FC Global: Notes on the 179 football clubs with over 1m social media followers

FC Global: Notes on the 179 football clubs with over 1m social media followers


I love Result Sport’s regular release of football club social media figures, especially the annual updates. Mario Leo is a real numbersmith in this area with a commitment to accuracy. You can hear his expertise in our recent podcast together.

He gave me a sneak preview of his 2017 release and I made some notes. Of course, followership can a vanity metric without engagement but, for now, it is still the way the discipline is judged both externally and internally.

Remember, these are just notes and observations with the merest attempt at analysis. I’d welcome your reasoning on what we are observing. Let me know in the comments.

Global Football Benchmark - January 2018 - 1-15 - NEW LOOK.png

General notes

  • There were 148 clubs with a combined followership of a million in July. Now there are 179
  • Of the top 10, Facebook is less than 50% of the total community for only two clubs - No1 Real Madrid and No 2 Barcelona.
  • Facebook’s growth has been significantly impacted in saturated markets, such as North America and Europe. Teams in South and Latin America, as well as Africa and Asia, have maintained solid Facebook growth.
  • Twitter’s growth is less organic and has based on suggested user list and profile recommendations
  • … but Instagram has ‘won’ 2017


Breakdown of locations for the most followed football teams in the world

Breakdown of locations for the most followed football teams in the world

In the last six months…

  • The only movers in the top 10 are PSG, who added almost 8m and rose two places, and Manchester City, who have added almost 7m and rose one place.  
  • #2 Real Madrid have made up 1.8m on #1 Barcelona
  • Only Manchester City, Real Madrid and PSG have made more than 1m on Facebook. Most have made small gains. Chelsea and Arsenal have lost followers on that platform

Brazilian teams are relatively huge on Instagram compared to Twitter  

  • #25 Sao Paulo (12.7m total) 4.1m on Instagram compared to 1.3m on Twitter
  • #15 Corinthians (20.5m) 5.1m Instagram compared to 2.1m on Twitter
  • #122 Vitoria (1.7m) 1.1m Instagram compared to 0.16m on Twitter

They are also relatively strong on YouTube 

South American teams from outside the top two countries, Brazil and Argentina, are well represented. 

  • #33 Nacional (8.8m) Colombia
  • #49 Barcelona SC (5.2m) Ecuador
  • #62 Club Alianza Lima (3.8m) Peru
  • #69 Colo Colo (3.6m) Chile
  • #133 Olimpia (1.5m) Paraguay
  • #171 Penarol (1m) Uruguay

Well represented leagues but no surprises

  • Liga Mx Mexico (5 in the top 60, top team #28 Chivas with 11.5m)
  • Thai League (#77 Muangthong United 29m, #100 Buriram Utd 2.1m, #159 Chonburi 1.2m)
  • Indonesia Liga1 ((#20 Persib Bandung with 14.5m are the biggest club in SE Asia. Bigger than the likes of Inter, Roma and Tottenham), #63 Persija 3.8m, #110 Arema 1.9m, #123 Sriwijaya 1.7m, #175 Bali United 1m)
  • Egypt (#18 Al Ahly 18.1m, #31 Zamalek 9.2m, #172 Al Masry 1m)

Indian Super League - batting above its average

It is surprising that there are so many ISL clubs over 1m. Like the US, it is a newer league but is fighting against a relative lack of football culture. MLS is very active on digital and social media, albeit the real strength is the League not the clubs. However, given all that, it is still impressive that the ISL clubs are outperforming the US ones.

  • #66 Kerala Blasters (3.7m)
  • #97 Atletico de Kolkata (2.2m)
  • #117 Chennaiyin FC (1.8m)
  • #127 East Bengal (1.6m)
  • #131 Pune City (1.6m)
  • #144 FC Goa (1.3m)
  • #149 Delhi Dynamos (1.3m)
  • #153 Mumbai City (1.3m)
  • #156 North East United (1.3m)

MLS - It’s all about the 'newbies'

Atlanta United had established a fine following on social media before they kicked a ball. However, reaching 1.m after their inaugural season is still very impressive. Most of the MLS sides above 1m are the relatively new franchises - NYCFC, Seattle, Orlando, Atlanta and Toronto. Even Sporting KC gained new impetus after their rebrand from the Kansas City Wizards in 2010.

The strength of the newbies may explain ISL success too, ssee above.

  • #72 NYCFC (3.2m)
  • #73 LA Galaxy (3.2m)
  • #118 Seattle (1.7m) 
  • #142 Orlando (1.4m)
  • #145 NY Red Bulls (1.3m)
  • #161 Atlanta (1.2m)
  • #162 Sporting KC (1.2m)
  • #168 Toronto (1.1m)

Saudi Arabia are represented in with more teams than one might expect and in higher positions

  • #24 Al-Hilal (12.8m)
  • #59 Al-Ittihad 4.2m)
  • #68 All-Nassr (3.6m)
  • #91 Al Ahli (2.4m)

The vast majority of these are made up of Twitter, a modicum of Instagram and virtually no Facebook. It is the only League with this pattern

For Turkish teams, Twitter is sometimes higher than Facebook

  • #84 Trabzonspor 2.8m (1.5m Twitter, 1m Facebook) 
  • #155 Bursaspor 1.2m (605k Twitter, 584k Facebook) 
  • With Galatasaray and Fenerbache the Twitter figure is 60% of Facebook. This is relatively high.

St Pauli are second tier but very special

Only eight second-tier clubs are listed, four of them from the Championship. All have been in the EPL in the last three years:

  • #61 Aston Villa
  • #130 Fulham
  • #128 Hull
  • #135 Norwich

Three from Brazil, Internacional won Serie B last season, the other two went down from the top flight:

  • #52 Internacional
  • #170 Figueirense 
  • #176 Goais 

#174 St Pauli 1m (Germany) have had one season in the German top flight since 1997. But they have a special story.

* Got a point to make? Let me know below.

What is your off-the-wall sports social media prediction for 2018?

What is your off-the-wall sports social media prediction for 2018?