Portuguese clubs using Social: Engagement & Propaganda
Social media is rapidly becoming the focus of the communication and marketing strategies for top clubs. Curiously, two of the most well-known cases of success in their social media and online presence are Barcelona (With the largest amount of followers in the Spanish La Liga table) and social media innovators Manchester City (current Premier League holders). These club’s success on and off the field has been result of world class management teams, particularly in their marketing and communication departments.
Barcelona, for example has today over 39M fans on Facebook, over than 10% more than their archrivals and the self claimed “biggest club in the world” – Real Madrid.
In the UK, rather than on the number of fans, Manchester City’s main success has been in terms of brand – though City has a respectful 4.5M fans on Facebook, they can’t yet be compared with their Manchester rivals United who currently have over 35M fans on that social network. Other clubs such as PSG or Chelsea who were bought by foreign investors and, by that, lost some of the admiration and respect of “traditional” football fans, City have been successful in globally projecting a positive image of the club and pioneering in many online engagement-generating initiatives with their fans.
The two main pay-offs of this strategy have been:
- improving the satisfaction levels of old citizens – those supporters and members who have followed the club for whole their lives; and
- a steady growth of the club’s fanbase: new citizens from abroad – projecting Manchester City’s brand and gaining international market share.
In other parts of the world, however, clubs choose other marketing and communication strategies. For example, last Wednesday, Portuguese champions FC Porto released what can be called a “motivational video” for their fans, about last weekend’s “Clássico dos Clássicos”, otherwise known as the Benfica-FC Porto derby. The current leader of the Portuguese league Benfica and the holding champions FC Porto drew 2-2 and Benfica kept their 3 points advantage to FC Porto who, in turn, have one game less to play.
Following three days of mutual public accusations in the press (coaches, players and presidents of both clubs gave extensive interviews and press-conferences), the “battle” came to new media when FC Porto released on their Facebook page a 4min video titled “Fair-play is bullshit” (yes, true). The video repeatedly shows images of violent fouls of Benfica players and supposed mistakes of the referee against FC Porto. In between, you can actually see the 2 goals FC Porto scored. Professional video editing and “epic” Portuguese music back the video as a soundtrack.
Benfica’s fight back came on the next day, publishing a video in which one can listen FC Porto’s coach and president complaining about the referee on post-match press conference while simultaneously are presented images of flagrant fouls of FC Porto players and supposed mistakes of the referee against Benfica. The ironic style adopted made it an instantaneous success in a country and soon went viral in Portugal.
Combined, the two videos had over 4000 shares on Facebook less than 12 hours after Benfica posted their reply. Since being uploaded the videos have quickly surpassed the 150,000 views mark in a short timeframe. As a consequence, the engagement rates of both club’s post were higher than their average.
But should success in football clubs social media be measured only in terms of figures and engagement rates? How should social media strategies success be evaluated for football clubs?