At about 10pm on the evening of Monday 2nd May 2016, the most shocking thing in Premier League history happened, as the 5000-1 outsiders Leicester City confirmed their place as Premier League champions. It’s a fairytale story for the club, but the marketers who invested in them before the start of the season are also reaping the rewards. What can the social media data tell us about those who have followed the club this season?
— Twitter UK (@TwitterUK) May 2, 2016
The on-pitch success has yielded significantly higher press and TV exposure than expected, including over 30 million Tweets about Leicester since the season began. With the global exposure of Champion’s League football on the horizon next season, the bang that Leicester’s sponsors are getting for their buck is only going to increase. We thought we’d look at the following Leicester have built, and analyse that audience’s affinity to demonstrate the positive effects that sponsoring them can bring.
Leicester’s Followers: A Brief Overview Of Their Affinity
As expected, sports leads the way when looking at the Affinity Report of Leicester’s followers, with the Premier League’s official Twitter account being the most followed account. A somewhat surprising figure was that some of the most followed accounts were other teams, with 38.12% of Leicester’s followers also following Manchester United. Jamie Vardy was the most followed player out of Leicester’s title winning squad, but among the club’s own followers he ranked 20th out of currently active players.
This suggests that a lot of their newer followers may be taking more note of the club, having previously expressed interest in one of their Premier League rivals. While it’s unlikely that die-hard fans would’ve changed who they support, this crossover of followers suggests that a significant number of neutral fans have highlighted them as a club worth keeping tabs on as a result of their exploits this season.
Who Should Sponsor Leicester Next?
With sports stars commanding large followings, we need to look further into the data to identify some of the brands that this community is actively following. The first brand we found not associated with sport or entertainment was Samsung Mobile, who are followed by 5.84% of Leicester’s followers. They command a higher share of this audience than Microsoft, EA Games, and Harry Styles, plus rival pages such as Nokia, Sony, and Apple CEO Tim Cook. With Leicester having no official partners in mobile technology, and with Samsung ending their sponsorship of Chelsea in 2015, is this an opportunity for both parties to look into sponsorship possibilities with each other?
What’s The Benefit Of A Sponsorship?
Looking further through the report, and searching out Leicester’s current partners, we see evidence that their followers are more in tune with some of the club’s partner brands than they are with those brands rivals. Despite them being further down the Affinity report than sports and celebrity accounts, they are still followed in their thousands by Leicester supporters. For example, the percentage of Leicester’s followers who follow Air Asia (one of the club’s partners) is 125% more than Garuda Indonesia, a rival South-East Asian airline with a similar number of followers. They also have a 28% higher following than Malaysian Airlines.
This uptake in affinity highlights the benefits of forming strong commercial relationships with the right club, as people on Twitter are 69% more likely to make a purchase from a brand that they follow. Social data can highlight these benefits to demonstrate where a partnership has been successful – and where it has the potential to be successful in the future – enabling the club to prove their worth as an investment for sponsors.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) May 7, 2016
But What About The Crisps?
We never turn down an opportunity to analyse crisps, and Leicester’s long-running partnership with Walkers means this is an opportune moment to see what a difference such a partnership is worth. Our Audience Intersection Report between the followings of Leicester City, compared with the UK accounts of four leading crisp brands (Walkers, Doritos, Pringles, and Kettle Chips) showed a pretty clear winner.
As you can see, Leicester followers were over four times as likely to be following Walkers than Pringles or Doritos. To ensure that this wasn’t just due to Walkers brand dominance, we also looked at a range of five other Premier League clubs with similar sized followings and discovered that the percentage of Leicester fans who followed Walkers was higher than theirs as well. In fact, the percentage of Leicester followers who followed Walkers was almost double the percentage of Tottenham supporters who did, and a 37% higher percentage than the next highest club (Sunderland).
— Walkers Crisps (@walkers_crisps) May 6, 2016
Using Twitter analytics to build this level of understanding of an audience can be useful for marketers both at the club and at brands looking to tap into their following. With modern-day Premier League fans stretching across continents, demographics, and cultures, the ability to measure, understand, and accurately engage with the individuals who make up any sector of that audience is vital for any brand looking to connect with them.