Indian Football always gets a step-motherly treatment in India. Blame it on facilities, lack of awareness or overdose of Cricket for that matter, Indian Football has not reached the levels which other sports have (Kolkata is an exception). In such cases, the AIFF and all the I-League Football clubs have a herculean task to spread awareness and generate excitement amongst their fans and attract new supporters alike. Social Media can be a great alternative to reach out to the youth to encourage participation and viewership where kids and adults like to read more about Manchester United than our very own Mohun Bagan. So how are these clubs faring on Social Media? Let’s find out:
Presence on Facebook
East Bengal is ahead in terms of regular activity as far as Facebook is concerned and leads everyone by leaps and bounds in overall likes surpassing 836K. With a rich history of clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, they have enlisted all their notable mentions and achievements utilising the timeline feature. European Clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid have also used this timeline feature to showcase their history with great effect. The state of the Indian clubs on Facebook currently is as described in the graph below:
Also, we have shown the growth of the top 4 teams sorted by Fans with the help of Unmetric for the span of Feb-Mar 2013.
Shillong Lajong has the highest Fan Growth Rate of around 96% in the last 2 months adding more than 26K fans to their page. Shillong Lajong’s Facebook page has been quite interactive consistently seeing regular updates and engagement above 10% (Engagement & interactions peaked around 40% in the month of January 2013 when Churchill Brothers were playing Lajong) about match previews. Mohun Bagan is another club reaching out to its fans with live updates and branded materials. When we see the engagement scores for the past 2 months, Mohun Bagan tops the other clubs with an engagement score of 105 while Pune FC seems to be the least engaged of the four.
Clubs like these could have been more responsive on their Facebook walls with their ever enthusiastic supporters to strike a conversation or provide them updates about their selection procedures/camps information. But, the clubs are not doing a commendable job when it comes to responses to their Fans with less than 2% of the posts being responded to. Shillong Lajong has 0% response rate in the last 2 months. Striking a conversation with your fans can be a great chance to increase loyalty among clubs and convert those abuses into raves.
Football fans are sentimental and emotional, One bad performance may lead to ranting on the club’s Facebook pages. When it comes to who scores with the most positive sentiment ratio, all the three clubs except Mohun Bagan maintain a sentiment ratio of near about 8:1 (For every 8 positive posts, there is one negative post), whereas Mohun Bagan lags behind with a ratio of 3.7:1.
Presence on Twitter
Twitter, known for its short and witty conversations, can also be used by the brands for live score updates and hashtag optimization (#ManchesterIsRed is trending as I am writing this post). In terms of followers gained, Mohun Bagan gained 185 followers in the period analysed with a follower growth of 16%. I am really impressed at the Twitter usage by the club with live updates around the matches with adequate usage of hashtags. Pune FC and East Bengal too have been using the same strategy on Twitter although Shillong Lajong is posting same old Facebook stuff on their Twitter timeline as well.
And, Twitter known for its quick responses for Brands with twitterati having a short attention span, both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have the same average response time of around 2 hours and 45 minutes with Pune FC and Lajong not being pro-active on Twitter at all. Below is the tweet type distribution for the top 3 Twitter handles:
Presence on YouTube
Mohun Bagan’s official YouTube channel doesn’t have a logo/profile picture in place which is the basic necessity for any brand to be recognisable on Social Media. The content is more focused upon player thoughts and skills which could have been more spread out on other channels to encourage participation from football enthusiasts (Maybe submit your own football skill kind of campaign). East Bengal and Mohun Bagan’s activities on YouTube are not much to be spoken of.
Shillong Lajong is also doing a decent job with more than 70 subscribers and 13K video views. Pune FC although comes out to be the clear winner with a YouTube focused strategy. The Channel seems to be on par with the new YouTube branding guidelines and contains all the highlights/pre-post match conferences with a dedicated playlist for their players known as PFC Gladiators. More than 8.5K new video views have been registered in the month of Feb-March 2013 for the club with the most popular video being the Freestyle performance.
YouTube being a more visually appealing channel where the actual action happens, Indian Football clubs can surely leverage the same to increase awareness around players (Player Interviews/Trivia’s surrounding players) and match highlights and soccer skill trainings.
Future of social for Indian football
With the IPL crazy and EPL fanatic Indians around the corner, Indian Football clubs need to tighten up their screws to be more creative and follow on the path of big clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea to increase awareness around Indian Football. Not only Indian Clubs though, the initiative has to start from the I-League itself to embrace social in it’s thick of things. With the top clubs leading the way, we all can hope that these clubs do illustrate their players in a more commercially successful way; go leverage social and online to be their brand drivers and not the other way around.
And although Churchill Brothers do stand top of the I League 2013 as of now, when it comes to Social Media the story is a bit different.
Which Club do you support in the I-League? Do let us know your thoughts in the comments.