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FC Barcelona is the most popular sports team on social media

Top 30 Teams on Facebook

ZenithOptimedia launches global ranking of sports teams The Social League

July 29, 2013 1:24 by

Dubai, UAE July 23, 2013: FC Barcelona is the most popular sports team on both Facebook and Twitter, according to new global research by ZenithOptimedia and Sponsorship Intelligence. The Spanish football club tops ZenithOptimedia’s new ranking of sports teams on social media, The Social League, with 43 million fans on Facebook and 9.1 million followers on Twitter. Rival team Real Madrid comes second in ZenithOptimedia’s global ranking with 38 million Facebook fans and 7.9 million Twitter followers.

ZenithOptimedia used its new proprietary research and analysis tool Socialtools to produce The Social League, which ranks sports teams around the world according to their popularity on social media*. Socialtools is a live tracking app that monitors brand performance on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It generates over 100 live dashboards that benchmark a brand’s social performance against competitors and the category.

According to The Social League’s top 30 ranking, the biggest sport brands in social media are football (soccer) and basketball teams. The top four teams on Facebook, and seven of the top ten, are football teams from Europe; the others are a Formula 1 team from Italy and two basketball teams from the US. US basketball is more prominent on Twitter, providing four of the top ten teams, while European football provides the other six, including four of the top five.

The European football teams dominate the top of The Social League as they have wide international followings. The top five teams on Facebook are FC Barcelona, Real Madrid CF, Manchester United, Chelsea FC and AC Milan. These teams get 31% of their fans from Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the US, and only 7% from Italy, Spain and the UK, where they are actually based.

FC Barcelona has more Facebook fans in Indonesia (4.1 million), Mexico (3.0 million), the US and Brazil (1.9 million each) than it does in its home market of Spain (1.7 million). This is primarily because these markets are so large – Mexico, the US and Brazil represent 27.8% of the total Facebook population, and 16.1% of FC Barcelona fans. Indonesia, however, provides 9.3% of FC Barcelona’s fans from 4.9% of the Facebook population, giving it an index** of 191. FC Barcelona has a strong association with Indonesia. It recently added Indonesian as one of only eight languages on the official website. In keeping with its number one status in The Social League, FC Barcelona has a very active engagement strategy with its large audiences of fans and followers. The club posts content on Facebook, on average, seven times a day. It has a strong news strategy, posting updates about team events, matches, player status, results and on/off season activity. Fans are rewarded with exclusive content, such as gaming apps and signed team photos.

The other team in the Facebook top 10 is Ferrari, which recently merged its Formula 1 and automotive pages to broaden global engagement with the Ferrari brand. Ferrari makes a huge effort to make fans feel part of it Formula 1 team. Its new Facebook page features The Ferrari Virtual Academy, which invites fans to take part in virtual races, configure cars to their own specifications and have their performance tracked on the site.  On average, Ferrari posts content six times a day on Facebook, and tweets at least 20 times.

Just outside the Facebook top 10, at 12th place, comes the Indian national cricket team. Another Indian cricket team – Mumbai Indians – is in at number 26. These are present thanks to the huge popularity of cricket in India and the large numbers of Indians on Facebook – India provides 87% of the Indian Cricket Team’s fans.

The top five US teams on Facebook are the basketball teams LA Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat, plus the baseball team New York Yankees. These get 46% of their Facebook fans from the US, with the Philippines a distant second at 13%. Teams from the US have more Facebook fans in our League than teams from any other country: 166 million in total, or 37% of the total. This is partly because the US also has more Facebook users than any other country, accounting for 16% of the total.

The UK comes second in our League, with 94 million fans (21% of the total), while Spain comes third, with 86 million fans (19%). Both countries benefit strongly from the international appeal of their teams, since the UK accounts for only 3% of Facebook users and Spain 2%. The US dominates the Twitter league even more, with 32 million followers, 42% of the total. Spain comes second on Twitter, with 19 million followers, while the UK comes third, with 12 million.

Belinda Rowe, Global Managing Partner, ZenithOptimedia, said: “The Social League shows that sports teams have the power to reach passionate fans across the world, and one of the most effective ways to do this is provide frequent updates with exclusive content on social media. The launch of The Social League demonstrates the power of Socialtools, our new social media application. It gives our planners around the world comprehensive insights about brand performance in the social space, helping them to devise highly engaging social strategies that deliver ROI.”

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