Cricket is a religion in India. Indian Premier League, the 20-20 format has not only raised the bar but has given the game a new glamour quotient. Few may disagree but IPL is back with its sixth season and would be live by next month. The game has also seen a fleet of marketing initiatives by the different teams being taken upon every year. Social media initiatives have been a major highlight from last season and it won’t surprise me that new benchmarks of engagement are created this season. But how are these sporting communities faring on social media?
Unmetric, the social media benchmarking company from New York investigates how the eight IPL teams are igniting passions and rivalries in the run up to IPL 6 using social media. The entire report has been encapsulated in a lovely infograph that analysed data between 1st December, 2012 and 31st January, 2013.
The entire report is the Unmetric Score, a number from 0 to 100 that includes various quantitative and qualitative social media metrics to produce a single score by which brands can be ranked. In this respect, it was found that most teams were fairly evenly matched on Facebook. The Mumbai Indians, owned by Reliance Industries, came out ahead with a score of 32, aided, perhaps, by India’s true blue Master Blaster. The Kolkata Knight Riders were a close second, scoring 31 for their Facebook efforts, while the Chennai Super Kings rounded out the top 3 with a score of 29. New team, Sunrisers Hyderabad, showed a statement of intent, at least on Facebook, by ranking a respectable fourth, with a score of 24.
Facebook fan growth, engagement score and content strategy
Fan growth: The eight IPL teams have captured a total of 8.5m fans on Facebook, yet the top three teams command more than 72% of the total fans. The Mumbai Indians attracted almost 3 million fans, while the Knight Riders and Super Kings have 1.6m fans each, which is 600,000 more than fourth placed Royal Challengers. Being such a new team, the Sunrisers have still only managed to attract 3,000 fans, perhaps due to a lack of promotion or awareness of their official Facebook page.
Two teams have been seeing some staggering Facebook fan growth rates in the last two months. Kings XI Punjab is the most surprising, recording a 519% growth rate (230,000 new fans), despite being in the IPL since its inception. It’s unclear exactly how the team went from 45,000 fans to 250,000 fans in just 3 days, however the team was running their ‘Awwal fan’ contest at the time.
Engagement score: Teams hording fans is one thing, engaging them is another. Unmetric calculates fan engagement based on the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and Estimated Impressions that each post receives to create an Engagement Score. In this respect, it’s the Sunrisers Hyderabad that stands head and shoulders above the rest with an Engagement Score of 560. This is followed by the Mumbai Indians, which scored 100 and Chennai Super Kings which scored 74. Rajasthan Royals finished at the bottom of the table with an Engagement Score of 23. The average Engagement Score for all the teams was 74.
Content strategy: To further delve in to what’s working for IPL teams, Unmetric researched the content strategies of all the teams to see what they talk about off season and during the previous IPL 2012 season. While there are some differences, like score updates and game results, the teams all concentrated on asking questions related to the team and providing news about the players during both periods. Interestingly, talk about offers didn’t excite fans as this content category received the lowest engagement. During the off season, talking about merchandise received a much higher engagement than when the matches were actually happening. Overall, talking about game results during the season is a sure way to increase fan engagement and reach more people.
Unmetric not only looked at how well fans were engaging with the teams, but how much the teams were appreciating the fans. In that respect, it was found that the IPL teams respond to less than 1% of fan posts on average. Chennai Super Kings don’t even allow their fans to post on their wall. The standout team is Kings XI Punjab, which replied to more than 10% of fan posts, although they took an average of 11 hours to reply to each post.
Twitter followers’ growth and usage
All eight IPL teams have embraced Twitter and using the Unmetric Score, there is little to differentiate between them. The Kolkata Knight Riders lead the way with an Unmetric Score of 28, followed by Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals which scored 26 and 24 respectively.
In terms of raw numbers, Kolkata Knight Riders stand tall with 140,000 followers, possibly helped by the influence of their enigmatic owner and avid (until 9th January, at least) Twitter user, King Khan. Chennai Super Kings are second, with over 110,000 followers and the Mumbai Indians are third with 90,000 followers.
Many large brands are increasingly using Twitter as a customer service platform but the IPL teams appear to still view Twitter mostly as a publishing platform as replies make up an average of just 12% of the tweets sent. Kolkata Knight Riders had the highest percentage of replies at 43%, but it was the Kings XI Punjab that sent the most replies overall with 100 replies. Delhi Daredevils were the least likely to reply, with a solitary reply for the two months analysed. Almost all the replies analysed were plain text, however a few teams asked fans to visit a link for more information.
The Kings XI Punjab took engaging their followers more seriously, not only with the most replies, but also being the quickest to reply. A follower could expect a reply to their tweet in an average of 50 minutes. Chennai Super Kings were third quickest on the buzzer, replying to tweets in an average of 90 minutes per tweet. Pune Warriors took the longest to reply, followers could expect a follow up an average of two days after their tweet was made.
YouTube number of subscribers and growth
On YouTube, it was the Sunrisers Hyderabad that lead the field with an Unmetric Score of 31. Royal Challengers and Knight Riders followed in 2nd and 3rd with scores of 24 and 18 respectively. Pune Warriors finished bottom with an Unmetric Score of 12.
YouTube is all about views and in that respect, Royal Challengers Bangalore have the game sown up with a massive 3.8m views on their 268 videos, over 1.6m more than all the other teams’ video views put together. Rajasthan Royals was second with 1.1m views, aided by the fact that they’ve uploaded more than twice the number of videos than any other team. Kolkata Knight Riders placed third with 485,000 views and also uploaded the third most videos. By comparison, Pune Warriors didn’t even manage 5,000 views in the 2 years they have been in existence.
Part of Royal Challengers dominance on YouTube can be explained by the number of subscribers they have, 3,500, far higher than the IPL average of 945 subscribers. The number of subscribers that Pune Warriors have can go some way to explaining why they have such few video views.
The infograph presents a detailed picture on how these teams are faring. With the IPL to start in a month’s time I am sure that all the teams must be pulling up their socks. Do let us know if the infograph was useful and how is your favourite team in IPL doing on social media.
P.S: With inputs from Prasant Naidu.