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FC Barcelona has strengthened its leadership on social networks. In 2019, and for the second year running, it has generated more interactions than any other sports club in the world, a massive 1,417 million (up 20% on 2018), when accounting for its main channels on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It also led the way in views on YouTube, with 461 million.
No football club, and none of the major North American franchises, achieved more likes, shares and comments than Barça, making it not only the most popular team, but also the one that creates the most engagement with its fans, the primary goal of so many organisations in the digital realm. Compared with other clubs, FC Barcelona is well ahead of second placed Liverpool (1,161 million), Manchester United (1,044), Juventus (916), Chelsea (645) and Real Madrid (600), according to data published by Blinkfire.
Barça are the outright leaders in the digital realm, generating 1,417 million interactions, more than any other sports club in the world
FC Barcelona is also the sports team with most followers on social media after dislodging Real Madrid from first place in 2019. According to the ‘Global Digital Football Benchmark’ study by Result Sports published this week, Barça have 260 million followers across their main accounts, distributed in the following manner: 103 million on Facebook, 81 million on Instagram, 57 million on Twitter, 8 million on YouTube, 6 million on Weibo and 2 million on Tik Tok. Behind the blaugranes come Real Madrid with 258 million, Manchester United on 142 million, Chelsea with 98 million and Juventus on 90 million. If we add to the main accounts the rest of the Club’s channels (youth football, professional sections, Foundation…), the number of followers exceeds 350 million.
Kings of Instagram
It is on Instagram that Barça is truly out in front, with 1,220 million interactions through its global account (@fcbarcelona), peaking at 140 million in December, a new record for a sports club on the platform. Barça topped the ranking in 8 out of 12 months, showing how loyal and consistent its fans are. The women’s team’s Instagram account (@fcbfemeni) is also ranked first, with 15 million interactions, ahead of Chelsea (11.9) and Manchester United (8.7).
Barça is also the powerhouse on Twitter, almost getting 100 million interactions, 30 million more than in 2018. Only Champions League and World Clubs Cup winners Liverpool (97 million) are able to challenge the blaugrana. Such engagement is also reflected in the mentions that Barça gets in Twitter chats, for as announced just a few weeks ago, Barça was also top in that category in 2019. Internal Twitter data analysing the number of single users who spoke about certain subjects reveals that Barça gets commented on the most, ahead of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool and PSG.
FC Barcelona is the sports team with most followers on social media after dislodging Real Madrid from first place in 2019
It is only on Facebook that Barça is not in top spot, where the club is edged by Manchester United and Liverpool. In the second half of this year, FC Barcelona changed its Facebook strategy by becoming the first club to develop and use the new Fan Subscription service, whereby subscribers get to access a broad range of exclusive content. Barça and the technology company are still working to define the new product designed to heighten the concept of community and take the club closer to its most loyal fans by offering them unique experiences.
Growth of 112% on YouTube
On YouTube, the main yardstick for analysing successful content is the number of views. And Barça is the leader in terms of how many videos get watched, with a 112% improvement on the 2018 figures, a rise from 217 million views to 461 million in 2019. That’s especially relevant considering that club does not hold the rights to publish highlights of LaLiga games, unlike teams in the Premier League. Liverpool and Manchester United are second and third in the table. Barça also has more YouTube subscribers than any other sports club in the world (8.7 million), and this happened in the year of the launch of Barça Studios, which is the new focus for all of the club’s creation, production and marketing of audiovisual content. The commitment to entertainment and live programming around matches has contributed to FC Barcelona's success which places them ahead of their nearest rivals: Liverpool (342 million), Manchester United (205 million), Al Ahly (150 million) and PSG (140 million).
Success on Tik Tok and also in China
This year also saw Tik Tok make its break into the sports market. Barça was not among the earliest clubs to open an official account, but has nevertheless stormed to the top of the list of football clubs, both in interactions (15.7 million) and the number of followers (2.2 million). In just six months, the short format videos that Barça has published on the platform have gained the most views, providing instant connection with new audiences looking for quick, easy fun.
2019 has also seen the club deploy a booming strategy in China, where the digital ecosystem is totally different. It has 9.37 million followers in the country, up 3.42 million on late 2018, i.e. a 57% increase in just a year. Generalised progress was observed in 2019 on Weibo, WeChat and Toutiao, although the most dramatic increase has been on Douyin, where the club now has 2.4 million fans. With an average of 200,000 likes per video published, Barça is achieving faster and bigger growth than any other sports club on this social media site. The work Barça is carrying out in the Asian powerhouse was recognised by Mailman, the prestigious specialist consultancy in Marketing and Sport that mentioned the blaugranes as the best club 'online' in China during the Red Card 2020 Awards.
Statement by Dídac Lee, board member and head of the FC Barcelona Digital Area:
“Barça members and fans are at the heart of our digital strategy. Every one of the contents and products that we present is designed to generate a close, complicit relationship with the club. And in the digital environment, this relationship is fundamentally achieved through interactions on social networks, where we are once again the global leaders. The 2019 figures were spectacular and we are very proud of them. We are on good track, but our permanent quest for excellence means we have to keep innovating and working on the very finest contents, adapting them to each channel’s needs.”
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