In December we ranked our top 5 stories of 2011. Number 3 on that list was the explosion of Twitter as a marketing and sharing tool in the world of American soccer. This is what we wrote: Few sports fans are as devoted to social networking sites as soccer supporters. Because of the lack of soccer coverage in mainstream media, soccer fans are forced to the web to follow their favorite teams and games abroad. Twitter has provided the perfect vehicle for fans to keep track of live matches, interact with players and journalists and discuss the beautiful game 140 characters at a time. Anecdotally, Twitter use among soccer follower has exploded in 2010, with even technophiles recognizing the value of Twitter as a source for information on the beautiful game.
Facebook is equally valuable to clubs and teams seeking to promote their brand and reach out to fans. One of our readers (Johnie Smith) reached out with an interesting take on Facebook and its use in MLS. Using “likes” as a barometer of team/fan interaction Smith tracked the relative popularity of the teams and their social networking presence. According to Smith’s review of the various MLS team sites, Seattle is the king of the medium with 100k “likes” more than the next highest team. Perhaps not surprisingly, Chivas USA was the caboose of Facebook “likes” with 7k total. According to Smith, some of the league’s original sponsors (e.g. New England, Dallas and Colorado) are near the bottom of the “likes” list, while relative newcomer Philly is near the top of the league rankings.
As readers of this site know, we have repeatedly asked team executives about the importance of social networking sites in their marketing plans. Universally, these front office representatives believe Facebook, Twitter, etc… are important and necessary tools for connecting with their current and future fans. It provides teams with a dedicated avenue to reach the folks that have already identified themselves as having an interest in the team in an immediate fashion. As the clubs become more proficient at using Facebook to connect, it will be interesting to monitor the “likes” to see if they are an accurate predictor of attendance, season ticket sales, tv ratings or something else.
Thanks to Mr. Smith.