• Leading “Social Media Fanbase Penetration” is (still) not who you might think…

    Date: 2011.06.15 | Kristian Gotsch | Category: General

    In the fall of 2010 a Loyalsticity blog post introduced the concept “Social Media Fanbase Penetration” (SMFP) in an attempt to move the focus away from volumes (e.g. number of Facebook friends) and look into what proportion of a club’s actual fanbase a club connects with via social media. SMFP was introduced as an attempt to provide a better comparison measure for social media fan reach as a club like Napoli for example will never reach the same volumes as Real Madrid.

    This past week has seen numerous of new articles published (for example on the UK Sports Network and Fotebol Finance) focusing on ranking football clubs by number of Facebook friends and although newsworthy, I believe it is time to take another look at SMFP and see how clubs do in relation to their actual fan bases?

    Below are the top European football clubs in terms of European fan bases – and their respective SMFPs:

    FC Barcelona: 25%
    Real Madrid: 42%
    Manchester United: 42%
    Chelsea: 24%

    [explanation: The SMFP number for FC Barcelona means that the club is connected with 25% of their total fan base via Facebook]

    Whereas Real Madrid was leading amongst the top four clubs in Europe in the analysis done in 2010, it is now clear that Manchester United have gained significant ground when it comes to connecting with fans via social media. Looking further down the list, clubs such as Liverpool, Arsenal and AC Milan are now sitting above 20% as well.

    Social media is also picking up with the German clubs but as is the case with for example Italian clubs (AC Milan being the exception), there is still quite some way to go and most clubs sit well below a 10% SMFP score. Looking at the major clubs in Eastern Europe who also make it to Sport+Markt Top 20 list, it is evident (even if including numbers from Russia’s biggest social network site VKontakte) that social media still has lots of potential. As comments on the blog post in 2010 indicated, it should be noted that both factors in the hand of clubs (e.g. focus on social media, mobile marketing) as well as external factors (e.g. adoption of IT, internet penetration) contribute to the differences. Nevertheless, looking at what SMFP scores that can be achieved it is clear that most clubs still have great potential “waiting” for them on social networks.

    In the beginning of this article Real Madrid and Manchester United were credited with +40% SMFP scores but that is still nothing compared to the following club:

    In first place, sitting at a staggering 78% is Galatasaray – followed by city rival Fenerbahce (64%). Galatasaray was the number 1 club on Facebook in volume until August of 2010 and although growth numbers have been much lower than the bigger European clubs, the club has continued to grow its social media involvement and has a very lively and engagement focused Facebook page.

    In a few months time we will take another look at SMFP rankings. In the meantime, however, the search will go on to see if better statistics for fan base sizes can be found. As mentioned in the earlier article the number of fans used in this article are based on European figures – as worldwide figures don’t seem to exist for all clubs or are not reliable. Should anyone know of good worldwide statistics showing number of fans, please drop me a note. If anyone even has better European numbers, these will be greatly appreciated – I personally think that some of the clubs mentioned above have many more fans than what they have been assigned.

    Until then Galatasaray can enjoy their #1 position in Social Media Fanbase Penetration.

    *SMFP is defined as the ratio between likes on Facebook and the fan base of the club. The source used for fan base sizes is Sport+Markt’s recent and highly interesting “Football Top 20 2010″