Tag Archives: Premier League

30 per cent of Premier League followers are fake

Is popularity the best measure of success? Maybe in some cases, but in the world of social media it’s fraught with problems.

Following on from my last blog, I decided to look at the follower numbers of Premier League clubs in a bit more detail. Is this particular vanity metric everything it seems?

Fake followers are an increasing problem. The black market for them is worth an estimated $360 million a year. Unsurprisingly websites have began to spring up to help users monitor their own dodgy fans.


Fake followers are big business

With the help of statuspeople.com, and because I had nothing better to do with my Monday night, I set about finding out the percentage of fake followers each club has. It is worth pointing out that the clubs in question probably haven’t acquired these followers in an underhand way, but have been targeted by bots because of their popularity.

The results are as follows:

Followers Fake Inactive Active
Arsenal 2,672,000 43% 32% 25%
Aston Villa 203,000 31% 35% 34%
Cardiff City 65,000 17% 35% 48%
Chelsea 2,676,000 37% 30% 33%
Crystal Palace 57,000 18% 40% 42%
Everton 242,000 30% 38% 32%
Fulham 163,000 32% 42% 26%
Hull City 50,000 20% 40% 40%
Liverpool 1,941,000 31% 31% 38%
Manchester City 1,151,000 38% 33% 29%
Manchester Utd 872,000 30% 27% 43%
Newcastle United 284,000 32% 39% 29%
Norwich City 142,000 28% 42% 30%
Southampton 141,000 29% 39% 32%
Stoke City 135,000 30% 42% 28%
Sunderland 162,000 34% 44% 22%
Swansea City 154,000 26% 38% 36%
Tottenham 630,000 31% 37% 32%
West Bromwich Albion 96,000 27% 41% 32%
West Ham United 212,000 29% 40% 31%

It’s pretty apparent fake followers are a problem for all clubs to some degree. On average clubs have 602,400 followers, 30 per cent of which are duff.

Is this a big problem for clubs? Fake followers do nothing for credibility, however football teams are in a privileged position compared to other brands. The damage probably isn’t as severe for those as it is others, however it has repercussions on engagement particularly when tallied with the number of dead accounts. Take Arsenal, who can boast over 2,672,000 followers, but only 25 per cent of those are active. Only 668,000 people are getting the message.

And, of course, this exercise just further highlights the folly of putting so much stock in this sort of metric. Followers mean little if your content isn’t engaging, but they mean even less if a third of them don’t exist either.


The Social Media Premier League – final standings 2012/13

 peerindex-logo  klout-flag-square-2 TOTAL
1 Arsenal 88 94 91
2 Liverpool 86 94 90
3 Manchester City 85 95 90
4 Chelsea 84 93 88.5
5 Tottenham Hotspur 85 91 88
6 Aston Villa 81 90 85.5
7 Everton 80 91 85.5
8 Sunderland 81 89 85
9 Newcastle United 79 90 84.5
10 Norwich City 81 88 84.5
11 Swansea City 81 88 84.5
12 West Ham United 80 89 84.5
13 Fulham 78 89 83.5
14 West Bromwich Albion 76 89 82.5
15 Queens Park Rangers 75 89 82
16 Stoke City 66 89 77.5
17 Southampton 61 92 76.5
18 Reading 55 88 71.5
19 Wigan Athletic 55 88 71.5

Are clubs and governing bodies ready for AR?

Technology is moving at a million miles a minute and as a result so is the impact that it has on the ability of organisations to engage stakeholders via mobile marketing tools. To many it hasn’t been long since they truly got their hands on and heads around social media however that’s no reason not to look forward and ready yourself for what’s on the horizon.

One of the most arresting developments is augmented reality.  While the technology is currently available and accessible its use is still relatively rare, however high profile developments such as Google Glass strongly suggest that AR is about to explode.

Google Glass

Google Glass is one of many AR centric projects in the pipeline

If there was one lesson that football clubs should’ve learnt from the rise of social media it’s that early experimentation with new platforms will allow them to produce better results sooner. Clubs need to be operating alongside their support, if not trailblazing, rather than playing catch up so that they can deliver exciting and imaginative content. The same is true of augmented reality and teams should take advantage of the fact that the match day routine of your average football supporter suggests they are perfectly placed to consume AR content.

Some clubs have already taken the plunge. For example augmented reality has given Manchester City fans the opportunity to get their hands on the FA Cup and the Premier League trophy. While it’s a commendable use of an emerging technology it does little to capture the imagination of how AR could be used by football clubs in future to further engage supporters and encourage them to take action. Getting fans to turn the camera lens away from themselves and towards their environment is where the real power of AR lies.

