We’ve refreshed this analysis for the new Premier League season to keep you updated about the latest developments on the usage of social media in the Premier League.

The Premier League 2017/2018 season has started and three new teams, Huddersfield and Brighton, and Newcastle United, enriched this year’s Premier League season. Since the season only just begun, we are yet not discussing the performance on the pitch or giving any predictions of the outcome of this season. What we will do is dig deeper into all 20 Premier League social media accounts and how they try to interact with their audience.

So why is a social media analysis of the Premier League important when the real results are happening on the pitch? The english football league brings huge excitement to millions of football fans all over the world, and this makes the English Football league a global marketing phenomenon. For this reason, it was inevitable that we took a look at the Premier League clubs on social media and ask some important questions. So how did the Premier League social media managers perform so far? What interesting insights are we getting from the social media presence of the football clubs? Which strategies are they using to keep the audience entertained?

Therefore, we did not only look at the rough Fan numbers of Facebook, but we also glimpsed at the performance of Twitter and also detected some trends among the Football clubs. So, who is top of the league and who is close to getting relegated? Don’t worry, in this case we’re only talking social media-wise.

Note: The date range that was analysed for this study reigns from the season kick off on the 1st of January 2017 until the 22th August of 2017.

Premier League social media fans table

Every football club relies on them and all clubs want to gather as many as possible in their stadiums: Fans. But due to the popularity of the Premier League, football fans not only show their support for their favorite club in the football arenas, living rooms and pubs all over the world. They also have the ability to show their support via social media.

Looking at the pure number of Fans, it is clear that the club with the most fans on Facebook is Manchester United. They are dominating in terms of Fans (72,115,472) and also shows what an immense brand the Red Devils from Manchester are. Runner-up is Arsenal with 37,438,561 Fans. That means that Manchester United has 1.9 times more fans than Arsenal – what a number that is!

Premier League social media

The total opposite can be spotted in England’s north. On the contrary, the newly promoted Huddersfield only has a fan base of 102,281 and is therefore in last place of the Premier League Facebook Fans Table.

So, we have done the groundwork for Facebook, but how do the numbers look for Twitter? Are they similar to Facebook, or is someone else leading on the microblogging network?

No surprise here: we see a similar picture on Twitter not in numbers of followers, but in the ranking. Again are the Reds from Manchester ahead of everyone else with 13,253,544 followers. Coming in second place is Arsenal FC with a following of 11,037,482. Interesting in this relation is the fact the german attacking midfielder Mesut Özil has more fans than the club his playing for. The same can be seen at the East Midlands. Leicester City has 1,038,887 Twitter followers, where Riyad Mahrez has a bigger followership 1,275,979 followers than the club he is playing for.

Similar to the Facebook analysis, last place goes to Huddersfield Town. Among all Premier League clubs, the “Terriers” have the least amount of followers at a mere 113,196.

Southampton FC posts the most on Facebook

Numbers of fans and followers are covered, but how do the clubs interact on the social media platforms with their fan base? Who posts the most? Is it possible to detect the most popular post types used by the clubs?

Let’s start with something unexpected – Not one of the usual suspects: Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester City, is the team with the strongest position when it comes to posting. No, it is Southampton FC that has posted the most on Facebook. With 2,791 posts, the “Saints” are ahead of Manchester United, who posted 2,668 times on the network. Situated in last place of the Facebook Premier League social media Posts Table is the newly promoted Huddersfield Town FC with 329 posts. That is nearly 8 times less than the team from Southampton.

But if you assume that Southampton is also the team with the highest amount of own tweets, you’d be wrong. They only came in sixth with 6,155 tweets. The “Red Devils” dominate the Twittersphere in terms of own tweets, with an amount of 7,062 tweets in the analyzed period: a tremendous amount of tweets relative to the time period. Bottom of the league for own tweets – again – is the team David Wagner’s Team Huddersfield Town, with 3,203 tweets.

Photo posts favored by Premier League clubs

It is time for the next aspect of our analysis in which we discuss the most used post type among the Premier League clubs. Not surprisingly, photos are the most used post type. 10,468 images were posted to the timelines of the Premier League clubs. Interesting fact: The most image posts were made by Leicester City FC at 1,788 photos. The second most used post type was the link post with 10,244 posts – that means every post that includes a link was counted as a link post. The most link posts were made by Southampton FC – 1,427.

Last but not least, let’s take a look at video posts which are definitely the one with the highest potential when you want to increase your shares: 1055% higher share rate on Facebook videos. Overall, 8,950 video posts were created, of which 999 were posted by Southampton FC. The Saints are going strong on using visual content for Facebook; A promising strategy for upcoming social media times.

The most valuable Premier League social media post

Well, so far we have looked at the amount of fans and followers and gave you a broad picture on the post behavior. Now it is time to drill a little bit deeper in the material by looking at the posts that received the most interactions.

