So club football is over for yet another season. Off the pitch it’s been a campaign characterised by an increased use of social media by players and clubs across the country. The good, the bad and the ugly of the Beautiful Game has been played out online.
Amongst the regular controversy there have been a number of interesting and exciting ways in which clubs have utilised the tools at their disposal.
Twitter has been the main battleground, but evaluating how clubs have performed by simply looking at the number of followers they’ve accrued isn’t the fairest way to analyse their performance. After all people follow teams online because they support them and not because their social media policy tends to be good.
With that in mind I’ve produced the social media Premier League table, an analysis of the use of social media by the 19 teams in the league on Twitter (surprisingly Manchester United have yet to open an account) by using the scores generated by Klout and PeerIndex.
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|15||West Bromwich Albion||57||50||53.5|
(All scores correct as of 1 May 2012)
What does it all mean? Well, there are three conclusions we can gather from these results:
Followers aren’t everything, but they help
As mentioned earlier followers haven’t been taken into account when producing the table, simply because they’re not a fair reflection of good practice. However if we do take a gander at who is the most popular and compare it with the scores above we do find some interesting results.
While the number of followers does have a slight impact on reach and influence a huge follower count does not automatically result in a much bigger score. Just ask Arsenal – 1.5 million fans make them the most popular club by some distance, but they only manage to clock in at a relatively lowly seventh, a result that would get even Arsene Wenger the sack if it was played out in real life.
There is no guidebook available to clubs that could tell them how to use Twitter, but if there was one of the big DO NOTs would surely be spamming your followers with links to assorted expensive tat from the club shop. Fans follow their clubs online because not only is it another way to show support but they also expect to get the latest news, to level queries directly to someone at the club and in some cases they may feel like they’re getting inside information. Acting as if your followers are nothing more than potential customers means that the social media table won’t make for good reading.
Newcastle United’s feed embodies this problem. Smack bang in the middle of the standings they’re well behind other teams with thousands fewer followers, presumably due to the fact their social media channels are simply used as a conduit to promote special offers in the club’s online shop and push people towards news stories on the website. Little or no effort is made to engage with support which must be seen as a missed opportunity given the Toon Army’s passion for all things black and white.
Social media is still new and exciting so the best marks seem to go to clubs who use it as such. By this standard Liverpool are far and away the best tweeters of the bunch. The club don’t only do the obvious things right such as interact with supporters by answering questions, retweeting their comments and running competitions but have stumbled upon a few interesting ways to attract interest in the club.
One interesting example is the regular Q&A sessions, where a player is asked to answer fan questions via the club Twitter account thus stripping away another barrier between support and professional footballers. The Twitter account is also utilised to ask for the advice of the fans on relatively simple matters, such as which songs they want to hear played in the stadium on a match day.
Some of Liverpool’s best work has occurred on other social media platforms such as Tumblr and Pinterest, however the club actively drives traffic towards these sites by promoting them continuously on Twitter. The Reds know what content their followers want and they know the best way to tell them about it.
As the players jet off on their holiday’s communication teams from across the leagues will be racking their brains to see how they can capitalise on the increasing interest in social media and make next season the most accessible yet for their support. How will this affect the social media Premier League table? We’ll have to wait until next year to find out.