The ability to unlock information by pointing a viewfinder, whether that be on a smart phone or pair of AR ready glasses, at a physical object is being explored across the pond. NFL clubs have begun rewarding season pass holders with access to exclusive content such as interviews. Aim a phone at a ticket and watch it come to life. Closer to home The Jockey Club have implemented a similar idea to liven up their annual review.

Layar augmented reality

A vision of the future? How Dutch company Layar think AR might look.

How long before pointing your smart phone at a stadium will present you with the latest ticket news or the live score of a match in progress? Or targeting your phone at a player will furnish you with more statistics than you can shake a stick at (and the obligatory advertisement for the kit he’s clad in, obviously)? It can’t be far off and the game has got to be ready to react accordingly.

However being prepared must go beyond simply being ready to take advantage of the undoubted benefits that AR will bring. Clubs and the footballing authorities must be mindful of the wider impact that this technology will have on the game.

While social media has given fans in the stadium a broader view of the match experience, allowing them to gain expert opinion and watch replays while burning their tongue on their half-time Bovril, AR has the potential to take this to another level completely.

Mark Halsey Newcastle United

AR would mean referees have no where to hide when they make a mistake

How would an application that can overlay stats onto visuals in real time, such as whether a player is offside or whether the ball has crossed the goal line after a scramble in the six yard box, and then feed it into the eyes of those in the stands impact upon how matches are officiated? FIFA are understandably reticent to the idea of showing replays of contentious decisions during a match on big screens, however this policy could be rendered completely redundant by the emergence of AR. Having the fans better placed to referee a game than the man with the cards and whistle would be unworkable.

The full potential of AR is a good few years from being realised, however as the old adage goes failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Fans are now weighed down with technology when they enter a stadium and while it presents great opportunities, particularly for clubs to enhance the experience of supporters, the game will face challenges too.

The Social Media Premier League – January 2013

Since clubs are using the January transfer window to revise their squads I thought I’d take this opportunity to publish the latest edition of the Social Media Premier League table.

So what can you expect in the latest set of results? Well, there’s been an near wholesale shift in the scores.  This rise means that clubs who have seen their score remain stagnant, such as Arsenal and Sunderland, have tumbled down the table. This rise can be attributed to many club’s adopting a more innovative digital comms strategy as clubs begin to understand the power and potential of Twitter.

See where how your team is doing below…

klout-flag-square-2 peerindex-logo  TOTAL
1 Chelsea 84 88 86
2 Liverpool 84 78 81
3 Manchester City 84 73 78.5
4 Tottenham Hotspur 82 72 77
5 Aston Villa 72 81 76.5
6 Everton 78 62 70
7 Swansea City 73 64 68.5
8 West Ham United 78 58 68
9 Newcastle United 73 62 67.5
10 Reading 80 55 67.5
11 Southampton 74 61 67.5
12 Stoke City 69 66 67.5
13 Norwich City 80 54 67
14 Sunderland 81 53 67
15 Wigan Athletic 79 55 67
16 Arsenal 84 49 66.5
17 Queens Park Rangers 74 57 65.5
18 Fulham 71 55 63
19 West Bromwich Albion 70 47 58.5

Liverpool’s Twitter presence goes global

We’re often told about the Premier League’s international appeal, usually when the staggering details of the next multi-billion pound TV deal are leaked to the press or the dreaded 39th game idea is floated for the umpteenth time, but social media has really brought home the allure of England’s top flight to those abroad. Check out the Facebook or Twitter accounts of any of the top clubs and you’ll see a large number of responses, many of which are from supporters based outside the UK.

Tough crowd, Rafa

They can’t boo from the stands, but they can sure leave nasty messages!

It may seem easy to ignore these supporters, after all they’re not able to boo from the stands if things aren’t going so well, but as more money flows into the game from abroad and teams decide to take their pre-season training camps to the USA, Asia and the Middle East communicating with this contingent of foreign fans takes on a new importance.

But is communicating with these supporters through your existing channels satisfactory when you take into considering the language barrier and other difficulties? Liverpool don’t seem to think so.

The past few weeks has seen several accounts created and verified simply to cater to Liverpool’s army of fans from across the globe. Supporters in Thailand, Indonesia, India, Spain, France and the Arab world will now get the latest club news in their language at a time suitable for them.

