Exploring the Social Capital of Leading Football Clubs


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The most beautiful game of Football has a global fan following running into millions and the global football economy is valued at over US$ 35 billion involving key stakeholders such as fans, players, football clubs, broadcasters, sponsors, agents, talent scouts, regulators etc.

Therefore SinoTech Group thought it would be interesting to explore the social capital of the various clubs as determined by the social search platform, Buzz Equity (www.buzzequity.com)

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Exploring the Social Capital of Leading Football Clubs

  1. 1. SinoTech  Group  /  Social  Visibility  E-­‐Book  /  July  2012     Social Capital of Football Clubswww.sinotechgroup.com.cn / info@sinotechgroup.com.cn Copyright © 2012 SinoTech Group China Ltd.
  2. 2. Social Visibility E-Book / July 2012 Social Capital of Football Clubs INFLUENCE OF CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA ON THE SPORTS INDUSTRY Social media has a tremendous influence on the sports industry and how fans connect with sports news and their favourite clubs and athletes. The government ban and censorship of Western social media websites, also known as the “Great Firewall of China”, created the opportunity for Chinese citizens to create their own mimics of Western social media platforms in China. The increasing use of social media networks in China is creating online communities for Chinese fans to connect with each other and to have access to instant and continuous flow of information related to the sports market. Fans seek to belong to the global sports networks and to have a personal engagement with their favourite teams, clubs and athletes. Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, both popular micro blogging website in China, have approximately 300 million users. …an impressive 91% of Chinese survey respondents said they have visited a social media website in the last six month, in comparison to 67% in USA and only 30% in Japan. BestFreeOnline & Yahoo No doubt, as clones of Western social media websites, such as Youku for YouTube and Sina Wibo for Twitter, China will be a captive market that can help brands build loyal customers and increase their market share. However, language and cultural differences, the variability of this large population and government regulations create limitations and serve as barriers to market entry. So what exactly is the best strategy to capture this growing market? … currently there are 513 million Internet users in China, growth from 23 million users in 2000. As social media gains popularity China will remain a large and profitable market to capture.  www.sinotechgroup.com.cn / info@sinotechgroup.com.cn [2]Copyright © 2012 SinoTech Group China Ltd.
  3. 3. Social Visibility E-Book / July 2012 Social Capital of Football Clubs ANALYSIS OF SOCIAL CAPITAL OF FOOTBALL CLUBS IN CHINA It is not a surprise for fans to read live commentaries on social media and search for re-plays online while watching the live streaming of their favourite team playing on the TV. Even in the crowds of events fans are using their mobile applications to interact with each other and to share their thoughts about the game. Some fans take it upon themselves to record footage of the games and instantly post them online or to make live commentaries on Weibo for their friends to see. Capturing the social media market creates another venue in addition to ticket sales and sponsorship for profit generation and customer relationship building. Clubs can offer exclusive content, discounts, contests and pre-sales to fans through social media communities and entice them to buy merchandise and event tickets. In order to capture the market you should be constantly interacting with the fans on their social media communities and develop social hubs for online discussion and information sharing. Manchester United, Barcelona and Liverpool football club are all investing their resources into the growing social media communities in China, with 196 thousand fans on Sina Weibo, 1.1 million followers on Tencent Weibo and 223 thousand fans on Sina Wibo, respectively.   In order to gain a better understanding of the correlation between the global fan base of Western football clubs and their social capital, we conducted an analysis between the Buzz Equity score and 13 football clubs ranked based on fan base.www.sinotechgroup.com.cn / info@sinotechgroup.com.cn [3]Copyright © 2012 SinoTech Group China Ltd.
  4. 4. Social Visibility E-Book / July 2012 Social Capital of Football Clubs SOCIAL CAPITAL OF FOOTBALL CLUBS COMPARED TO CLUB SIZE 1. Manchester United 57 2. Barcelona 55 3. Real Madrid 69 Real Madrid has the 4. Chelsea 52 highest Buzz Equity 5. Arsenal 53 score. 6. AC Milan 56 7. Liverpool 51 Inter Milan 8. Inter Milan 50 has the lowest Buzz 9. Bayer Munich 60 Equity score. 10. Juventus 52 11. Manchester City 52 12. Tottenham 57 13. Newcastle 52 45 50 55 60 65 70 As seen above, the social visibility of the football clubs increases as the global fan base of the clubs increases. Therefore, there is a positive correlation because the ranks of the football club and the Buzz Equity score used to analyse the relationship. The more resources the football club invests into interacting with and building their fan base the more social visibility they have. The larger the fan base the more “buzz” is generated online about the football club and the more interaction fans have online with the team. Therefore, in order for a team to increase its visibility on social media platforms they must build their online global fan base. China provides the opportunity for clubs to increase their global fan community by capturing the admiration of fans in China and by becoming involved in the Chinese social media platforms.www.sinotechgroup.com.cn / info@sinotechgroup.com.cn [4]Copyright © 2012 SinoTech Group China Ltd.
