Do football clubs’ social media followings mirror their attendances?

Posted on March 9, 2018

 

Today’s football clubs have to get social media right and move with the times and trends, an example of which was Manchester City changing the name on their Twitter account to Womanchester City yesterday to mark International Women’s Day, but who are the most followed Premier League clubs on Twitter, and how does this correlate to the number of fans they get through the gate on match days?

A handy Twitter group can point you in the direction of all 20 Premier League clubs’ Twitter accounts, and here they are in order of their current number of followers:

1. Manchester United – 17,600,000
2. Arsenal – 13,300,000
3. Chelsea – 11,700,000
4. Liverpool – 9,840,000
5. Manchester City – 6,010,000
6. Tottenham Hotspur – 2,800,000
7. Everton – 1,530,000
8. West Ham United – 1,410,000
9. Newcastle United – 1,230,000
10. Leicester City – 1,130,000
11. Southampton – 939,000
12. Stoke City – 933,000
13. Swansea City – 905,000
14. Crystal Palace – 695,000
15. West Bromwich Albion – 841,000
16. Watford – 423,000
17. AFC Bournemouth – 354,000
18. Burnley – 324,000
19. Brighton & Hove Albion – 172,000
20. Huddersfield Town – 138,000

There are not too many big surprises here. The top six there are often referred to as the ‘Big Six’ and usually will fill the top six places in the Premier League table in one order or another. The bottom four teams, meanwhile, are all clubs who have spent most of their recent history in the lower leagues and don’t have the global appeal of the giants.

If we look at the average Premier League attendances though, do these match up with the number of people following them in the Twitterverse? Here they are, courtesy of WorldFootball.net:

1. Manchester United – 74,962
2. Tottenham Hotspur – 68,324
3. Arsenal – 59,307
4. West Ham United – 56,884
5. Manchester City – 53,695
6. Liverpool – 53,179
7. Newcastle United – 51,896
8. Chelsea – 41,474
9. Everton – 38,730
10. Leicester City – 31,517
11. Southampton – 30,604
12. Brighton & Hove Albion – 30,365
13. Stoke City – 29,173
14. Crystal Palace – 24,975
15. West Bromwich Albion – 24,812
16. Huddersfield Town – 24,076
17. Burnley – 20,661
18. Swansea City – 20,564
19. Watford FC – 20,212
20. AFC Bournemouth – 10,629

So, the figures do appear to correlate to a degree, with the same teams largely near the top and bottom. The biggest discrepancies appear to be West Ham, whose enormous London Stadium is no doubt boosting their attendances, and Chelsea, who have a Twitter following into eight figures but whose gates remain somewhat mid-table.

By and large, the figures suggest social media popularity to be broadly representative of the level of custom they receive, at least in football. With social media though, this is represented on another stratosphere, with increasing popularity in the ‘real world’ resulting in exponentially increasing support on social media.

The best example of this is Manchester United, who are fairly comfortably at the top of both tables, but also have the second biggest disparity (behind Chelsea) between their average attendance and their Twitter following. For every person going to matches at Old Trafford, there are 235 people following United on Twitter. By contrast, the ratio of Brighton’s virtual to physical supporters is less than six to one, and similarly lesser supported clubs Huddersfield and Burnley are not far behind them.

Of course, the table that matters most to these teams is the one currently being run away with by Manchester City, but these figures suggest Twitter can be a good gauge of how big football clubs are as brands.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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