’s Al Ahly & Zamalek, on all 4 social media channels, due to the success in their respective countries as opposed to global success. For example, Al Ahly is known as the ‘Club of the Century’ although they may not be the most well-known team worldwide, they have a significant number of supporters due to the 99 domestic trophies they have achieved throughout the history of the team.
It will be interesting to see over the coming months with the possible return of football or otherwise, how these clubs will adapt to being so online focused and whether we’ll see any major shake-ups within these top scores.
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