Nowadays, brands are fighting harder than ever on the battle field called social media for as many followers as possible; none more so than football clubs. As a community sport, the importance of gaining a huge fan base is pretty clear, but more importantly, can a club’s social media following drive an increase in their revenue?
Recently, KPMG’s Football Benchmark team analysed the correlation between the most popular clubs’ social media followers (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and their commercial revenues. Since September 2014, the combined social media followers of the top 10 most popular clubs across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter has jumped by 70%. Thanks to the great efforts at reaching fans in all corners of the globe by those football clubs, a remarkable rise has been witnessed — as demonstrated by the fact that Manchester City operates Twitter accounts in more than ten different languages and Real Madrid’s Arabic Twitter page alone is followed by 5.7 million people.
Looking at the chart below, it is obvious that the surge of followers on social media has often been accompanied by an increase in commercial revenues. A successful example at individual club level is FC Barcelona, which, in the 2014/15 season, recorded a 34% increase in commercial revenue (€207m to €278m) and 31% growth in social media followers (105m to 138m).
Although the research does nor conclusively prove that more followers guarantee higher revenue, it does hint at a strong correlation between the two. There are many factors which can affect the revenue of the football clubs, such as the duration of commercial agreements, the capability to negotiate advantageous sponsorship deals, the location of the club and many others. However, it’s undeniable that those football clubs who focus on driving fans’ engagement are likely to develop a competitive advantage. So generating fan engagement and harnessing and growing a fan base on social media will be crucial for the football clubs in the future.