Talkwalker brings consumer intelligence to European football

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Why football matters

Football continues to be one of the most popular sports worldwide, with over 13 million mentions per month. This universe of online conversations expands further, when we include names of tournaments, teams, players, and sponsors.

Football mentions in October 2021

In the month of October 2021, one football tournament, one team, and one player alone, gathered over 8.7M mentions, showing the large number of conversations around this sport.

As a quick example, there were a total of 8.7M mentions of the UEFA Champions League, the Paris Saint-Germain F.C. team, and Cristiano Ronaldo in October alone. Given the vast amount of conversations, brands need to be able to filter through the noise, and find the conversations that are more in-tune with their offering to have a better chance of succeeding in the Sport industry. Getting insights from the right teams, players, and fans, can help brands drive conversations back to their product or service.

The conversations around the European teams

Teams are leveraging social media to create closer connections to their fans. Organised by engagement on owned content, Manchester United is in the lead with 261.4M engagements in the month of October. The importance of Instagram stands out, with all of these teams receiving an average of 83.2% of their total engagement from this source. 

The engagement of the European leagues

Share of content and egagement in Football

Football teams across the five major leagues in Europe post 7x more content on Twitter than on Instagram, but receive 11.5x more engagement on Instagram than on Twitter.

Teams across the five most renown football leagues in Europe use a wide range of social media platforms to communicate with their fans. According to Social Content Ratings® Sports, Twitter accounts for 71% of the share of content by teams, making it the most popular source for teams to announce new signings, fixtures, and news. 

Although Twitter is the platform of choice for official announcements and communications, Instagram has 11.5 times the engagement of Twitter. How come? As a visual platform, Instagram focuses on images and videos, which combined represents 74% of all content shared across all the social media platforms by these teams. As a result, Twitter is a more suitable platform for handling official announcements and communications, but in order to generate engagement, brands should include more visual content, which Instagram is able to emphasize more.

Esports: the next frontier

The world of sports and competition is evolving, and teams are no longer just seen on a physical stadium. The pandemic accelerated the growth of online gaming, and the interest in live streaming. With a total of one million mentions, October 2021 saw an 11% increase over the same period last year. With Gen Z owning 48.6% of these mentions, it’s clear that if brands want to interact with this digitally competitive audience, it’s more important than ever to be a part of these competitions. 

esport growth as shown by conversation clusters

As esports continue to grow, brands and teams look for the best partnerships and platforms for their leagues and competitions.

In October, general discussions from viewers and players made up 20% of all conversations. Within this cluster there are mentions of favorite teams, competitions, and even advice to other players, often posted in online forums or social media. 

A topic that’s still in development is the potential merge of e-sports, blockchain, and the metaverse, with games like Roblox and Fortnite being the main hubs for these developments. On this topic, brands are exploring how to become a part of this digital realm by either sponsoring teams, launching their products in these games, or even creating NFTs. 

influencers in esport

Across the top European leagues, the eLaLiga, its teams and players dominated conversations in the past month.

Among the most important esports leagues in Europe, the eLaLiga owns 46.5% of the share of voice, followed by the ePremier League with 28.7%. Visualizing the conversations of the top European esports leagues, we found that eLaLiga is driving conversations not only through the official Spanish football league accounts, but also through local teams and players. These players have served as influencers for their own league, by sharing with a wider audience.

Discussions about football within esports are growing, but at a slower speed than games like PUBG or Valorant. Mentions of football within esports represent only 13.1% of all conversations today, a percentage which will most likely increase as the whole category grows. This means that now is the time for teams and brands to join early and establish their presence.

Premier League engagement on social media

The official Premier League account received 1.6K engagements across the globe on its announcement that the esports Premier League was open for registrations.

One of the main ways that these esports leagues are reaching out to audiences is through the official leagues in each country, which share news from esports as well as their regular football content. The most recent peak around esports in Europe was a tweet by the Premier League account, where they announced the opening of registrations for the ePremier League.

Themes Clouds showing the most popular words around football

With respect to esports, consumers have been showing their excitement around new seasons, their favorite players and the communities around the various tournaments.

Conversations around esports leagues like eSerie A Tim by Lega Serie A have had over 32.9% positive sentiment. The discussions have been driven lately by the start of new seasons, like the ePremier League. People have also been talking about their favorite players, or the ranking of different teams, as they prepare for the next matches.

What comes next

Football leagues, teams, and fans are extremely active on social media, with growing engagement across the board. As the realm of sports continues to evolve with the growth of esports, brands will need to monitor and understand how to best engage with these audiences to succeed in this competitive space. 

  • Brands that want to get actionable insights will need a consumer intelligence platform to analyze the millions of social interactions.
  • To get the most from each social media post, brands will need to leverage Instagram to receive more engagement, and include as many images and videos across their different social media accounts.
  • Brands that want to reach large audiences must make sure to focus on athletes and not only on teams, as the former often have an important followership of their own.
  • For advertisers and sponsors, image recognition will be key to finding the hidden mentions of their brands, and understanding their true level of brand awareness.
  • For brands to effectively engage with the predominantly Gen Z audience interested in esports, they will need to monitor the conversations of these new digital communities.

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