Sports and sporting events have always been at the nerve centre of media attention. In current times we have seen the gradual transition of the media providing spotlight to various sports for mass entertainment to a whole gamut of revenue generating sports franchises cropping up that have relied on social media to reach out to their fan base. We will be taking a closer look at how the various league franchises are placed on social media platforms. Be it the English Premier League (EPL), National Basketball Association (NBA) or the one closer home, Indian Premier League (IPL), they have all been heavily present on various social networking platforms and engaging with their fans and prospects.
It is not only the immense reach and personalised communication that lures various teams and franchises to jump onto the social media bandwagon but also how it enables them to give back to their passionate fans for their unwavering support and contribution. From dissemination of information regarding athletes, game dates, merchandise sale and other salient bits of information to fan generated comments and content, social media provides it all.
Here’s a glimpse at how some of the top sports franchises around the world are scoring on social media:
Manchester United Football Club:
Considered to be the world’s largest franchise with over 23 million red devils (a MUFC aficionado) on Facebook and way over 200,000 Twitter followers, MU football club has one of the most dominating presences on social media. In November 2011, the club made a startling announcement of launching its very own social networking platform acknowledging its fan base of over 500 million globally. As of now, the Facebook and Twitter pages are pretty much feeding the fodder for the red devils with contests, game schedules, exclusive photos and videos, etc.
The club has created a unique ‘Sign for United’ app for its facebook page where fans can sign in to receive player’s bonus and an exclusive message from coach, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Football Club Barcelona:
One of the most popular and revered franchises across the globe, FCB has a fan base that is enviable within most sporting communities. With a fan count of over 29 million on Facebook and about 4.3 million plus Twitter fan following, FCB is arguably the heaviest player present on social media. FCB has a strong connect with its fans and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they have a dedicated tab showcasing pictures of their fans on Facebook. Besides this, there are regular polls, contests, photo and video grabs, and timely alerts so that one doesn’t miss out on a game that matters.
Football Club Barcelona’s YouTube channel has the most number of channel views till date with a surplus of 85 million views.
The distinctive purple and gold team has a healthy count of over 12.7 million unique fans on its Facebook page while the Twitter page has about 2.4 million followers. The Facebook timeline documents the illustrious history of the franchise right from its foundation with pictures, videos of the erstwhile players, coaches and achievements.
Lakers currently hold the distinction of presenting world’s biggest memorabilia collection online.
Closer home, in India, Mumbai Indians lead the pack with a fan count of over 2.5 million on Facebook and a steadily climbing Twitter fan following of about 38,000. Mumbai Indians is one of the heavyweights in the Indian social media space, when it comes to sports franchises. While its Twitter page engages fans with real-time game updates, discussions and information, its Facebook page has dedicated application tabs such as the ‘graffiti’, a collection of doodles made by fans and showcased on the page.
Kingfisher East Bengal Football Club:
The Kingfisher East Bengal FC is a franchise under the wing of I-League. East Bengal FC has the most prominent presence amongst the 14 other franchises of the recently resurrected I-league. It has a Facebook page fan following of about 330,000 and a Twitter follower base of about a little over 1000.
It is the only club to have a noteworthy presence on social media and one of the pioneers from the Indian football arena.
Social media has definitely played a pivotal role in taking franchises to greater heights. So far it is not only Facebook and Twitter that have essentially been targeted by major franchises. In fact, Pinterest, the latest platform that has been hogging a major chunk of limelight, is also gradually becoming a subject of fancy for quite a few franchises; one such franchise is the NBA’s Boston Celtics.
There is no dispute to the fact that social media enables sports franchises around the world to gain and maintain a steady climb in terms of fan count and in turn push their top line. What appears is, although there are a lot many franchises that have got the mix of social media right, many others have yet to recognise this exploding platform.
In India, IPL franchises have already started cashing in on this goldmine opportunity. The advantage of having a highly engaged fan base is that the franchises can get more willing sponsors and in turn shoot up their business prospects. It’s just a matter of time when other burgeoning sports such as football, hockey, etc. will start exploring and engaging prospective fans through social media.