  5. 5. Social Visibility E-Book / July 2012 Social Capital of Football Clubs SENTIMENT OF FOOTBALL CLUBS COMPARED TO CLUB SIZE 500 Negative Mentions Neutral Mentions Positive Mentions 450 Real Madrid 400 received the most positive 350 mentions. 300 250 200 150 AC Milan 100 received the most negative 50 mentions 0 As seen in the chart above, Real Madrid has the highest buzz equity score because it also has the highest amount of positive mentions on social media out of all the clubs and the least amount of neutral and negative comments. While in comparison Inter Milan has the lowest buzz equity score the least amount of positive mentions. In addition, Real Madrid has won a record 32 La Liga and a record 9 European Cup/UEFA Champions League trophies in 2011 and gained a lot of popularity and support from its fans for the current year. Real Madrid has been named the most popular club on social media according to FameCount.com. Real Madrid also has Cristiano Ronaldo who is an athlete with the most followers and over 31 million Facebook fans. Real Madrid is an example of a club that heavily invests in its social media. The club has 4,187,136 followers on Twitter and 29,690,972 million Facebook fans. With such a large social media investment Real Madrid remains at the top of our social capital charts as well. In comparison Inter Milan only has 39,127 followers on twitter and 78,718 Facebook fans.www.sinotechgroup.com.cn / info@sinotechgroup.com.cn [5]Copyright © 2012 SinoTech Group China Ltd.
  6. 6. Social Visibility E-Book / July 2012 Social Capital of Football Clubs S T R E N G T H , PA S S I O N & R E A C H O F FOOTBALL CLUBS COMPARED TO CLUB SIZE. 80 Strength (%) Passion (%) Reach (%) Real Madrid received the 70 most 60 positive mentions. 50 Percentage 40 30 AC Milan received the 20 most negative 10 mentions 0 Strength is another social visibility measurement tool that can be used to evaluate the likelihood that the brand is discussed online and the frequency of comments about your brand. As shown above the likelihood of the brand being mentioned online increases as the fan base of the club increases. Therefore, this suggests that fans are eager to engage with their favourite teams and athletes online and like to discuss information about their football club with other fans. Passion, which is the likelihood that people are talking about your brand and will do so repeatedly, also increases as the fan base increases. Reach, which is the range of influence, also increases because there are more fans to discuss information about the brand online. Therefore, the larger the fan base the more continuous involvement each fan will have with the team. Loyal fans are the key to the success of a club because they often share positive information online, act as unofficial brand ambassadors and engage in beneficial word-of-mouth advertising.www.sinotechgroup.com.cn / info@sinotechgroup.com.cn [6]Copyright © 2012 SinoTech Group China Ltd.
  7. 7. Social Visibility E-Book / July 2012 Social Capital of Football Clubs SOCIAL CAPACITY MEASUREMENT TOOL The Buzz Equity platform (www.buzzequity.com) evaluated how aware people are of each football team and the perception and attitude people have towards each club. Buzz Equity conducts a search of over 50+ social media platforms around the world to create a comprehensive view about the digital presence of each football club based on its reach, strength, passion and sentiment. The Buzz Equity platform makes sense of everything people are saying about each football club online evaluates “the buzz” and creates an effective standardized marketing measurement.   With the right tools, consistency and continuous exposure China presents a great opportunity for teams and athletes to gain global fans and to create online fan communities. Overall, the social capital and the passion and strength of the clubs brand increase as the global fan base increases as well. The Chinese social media usage is growing with a rapid pace, but the entrance to this growing market still remains very complex and relatively new. Word of mouth still remains the most influential form of advertising, and social media provides a platform for word of mouth trends to bloom. The two steps towards successful market entry are crafting a concrete strategy based on thorough market analysis and to have reliable and analytical measurements such as the Buzz Equity score. Buzz Equity is a product of SinoTech Group.www.sinotechgroup.com.cn / info@sinotechgroup.com.cn [7]Copyright © 2012 SinoTech Group China Ltd.
  8. 8. Social Visibility E-Book / July 2012 Social Capital of Football Clubs METHODOLOGY All data and information used within the reports were aggregated without any dialog or conversation with the respective football clubs. The reports are built exclusively based on publicly available data derived from the Buzz Equity platform, which is a free social search engine, developed by SinoTech Group and can be found at http://www.buzzequity.com. A sample size of 4415 mentions was analyzed on June 26th, 2012. The top 13 football clubs were analyzed based on their fan base ranking from www.china.org.cn. This report serves to illustrate the level of engagement that currently exists on social networks for the football clubs evaluated. Supporting data was gathered from Facebook, Twitter and ranking websites. ANALYSIS DATA Fan base Rank around Buzz based Strength Passion Reach Positive Neutral Negative Total Club the world Equity on fan (%) (%) (%) Mentions Mentions Mentions Mentions (in Score base millions) 13. Newcastle 6 13 52 37 11 56 147 137 77 361 12. Tottenham 11 12 57 25 22 50 146 144 58 348 11. Manchester City 18 11 52 32 9 56 117 114 60 291 10. Juventus 20 10 52 29 20 50 100 218 55 373 9. Bayer Munich 24 9 60 5 10 72 119 82 34 235 8. Inter Milan 49 8 50 28 11 60 90 169 54 313 7. Liverpool 71 7 51 42 17 55 126 183 79 388 6. AC Milan 99 6 56 43 25 74 104 126 56 286 5. Arsenal 113 5 53 32 27 59 123 146 73 342 4. Chelsea 135 4 52 43 10 53 146 176 73 395 3. Real Madrid 174 3 69 37 19 63 259 27 36 322 2. Barcelona 270 2 55 34 19 58 157 202 75 434 1. Manchester United 354 1 57 34 29 65 130 133 64 327 Sources http://www.buzzequity.com http://www.china.org.cn/top10/2011-10/19/content_23663971_4.htm http://sg.sports.yahoo.com/news/rise-social-media-china-user-091147549.html http://www.feelinsport.com/china-social-media/ http://blog.freestyleinteractive.co.uk/2012/05/social-media-in-china-data-facts-info/ http://www.realmadrid.com/cs/Satellite/en/1330062843284/noticia/Noticia/Leader_in_social_media.htmwww.sinotechgroup.com.cn / info@sinotechgroup.com.cn [8]Copyright © 2012 SinoTech Group China Ltd.