8 years ago I decided to do a little analysis on how many Twitter followers every club has.
At the time, Arsenal led the way with 3,005,680.
Twitter was still something clubs were getting used too and not all clubs were taking it as seriously as others.
Manchester United for example had just 1,296,966 followers.
4 years on I revisited the analysis and the changes were interesting.
Manchester United were now the most followed club – with a 1264% increase. Arsenal were still the 2nd most followed.
With all the furore over the European Super League, a friend stuck the likes of the Greedy Six apology message into our WhatsApp Group with the tag line “they really are a small club”.
This was talking about Tottenham’s tweet getting just one third of the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool, less than half of Manchester City and ¼ of Manchester United.
It made me think about the analysis I did and luckily I was able to find the figures. They make interesting reading once more…
The first thing that jumps out is just how growth has stalled.
Manchester United’s growth from 2013 to 2017 was 1264%. Now it is just 53%.
This is due to two factors:
- Twitter’s own growth over the last 4 years has been slow
- Football’s global growth has stalled
The second thing that jumps out is how little Arsenal have grown in comparison to other “top 6” club – just 37% growth. This would be due to the way the club is so often portrayed negatively both on social media and in the press leading the club to gain less new followers in comparison.
Compare Arsenal to Tottenham in the last 7 years – Tottenham’s growth has been 125% (the most of the big 6). Arsenal have won trophies, Tottenham have not.
But if you look online you would think that Tottenham had been the successful team over the last 4 years. Perception is everything.
The third interesting point to note is the growth of Liverpool from 2017 to 2021.
At 83%, they have grown quicker than Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City. This shows how many people “jump on the bandwagon” when a team begins winning trophies.
Liverpool and Manchester City are the “newer” successful fans, so are gaining followers that they would not have gained during the 00s when both won very little.
In the 00s, these fans would have begun following Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United.
It really shows the importance of being a successful club, and winning the biggest trophies.
As for Tottenham, their growth has been huge but they were also coming from the lowest base point. Their percentage growth might the highest, but the volume of new followers is lowest; just 3.2million new followers in comparison to Arsenal who gained 4.7m.
The last point is how not being in the Premier League can impact your followers.
Leeds United returned to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years last summer.
When they were relegated back in 2004, you would have said they were in a group including Newcastle, Everton, Aston Villa and Tottenham. Sides who had a decent following but not much recent success.
They are now behind the likes of Crystal Palace and WBA. It is hard to grow a global fan base when you are not in the Premier League and not on the TV of people around the world every weekend.
Likewise you can see the benefit of Leicester City winning the league in 2016. They now have the 8th largest Twitter following and have continued to grow at quicker rates in comparison to the likes of West Ham and Wolves.
You can really see the impact on followings on the teams who have dropped out of the Premier League:
In 2017, the likes of Stoke City and Swansea were fairly stable Premier League clubs and had gained over 1million followers each.
Both were relegated in 2018 – a year after the previous study – and their growth since has been below 20%.
Likewise Cardiff City – who were in the Premier League in 2013 – have grown their following by just 5% since 2017. They have spent the majority of the time since 2013 in the Championship.
So in summary?
- Growth is slowing
- Being in the Premier League is important for all clubs to increase their following
- Winning the Premier League / Champions League is the most important factor in growth
- Negative perception sees to lower growth