The first 19 matchdays of the Premier League 2016/2017 season are over and Chelsea FC comes out at the top of the league into the new year. That said, at this point we are not discussing the performance on the pitch but are digging deep into all 20 Premier League social media accounts and how they try to interact with their audience.

The english football league brings huge excitement to millions of football fans all over the world. For this reason, it was inevitable that we take a look at the Premier League 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 analyzed for this study reigns from the season kick off on the 13th of August 2016 until the 2nd of January 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 possibility 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 are Arsenal with 37,438,561 Fans. That means that Manchester United have 1.9 times more fans than Arsenal – what a number that is!

Premier League Social Media table

The total opposite can be spotted on the English coast side. The team from Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth only has a fan base of 323,779 fans and is therefore in the 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 9,670,724 followers. Coming in second place is Arsenal FC with a following of 8,764,415.

The last place in this category, in contrast to the Facebook analysis, goes not to AFC Bournemouth but to the newly promoted club from the Teesside – Middlesbrough FC. Among all Premier League clubs, they have the least amount of followers at a mere 188,915.

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 type used by the clubs?

Let’s start with the biggest surprise – Not one of the usual suspects: Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool, 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 2,846 posts on Facebook, the “Saints” are ahead of Manchester United, which posted only 1,978 on the network. Situated in last place of the Facebook Premier League social media Posts Table is Watford FC with a mere 350 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 own tweets, you’d be wrong. They only came in fifth with 3,749 tweets. But this performance was not good enough to beat West Ham United. The “Hammers” dominate the Twittersphere in terms of own tweets, with an amazing amount of 4,998 tweets in the analyzed period: a tremendous amount of tweets relative to the time period. Bottom of the league for own tweets is the team from Lancashire, Burnley FC, with 1,716 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 are photos the most used post type. 8,859 pictures were posted to the timelines of the Premier League clubs. Interesting fact: The most picture posts were made by Leicester City FC at 1,389 photos. The second most used post type was the link post with 6,239 posts – that means every post that includes a link was counted as a link post. The most link posts were made by Southampton FC.

Last but not least, let’s take a look the post type which will definitely become more and more used in the future: video posts. Overall, 5,128 video posts were created, of which 761 were posted by Southampton FC. The Saints are going strong on using visual content for their Facebook content; 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 congratulated Cristiano Ronaldo for winning the Ballon ‘D Or. The former Manchester United player received an enormous amount of reactions on the post. Over 706,030 people reacted to the post of which 656,432 hit the like button, 40,825 expressed their “love” by clicking the heart button, 5,014 were not really satisfied with this decision and clicked the angry button, 2,134 hit the wow button, 1,348 others responded with haha, and 277 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 made by Chelsea FC when they changed their profile picture on Facebook. Two weeks prior to the change of their profile picture, they uploaded a picture of their badge that also showed a poppy. The poppy commemorates soldiers who have died in war. The new uploaded profile picture received over 573,721 reactions, of which 563,677 were likes, 8,980 love, 443 wow, 296 haha, 287 angry and 38 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.

Liverpool FC got the most retweets

After taking a look at the post with the most reactions, it is now time to reveal the tweet that got the most retweets. Liverpool FC tweeted a video using the Hashtag “#ForçaChape” to pay tribute to the Brazilian footballers that died on the flight to Columbia, where the Brazilian team was supposed to play the first leg of the final of this year’s Copa Sudamericana.

This tragic event resulted in a huge echo worldwide, so it’s not surprising that the tweet was retweeted nearly 79,000 times: more than any other tweet made by other Premier League club this season. What an impressive symbol of solidarity!

Sponsored post analysis

Sponsoring a post is not really favored by the Premier League social media managers. Notable in this relation is that almost every PL club is trusting in organic reach. Therefore, the amount of sponsored posts (in total for the whole analyzed period) was only 22 for all 20 clubs. Another interesting point? Only three clubs sponsored any Facebook posts.

But who exactly sponsored their posts? The club with the most sponsored posts last year was premier league winner Leicester City. 14 times they sponsor their posts. Coming in second place was the club from East London, West Ham United, who sponsored 7 of their posts. Manchester City sponsored only one of their posts.

Most popular Premier League #Hashtags

The three most used hashtags among the Premier League social media accounts were in this particular order: Manchester United with the Hashtag #MUFC, with its high ranking mainly due to the high followership of the mancunians Southampton FC and their hashtag #SaintsFC. On third place are Tottenham Hotspurs and their hashtag #COYS, which spells out C’mon You Spurs.

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 only staying on the 10 place of the Premier League, the Saints have the strongest social media mentality at the moment. Looking at the numbers for Twitter we found out that West Ham United dominate the microblogging platform in terms of own tweets, with 4,998 tweets. The analysis also revealed that Manchester United’s post in which they congratulated Cristiano Ronaldo for winning the Ballon ‘D Or was the post with the highest amount of likes. Another finding was that Liverpool video tweet using the Hashtag “#ForçaChape” was retweeted nearly 79,000 times.

Our analysis also took a look at the amount of sponsored post and found out that sponsoring posts is not really favored by the Premier League social media managers. Only 22 posts were sponsored in the analyzed period. To conclude our look at the first half of the Premier League Social Media we found out that the Hashtag #MUFC was the most used hashtag in the analyzed period.

That’s it for the first 19 matchdays of 2016/2017 season. We will back get to you in the Summer with a full analysis of the entire season.

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