Analysing the SkyBet Championship 2016/17 – who’ll win the digital title?

The 2016/17 Championship season started at the weekend. The big leagues get all the attention so I thought the English second-tier needed a little love. Here’s my analysis of the excellent social media stats from Result Sports

Result Sport statistics on the Championship - click to enlarge.

Result Sport statistics on the Championship - click to enlarge.

The Big Guns

Aston Villa and Newcastle have the largest digital reach in the Championship

Aston Villa and Newcastle have the largest digital reach in the Championship

  • Villa and Newcastle are the main players. They only clubs with over 1.4m in absolute digital reach.
  • The pair have remarkably similar figures for Facebook, Twitter and You Tube. The biggest differential is Villa’s Instagram account which has five times that of the Tynesiders.
  • Then there are a pack of three teams: Fulham, Norwich and QPR on 1.2m to 1.4m.
  • Positions six to 15 are filled by well-supported sides who have been in the Premier League in the last 20 years but many have not graced the top flight in the social media era.

Surprises

  • The overall ratio of Facebook to Twitter is roughly 2:1 (10.9m to 5m). For major football clubs the multiple is normally between 3x and 6x.
  • The Instagram figure is less than 20 per cent of the Twitter figure. Lots of the major European clubs are seeing the picture-led platform overtake ‘the bird’.
  • Only Villa have a SinaWeibo account. It existed before they were bought out by a Chinese consortium this summer. But it might get greater attention now.
  • Leeds are hard to assess. Either they are remarkably high with a reach of 735,000 given their lack of success in the social media era. Or you could argue they are remarkably low because they a massive club who have had little to shout about in the last 10 years.

Doing well

New branding for the Championship this season

New branding for the Championship this season

  • Derby County, Birmingham City and Bristol City are performing well on Instagram relative to their overall reach.
  • The rising tide of the Premier League may lift all teams however Newcastle’s Twitter figure is better than European names like Napoli and Valencia. They put on a healthy 290,000 in 2015/16.

Could do better

  • Newcastle on Instagram. And they grew just 7,795 in the 2015/16 season.
  • Fulham on Twitter. They had a poor season last time out but they are behind many of the other teams who graced the Premier League in recent years.
  • Rotherham on Instagram. OK, they are not a fashionable side but Burton, who were a non-League team in recent memory, are performing much better.

Three suggestions for growth

  1. Emphasize Instagram. It is still in its growth stage and this can be leveraged. Big gains to be had.
  2. Blow up your match day coverage. Bog standard play-by-play content is boring. And that is the biggest crime in digital. Graphics, gifs, emojis but, most of all, personality. It is the only way for club platforms to fight through the clutter and could lift that Twitter number.
  3. Targetted Facebook ads for engagement. Let’s face it, Zuck has won. Organic reach is tougher than ever, carve out some budget to sow the seeds of growth. And Facebook ads are still the most effective way.

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