Arsenal, Chelsea & AC Milan all reach 10 million Facebook Likes

In the last few days 3 European football giants have made their mark on the Football Social Media world. Arsenal, Chelsea and AC Milan all surpassed the magic 10 million Facebook Likes number to join Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United in the 10mil+ club.

It’s no surprise that these clubs in particular have reached the landmark, they are after all some of the very elite in world football and brought in a combined total of €735 million in revenue last year alone. With 30 million Facebook fans, surely these clubs are doing a good job of engaging on Social Media? Surely, they are making the most of  this massive online presence? Surely they are using this awesome feat to improve their brand?

Arsenal

URL: http://www.facebook.com/Arsenal/

BEFORE: Arsenal’s pre-10 million tactic involved a Facebook competition in which fans could win a signed jersey or match tickets before the counter hit 10 million. It’s a fairly run of the mill idea but I can’t help but feel that they would’ve done a lot more? Maybe open an executive box for 10 lucky Facebook fans, done some blogger outreach, or even a bit of basic PR in the industry news?

AFTER: Arsenal promoted the 10 millionth Like with a special albeit 18 second video with Thomas Vermaelen thanking fans for their support and announcing the winners of the competition (there were only 4). Ok, it’s something, but surely the club has archives of historical footage, club ambassadors, unlimited access to its fans (who could be content creators) and so much more. 18 seconds seems rather…dull. Oh, and the video isn’t even on YouTube (no search equity).

STATS: 7,333 Likes on the announcement update

 

Chelsea

URL: http://www.facebook.com/ChelseaFC

BEFORE: As far as I can tell there didn’t seem to be any “call to arms” content, though to be fair Chelsea were perhaps more focused on the FA Cup final and recent victory to put them into the Champions League final. So, I’ll let them off…

AFTER: Chelsea went a little bit further than Arsenal and are by far the best of the lot. They put up multiple status updates when the 10,000,000th fan liked the Page, as well as a customised Timeline Cover image to celebrate the event. This was supported by a video on their excellent YouTube channel – which was 54 seconds long. The video was mildly better than Arsenal’s in that it had 3 players say something (Mata, Cech & Luiz) and it was interspersed with some old footage of players and fans. However, yet again, it seemed a bit rushed and didn’t really do much to sell the club as an entertainment brand. The London club also ran a brief 10% discount on club merchandise for 24 hours only… hardly generous.

STATS: 28k video views & 17,002 Likes across 3 announcement updates

AC Milan

URL: http://www.facebook.com/ACMilan

BEFORE: Nothing from the Italian superpower in advance of hitting the big 1-0.

AFTER: By far the poorest of the 3, Milan held a quick photoshoot of the players wearing a celebratory t-shirt – which was more stingy than Chelsea considering the dull t-shirt is priced at €12.00. The club uploaded the images (mainly of players randomly wandering about and signing their own shirts) to a special Facebook gallery and then launched a Timeline Cover thanking their fans. Again, fair enough they did something but it just felt hollow and rushed. It was interesting to note that the Timeline Cover was written in English, not Italian.

STATS: 26,418 Likes across 2 announcement updates & 1 gallery

 
 

Conclusions

These three clubs are classic examples of a large club maybe resting on their laurels. The sheer size of their global brand and wealth means that they have a fan base that is simply unthinkable. More and more fans will Like their page every day and it doesn’t matter if they sit in silence, they will always continue to earn more and more social media capital. Well, for as long as the football stays at the same standard that is…

But does this excuse maybe a slight “lack of effort” on their behalf? As something of a purist I’d have to say no. These are not clubs who are on the rise or penny pinching – these a household brands. And like all household brands, laziness only last for so long. These clubs have the resources, fan base and money to seriously invest in social media. Whilst the are most likely still going to sell shirts on an hourly basis – what business approaches the market with the attitude “we are fine as it is, no need to expand”. In fairness to Arsenal and Chelsea, they invested some time in producing video content, AC Milan however felt a photo would do the job.

Social media, engaging social media at that, might make a small improvement on shirt or ticket sales. In the long term however, a consistent and stable social media approach can help foster brand advocacy, better customer service and strengthen fan relationships. The money will not always be there and the fans will not always be happy – good social media offsets the potential for backlash.

Furthermore, these clubs are only catering to their existing customers. Richard Ayers of Manchester City rightly pointed out that football is entertainment but not everyone is a football fan…yet. A bit of strategic marketing and content could potentially open up a whole new audience. These three clubs have missed a serious opportunity to not only engage and make their fans feel good, but they’ve missed a chance at potentially earning some completely new football fans. Yes, they’ve done a bit to recognise the day but I feel with their brand size, wealth and access to fantastic content that really they should be doing far more. The original point of this blog was challenge clubs to do more and treat social media with the effort it deserves (and needs) – hopefully one takes notice…

Sean Walsh

Founder of Digital-Football.com and leading Football Social Media expert.

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