Defending Premier League champions Liverpool have overtaken Manchester United in terms of total global engagements across various social media platforms during a pandemic-hit year which rendered clubs' social media presence all the more indispensable.
The Reds have gone past Manchester United and jumped into second place behind only Barcelona when it comes to the clubs' appeal, presence and engagement (measured by likes, comments and shares). They narrowly overtook Manchester United who finished 3rd after the 2020 calendar year.
In 2020, the coronavirus put sport on hold for two months and has impacted football (like other sports) throughout the year by forcing the absence of fans in stadiums, drastically reduced revenues, etc.
As such, social media was the only means for clubs to stay connected with their fans. Additionally, in recent times, social media has become a key side objective for most clubs as it provides an entirely new way to market themselves. Furthermore, these days, a good social media presence not only allows clubs to generate significant revenue from these platforms and the reach it gives football clubs, but is also capable of attracting partners and sponsors who hope to leverage it.
The published 2020 figures are as per Blinkfire Analytics - a platform that uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and other technologies to evaluate social and digital media sponsorship exposure and value.
Their analytics of the 2020 calendar year showed Barcelona register the most combined social media engagement (1.6 billion) across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, becoming the first team ever to have more than 1 billion engagements every year for the last six years.
Premier League sides Liverpool (1.48 billion) and Manchester United (1.45 billion) were 2nd and 3rd respectively, among the top football clubs in the world. Sustained success on the pitch in recent times has certainly helped boost Liverpool's social media presence and helped them go past Manchester United.
Speaking to Liverpool Echo, Łukasz Bączek, a football finance expert said:
"All professional clubs focus heavily on communication and using their social media, trying to stay one step ahead of the competition. The number of followers and interactions is a huge media value."
"It is not enough to only serve up the latest challenge or goal celebration, you have to let them [fans] behind the curtain. Football has gone from people only seeing the 90 minutes players play on the pitch to being more about the game off," he added.
Liverpool and Manchester United among 4 clubs in the top 10
While Liverpool (2nd) and Manchester United (3rd) provide the closest competition to first-place Barcelona, Premier League sides Arsenal and Chelsea also find themselves in the top 10 most engaging football clubs on social media.
The top 10 football clubs with the most combined global social media engagement across all platforms are:
- Barcelona (Spain) - 1.6 billion
- Liverpool (England) - 1.4 billion
- Manchester United (England) - 1.4 billion
- Real Madrid (Spain) - 1 billion
- Juventus (Italy) - 796 million
- Chelsea (England) - 784 million
- Bayern Munich (Germany) - 609 million
- Flamengo (Brazil) - 601 million
- Galatasaray - 600 million
- Arsenal (England) - 564 million