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The Global Digital Football Benchmark Study has been released. Twice a year, during the summer break and at the beginning of each year RESULT Sports shares the status quo of Football Clubs around the world and their digital communities on social platforms.

RESULT Sports monitors the community evolution on 28 social platforms, updates this number frequently, as sport organisations evolve their presence. The Global Digital Football Benchmark reviews for the first time ever the status on fifteen social platforms. Never before has such an extensive research been released in a single benchmarking studies.

Founder & CEO Mario Leo “It is always our aim to enable a fair benchmarking process. Last summer we included the Chinese Clubs into our study, as SinaWeibo, YouKu, WeChat, Tencent and RenRen had been widely adopted and we wanted to have a full global benchmark.

This time we increased the number of social platforms to fifteen, especially to include vKontakte for the Eastern European teams, LinkedIn for the B2B platform and specific interest platforms, such as SoundCloud, Flickr, Dailymotion, Pinterest, Foursquare, Periscope and Google+.”

Across the globe we see Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and SinaWeibo as the largest platforms, with the biggest communities for all clubs shared in the benchmarking report. SinaWeibo seems to be the preferred gateway to Chinese football fans, especially for the local teams, but also European Football clubs show a strong presence and gather large communities. In fact, Manchester United captures more fans on SinaWeibo as the strongest Chinese club, Guangzhou Evergrande.

“Growth continues across the majority of platforms!”

Communities on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and SinaWeibo keep growing

One aspect to consider is the following: In a majority of football clubs digital resources remain limited and therefore an increased social platforms presence cannot be realised. The cause is mostly simple: The Digital Potential is not fully understood yet, digital transformation not in the pipeline and the social platforms are “only” news distribution channels.

This phase is long surpassed by innovative clubs, who do focus to attract a global community to its official presence on a social platforms. At this stage they detect the cultural differences in the audience and this requires a unique approach in each region to attract and grow the online communities. And that’s the moment when Cultural Marketing comes into play: For example, in Japan short updates (via Twitter or Mixi) and stories (via LINE) are ideal to engage the audience, while football fans in Indonesia do like entertainment and spectacular goals on Facebook.

“Teams from Americas Region focus on major platforms…”

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are core focus

Teams from LATAM have their communities on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – while YouTube and special interest platforms don’t reach the larger audience. Plus the specific language platforms SinaWeibo and vKontakte are not presented at any of the clubs in the Americas, with one exception – New York City FC, because of its affiliation to the City Football Group have an official SinaWeibo presence.

Now let’s focus on the evolution – 207 football clubs around the world capture more than one million follower on the fifteen social platforms and therefore enter the benchmarking study. The summer 2018 edition featured 198 clubs – an increase of nine teams, three from Europe, two from Asia and four from the Americas.

Global Digital Football Benchmark – Top15 clubs

The Top 15 remain unchanged in terms of clubs, but the effect of Juventus signing Cristiano Ronaldo is immediately impacting the ranking, as Juve passes PSG and Liverpool FC and moves into 8th position.

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