Liverpool are not the first to create foreign language social media profiles and I’m certain they will not be the last. For a fan-base that may occasionally feel unappreciated or disconnected from events that occur several thousand miles away this is a lifeline. For Liverpool it’s a fantastic way to solidify the allegiances of those Reds from far flung corners of the globe and gain access to an audience that will surely continue to grow.

The Premier League versus the NFL – Infographic

Which is better, football (the one with the round one) or football (the one with the oval one)? It’s a debate that gets the blood flowing both here and in the USA and while there’ll never be agreement on which sport is the best the chaps at Confused.com have produced an infographic to find out which one comes out on top when using social media.

As you could probably have surmised both sets of fans are fiercely loyal, but to two very different things – one the league and the other their team.

No prizes for guessing which is which!

The social media Premier League table

Last week I wrote a very short post about whether it mattered if Premier League football clubs were any good at using Twitter and I decided that it doesn’t. The basis for this conclusion was that the loyalty of your average football supporter trumps the need for new and interesting content. Hardly a ground breaking conclusion, however this realisation also made me think about how we could better discover who’s top of the social media league table.

Taking inspiration from Richard Bailey’s #socialstudent experiment I’ve used two analytical tools to study the social media footprint of the members of the English Premier League, adding the scores from both together and then halving that number to come up with the total. See where your club places below:

Team Followers Klout Peer Index TOTAL
1 Chelsea 672,155 77 64 70.5
2 Manchester City 245,280 76 58 67
3 Liverpool 763,632 78 50 64
4 Arsenal 1,278,585 80 47 63.5
5 Tottenham Hotspur 147,264 69 58 63.5
6 Bolton Wanderers 17,096 59 62 60.5
7 Norwich City 28,722 66 53 59.5
8 Aston Villa 41,389 63 51 57
9 Fulham 35,203 64 48 56
10 Sunderland 37,246 66 46 56
11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 27,740 64 45 54.5
12 West Bromwich Albion 10,922 58 50 54
13 Everton 41,993 66 40 53
14 Newcastle United 50,158 61 43 52
15 Queens Park Rangers 23,887 60 40 50
16 Stoke City 21,738 55 33 44
17 Wigan Athletic 10,173 56 32 44
18 Blackburn Rovers 13,691 49 32 40.5

(N.B. You may have noticed that Manchester United and Swansea City don’t feature. There’s a good reason for this, mainly the lack of a Twitter account for the former and an incomplete set of metric data for the latter. Don’t worry though, should either situation change I’ll post an updated list as soon as possible!)

There are a couple of interesting points to come out of this exercise, the main one being that while followers are important they are not the be all and end all. Despite a gulf of over one million followers the combined Klout and PeerIndex scores of North London rivals Arsenal and Spurs are exactly the same. Further down the list there are examples of clubs with a smaller number of followers sneaking ahead of the more recognised names.

Unfortunately I don’t expect to see Chelsea fans dancing in the streets of south west London tonight on the back of this post, after all the reliability of metric data is still up for some debate. That said I still think there’s enough here to give those of us who use social media professionally some food for thought. It’s becoming apparent that there’s more to life than just followers.

Does it matter how Premier League football clubs use Twitter?

A lot has been written about footballers on Twitter, mainly due to the antics of one Joey Barton, but not much is said about how football clubs use the platform. In the Premier League 19 out of the 20 teams have an official Twitter presence (the name of club without an account may surprise you), all of which have very different styles of communicating.

Two of the better accounts are those of Sunderland and Wolves, where a mixture of news, insight into what goes on behind the scenes at the club and personable tweets make both an interesting read. At the other end of the spectrum there’s the spam approach, with Newcastle United being one of the biggest offenders. A riveting read if you’re a fan of offers on club-branded gear, not so much for those who want something a bit more substantial.

An example of Newcastle United's twitter spam

Sorry, if you want it in pink you'll have to look elsewhere...

But does the content matter? The stats suggest not. Newcastle have many more followers than either Sunderland or Wolves do despite the fact their stream is little more than a barrage of links. It seems fans will follow their club online regardless of whether their content is actually any good. But then that’s blind loyalty for you – what’s a poor Twitter presence to a supporter that travels around the country watching their team getting hammered?

So football teams don’t feel the need to innovate online like other brands because their audience will follow regardless, but that’s not to say that it’ll always be this way. The news that the Premier League are about to embark on a major social media drive indicates those within game are beginning to take digital comms more seriously. Will teams follow suit? It’s too early to tell, but I’d still like to know what you want to see from your club’s Twitter account? I’ll include best suggestions in a later post.