Manchester United – A Social Success?

Pedrom Pourkashanian | October 23rd 2014

We’ve got a bit of form when it comes to blog posts about Manchester United, with Manchester: the City for Social Media and We All Follow United – Too Late to the Twitter Party?. Therefore, we thought it would be appropriate to analyse how successful Manchester United have been on social media since the club’s Twitter launch in July 2013.

Twitter Growth

If we compare the growth of the Twitter accounts for five top teams since July 2013, we can see that social growth has been the highest for @ManUtd with an increase of 3.4m to reach 3.6m followers on Twitter in just over 15 months.* This was justified by, who wrote about the @ManUtd account reaching 1 million Twitter followers after 70 days of opening the account. According to Followerwonk:

Manchester City, @MCFC: the account is 6 years old.

Liverpool FC, @LFC: the account is over 5 years old.

Chelsea FC, @chelseafc: the account is over 5 years old.

Arsenal, @arsenal: currently has the most followers with 4.65m with an account that’s over 5 years old.

Manchester United, @ManUtd, is the most recent account, being just over 1 year old, but it shows the highest growth rate in followers: 3.4m in the last 15 months.

Manchester United Twitter Followers

Using Socialbakers we can look at the comparative growth over the last 6 months and see that the @ManUtd account is slowly catching up to Chelsea and Arsenal who have had their accounts open for four more years. The largest growth for @ManUtd was between the period of Aug 24 to Sep 7. The main contributor to this is perhaps the signing of Di Maria and Falcao who were announced on 26th August and 2nd September respectively. Is this growth the Argentinian and Colombian fans following their favourite players and switching teams?

Manchester United Twitter Followers

Comparing six-month growth to Liverpool and Manchester City is a different story with @ManUtd overtaking LFC in August and easily overtaking MCFC a few months before.

Top Twitter Accounts

Using we can pull together a daily update of the follower counts for all of the official football club Twitter feeds. Looking at the top 10 we can see a massive difference between Arsenal in third and Real Madrid and Barcelona in first and second.

Facebook Growth

Manchester United Facebook Page

On Facebook, Manchester United has seen a 26m increase in likes after recently reaching the 60m milestone. According to Social Bakers they are increasing by an astounding 1.8m new likes on Facebook every month, +350k every week and 47k every day.

If we look into their social distribution of fans, we can see that almost 14.1% (8.4m) of the fan base is from Indonesia followed by 6.5% (3.9m) in Thailand. It was confirmed in a June 2014 study that Facebook Users in Indonesia has risen to 69m+, making it one of Facebook’s biggest markets behind USA, India and Brazil.

The only other teams to rank higher in terms of total number of fans are FC Barcelona and Real Madrid who have a total number of 77m and 75m respectively, all with the highest percentage of fans coming from Indonesia.

Top Teams in Indonesia

As far as Facebook’s UK sports supporters are concerned, we’re a pretty football-centric bunch, with eight of the top ten pages (in terms of page fans) focusing on the sport. Team GB (athletics) pops in at number 5 and England Rugby is number 8, the only non-football entries. Two Spanish teams (guess which), England and the Premier League are there, but the other four are, not surprisingly, English top-flight football teams. MCFC is conspicuous by its absence given its recent success; it will be interesting to see if it follows Chelsea and goes from well-supported to stratospheric after becoming super-rich.

Top 10 Sports Teams in UK

Klout Scores (October 2014)

Although many consider Klout score to be meaningless, we have put together an updated list of the English Premier League table following on from the Sport Pundit blog in August 2013. Below is a list and ranking of EPL clubs based on Klout score taken from October 21st 2014:

Premiership Klout Score

Social Content

Content produced by the top teams is a great way to break news to the fans and ensure that they are kept up to date with the inside knowledge of the team they love. But what content is effective on each social platform?

On Twitter, using BuzzSumo, we can look into the top shared content from the website over the last year. We can see that the top content is the appointment of Louis Van Gaal followed by the signings of Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera and the announcement of Ryan Giggs’ retirement. Twitter Shares

How does this compare to Facebook shares? The Man Utd Calendar received the highest number of shares with 36.7k followed by news regarding Woodward, Rooney and Carrick’s ankle surgery. These stories contribute very little to those shared on Twitter and vary quite significantly with regard to content. Facebook Shares

If we now look into the total number of shares across all social media platforms, we can see that apart from the Man Utd calendar, Twitter is the chosen platform to share content for Man Utd. Is this the chosen platform for football fans to share news from their favourite teams?

Total Shares for

One surprise to come out of the content search was the use of Google+, with the top shared content being the announcement of Di Maria receiving 3.7k shares, QPR 2014 match report receiving 3k, Falcao signing 3k and Rojo signing 2.9k.

Social Media Hub

Manchester United Social Media Hub

In addition to the social media activity, Manchester United introduced their very own Social Media Hub to promote every update across social platforms combined into the one page.

Social Overview of top 5 Premier League accounts (compared to July 2013)

How do these teams rank in total for social media? And how has their growth increased since our last blog post on the subject in July 2013?

Below we have created The Social Premiership League Table to show how each team compares with their combined fans and followers from both Facebook and Twitter (top medium in bold):

Premiership Social Media Top 5


With the success we have seen come from the effective use of Facebook for Manchester United, it would be difficult to say that loyalty on social media to the biggest sports team in the UK is not still growing. Combined with the global marketing strategies that are implemented by Manchester United, they are able to sign new players and instantly see rapid growth in fans and followers on social platforms.

On Twitter, with @ManUtd showing the highest growth over the last 15 months (due to the new account), it would be interesting to see how long it takes to catch up to Chelsea and Arsenal who are at the front of the pack with just 1m more followers, but who opened their accounts 5 years ago. The social media strategy that Manchester United have implemented in my opinion is a success, with match updates, inside information from players, quizzes and interviews to keep fans up to speed with one of the world’s top sports brands.

With regard to Manchester United being 16th in the table for Klout scores, it seems strange that they don’t rank more highly given the combination of all their platforms. This may be low due to the fact that not all the Manchester United social accounts have been connected to each other on Klout. As reported in a Twitter Engagement Table for November 2013 by digital-football, Manchester United leads the way in the league with 98.7% of fans engaging with the Twitter page. Since the article was published, the Klout score has only increased by 1.2 to reach 82, adding further questions to how the Manchester United Klout score is calculated.

If you have any ideas why it is so low, let us know.

*Note – with @ManUtd arriving late to Twitter the growth will be higher than expected so will need to be measured again once the account has levelled out. Additionally, users may be fans on Facebook and Twitter so the ‘Total’ number of fans may contain duplicates.