The post that garnered the most reactions was made by Manchester United when they celebrated their Europa League victory against Ajax Amsterdam in Stockholm. The picture of the team holding up the trophy and the caption “Champions” received an enormous amount of reactions on the post. Over 1,180,345 people reacted to the post of which 1,040,421 hit the like button, 130,919 expressed their “love” by clicking the heart button,, 5,562 hit the wow button, 2,840 others responded with haha, 397 clicked the angry button and 206 clicked the sad button. The relatively new reactions are picking up pace in usage, but are still not at the level of likes.

The post with the second most reactions was also published by Manchester United FC when they defeated Southampton in the EFL Cup Final 3:2 at Wembley Stadium. The post shows a picture of Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrating the late winning goal that secured Man United’s fifth EFL Cup victory. It received over 630,271 reactions, of which 589,514 were likes, 38,114 love, 1,897 wow, 2,840 haha, 94 angry and 29 sad. Businesses and brands can learn from posting like this how many Facebook reactions their content achieve, and also get through this a better view on how fans perceive your content.

Manchester stands united

After taking a look at the post with the most reactions, it is now time to reveal the tweet that got the most likes. Manchester City’s tweet that symbolizes the unity despite the rivalry between the two clubs from Manchester United and Manchester City in the light of the horrible terror attack that took place on the 22nd May of 2017 at the Manchester Arena.

This sad event resulted in a huge world wide echo, so it’s not surprising that the tweet was liked 184,220 times: more than any other tweet made by other Premier League club this season. What an impressive symbol of solidarity!

The tweet with the most replies in our analysis period was the news of Leicester announcing that they parted ways with the former manager, Claudio Ranieri – who made it possible for Leicester to win their first Premier League ever. Unsurprisingly , this decision triggered quite a response among the fans of the Foxes. In total, over 3,684 Twitter users replied to this tweet.

The most interactive Club

The aim of almost every social media manager is not only to increase their fans and followers, but their goal is that users directly interacted with their content. Having more fans is one thing but to have more interactive fans also means something else too. Therefore, it is now time to take a look at the Interaction Rate of the clubs – this metric is also known as the Engagement Rate. Note that the following results are a combined index of the sum of reactions, comments and shares per own post, standardized by the total amount of own posts and fans.

The club with the highest Interaction Rate is Huddersfield Town, but this results has to be taken with some caution. As the sum of interactions divided by the number of own posts is again multiplied with the ratio of followers, a low or high number of people following your profile can either drag the rate up or respectively down. So, that means we have to take a look at the accounts that have a high number of followers, and also have a high interaction rate.

Premier League social media

What we can see from our table above is that Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC have huge amount of followers and are also able of engaging their audience with their content. Therefore, it is fair to say that both clubs have the most interactive fans and at the same time we have to give credits to theirs’ content strategy. They have demonstrated to rest of the clubs the value of creating high quality content in order to keep fans engaged.

To conclude on this section, the interaction rate helps a social media manager understand how successful social initiatives are in terms of driving their audience to take the intended actions.

Sponsored post analysis

The method to sponsoring a post on Facebook is used by the clubs but not really favored by every Premier League social media manager. Notable in this relation is that thirteen of the PL clubs is trusting in organic reach and only seven clubs sponsored any Facebook posts. For this did We use a machine learning based approach that detects if a certain post is sponsored or not.

But who exactly sponsored their posts? The club with the most sponsored posts last year was Liverpool FC. 842 times out of their 1,902 posts did they sponsor their posts. Coming in second place was the club from Brighton who sponsored 567 of their 1,330 posts. West Ham United sponsored 416 of their 1,267 posts.

It is time for a recap

So now it is time to sum up the findings of our analysis. We could see that Manchester United is dominating the social media sphere in terms of followers on Twitter and fans on Facebook, but are not dominating in terms of post frequency. The club with the most posts, especially video posts on Facebook, is Southampton FC. While at the moment the Saints may not be in for the title race, they nevertheless do still have one of the strongest Premier League social media mentalities.

Looking at the numbers for Twitter, we found out that Manchester United also dominated the microblogging platform in terms of own tweets, with 7,078 tweets posted in the last eight months. The analysis also revealed that Manchester United’s post in which they celebrated their Europa League victory on 24th of May in Sweden was the post with the highest amount of likes on Facebook. The tweet with the most likes was a tweet published by Manchester City – earning 183,001 likes.

Our analysis also took a look at the amount of sponsored posts and found out that sponsoring posts is not really favored by the Premier League social media managers. Only seven clubs sponsored their posts in the analyzed period. To conclude our look at the first glimpse of this year’s Premier League Social Media season, we found out that users that interacted with the official Premier League handle on Twitter also interacted with these three accounts: Manchester United, Wayne Rooney and Arsenal.

That’s it for now season. We will back get to you after the last matchday with a full analysis of the entire season.

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