Social media following is a wonderful thing. An individual experiencing one moment of comedy or tragedy, happiness or sadness and hope or despair can take over a lot of people and impact his online profile.
If there’s one industry that is able to deliver all of the emotions and situations mentioned above (and much more) is sports. Most of the high profile events are broadcasted to the eyes of hundreds of millions waiting for a moment of magic. In today’s society, social media allows the individual to feel part of that moment by sharing his or hers thoughts and reactions to that moment.
Last week, during Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim, and during the 2nd leg of the Spanish Supercup, two magical moments were delivered. The first one involves Liverpool’s young and very talented and promising 18-year-old right back, Trent Alexander-Arnold, as he scored a beautiful free kick to give Liverpool the lead. The second one involves the slightly older but still young Marco Asensio, Real Madrid’s new upcoming star who scored a wonder goal in the early minutes of the Clasico.
I decided to track the two young players Instagram accounts as the magical moment occurred and the effect on their accounts afterward. Let’s start with Trent. As his free kick went in his total number of followers stood on 188,000. The morning after the match his number of followers increased by 30,000 to 191,000. Just to set thing straight, it is possible that the increase is lower than the absolute number of 30,000 as the account doesn’t show the exact number of followers.
As for Marco Asensio, first it must be mentioned that due to him being involved in key moments in Real Madrid’s 2016-17 season such as scoring in the UEFA Champions League Final against Juventus this May while starring throughout the season, plus the fact that he plays for Real Madrid, the most followed football club in the world, his online starting point is higher than Trent’s and attracts more traffic.
Asensio’s number of followers stood on 3.3 million as he scored from distance. The morning after he had 3.4 million followers which increased to 3.5 million in the afternoon. It reasonable to assume that this spike in followers for both players is highly affected from their standout goals rather than them just adding another appearance.
I often hear and read from people in my network the debate about how football clubs can monetize social media and digital. Most clubs use social media because that’s where the majority of their fans are. The main problem is that clubs release and share content that they produce and own to social media where in reality the ones who thrive on the data and traffic are Facebook and co.
So how can clubs take advantage of such key moments mentioned above? Well, I think that the solution is quite simple. What if clubs, in the same way that I tracked these players’ Instagram account without any fancy software or analytics tools, will react to these moments by placing a direct link to purchase the specific player’s shirt on the player’s profile.
Let’s do some math, the cost of a basic Real Madrid shirt with printing starts at around €70. If we take the absolute growth in Marco Asensio’s followers (200,000), one percent of that is 2,000. If 2,000 new followers are also interested in buying a shirt the result is €140,000 in revenue. A rather small amount in Real Madrid’s terms but I don’t think the club would turn that down, especially when the potential and way of achieving this revenue is relatively easy.
Social media is there to be tested. The same way it can result in €140,000 in revenue it can result in more, less or none at all. Obviously, the issue of the player’s image rights deal with the club will determine whether what I’m suggesting is applicable should be resolved, but I don’t see it being too much of an obstacle. Test it.