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 in the Social Media. 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 personalized 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 and often rabid fans, for their unwavering support and contribution, what they deserve. 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. In fact it is an inherent nature of Social Media to influence behavior and decisions of users subjected to time and condition. Having said all this, when it comes to sports, a game is all it takes eventually that wins a franchise its coveted patronage.
Here’s a glimpse at how some of the top sports franchises around the world are scoring on Social Media:
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 the 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 receive player’s bonus and an exclusive message from the coach, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Football Club Barcelona:
One of the most popular and revered franchises across the globe, Football Club Barcelona 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 the 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 http://www.youtube.com/user/fcbarcelona has the most number of channel views till date with a surplus of 85 million views. The viewership alone stands to testify how FCB is placed on the Social media.
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 their foundation with pictures, videos of the erstwhile players, coaches and achievements that connect with their fans who swear by them. At times it’s the simplest of things that holds the key to attraction and when it comes to Lakers’ fans, their twitter page does it like none other. Featuring Andrew Bynum’s 30 rebounds on their cover photo lets fans know how Lakers reward achievements.
Closer home, in India, Mumbai Indians lead the pack with a whooping 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 the Indian Social Media space, when it comes to sports franchises and the lengths to which they go to engage their fans is pretty impressive. While their twitter page engages fans with real time game updates, discussions and information, their Facebook page has dedicated application tabs like the graffiti that is a collection of doodles made by fans and showcased on the page. This and all exclusive associated events and bite on their favourite players along with photos, videos and game highlights is what makes this franchise a top grosser.
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 on the Social Media front. 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.
The Road ahead:
Social Media has definitely played a pivotal role in launching franchises into stellar 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 (National Basketball League), 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 and are delving more into it, there are still many others who need to recognise this exploding platform. In India, IPL franchises have already started cashing in on this goldmine of an 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 that other burgeoning sports like football, hockey etc. would start exploring and engaging their prospective fans and further their chances of glory.