Premier League clubs and Facebook video: Quality scores every time

The take-away from this post is that Premier League clubs achieve most of their fan engagement on Facebook with less than 50% of their video output. Want to understand why that is? Read on...

Ladies and gentleman, please take your seats, introducing…the best-performing video published by a Premier League club on Facebook this year.

Manchester United’s unveiling of Alexis Sanchez in January has so far generated over 12 million views and 700k reactions from fans. The piano lessons have clearly paid off too.

The Sanchez post shows the potential value of video to the Premier League clubs and sponsors. It also highlights how clubs can curate content intelligently to maximise the value of their video assets. Not every post by Manchester United achieves the same reach and engagement as the Sanchez video. So far in 2018 United has published almost 700 videos on Facebook. The average rate of interaction across United’s entire output is 24k fan engagements per video. Some videos grow big, others stay small.

It’s a similar story at the other Big Six clubs. Liverpool has released some stellar video content of its own this year. Highlights of the Legends game against Bayern Munich scored almost as many engagements as United’s Sanchez post. However, like United, there is plenty of blue water between Liverpool’s top-performing videos and the rest of the club’s output on Facebook.

Activity this year

The twenty Premier League clubs have published 10k videos so far this year, which represents one-third of their total content output on Facebook.  Chelsea is by far the most active publisher of videos with an average daily frequency of seven videos, twice the Premier League average. Manchester City puts out an average of four videos per day against United’s three.

 

Looking at video as a proportion of all club activity on Facebook, individual clubs rely on video to varying extents. The club with the highest proportion of video in its context mix is Southampton (62%). For Bournemouth, video is less than 20% of total output. There are also variances in the average duration of videos posted on Facebook. Brighton & Hove are the kings of the 30-second segment, whereas Arsenal serves up videos with an average viewing time of four minutes. Manchester United likes to keep videos short and snappy. A bit like Nobby Stiles in his prime.

Data table shows total Facebook video output and fan engagement for each club for January-July 2018. Chelsea publishes video content most frequently but Manchester United achieves most fan engagement.The final column (video engagements per 10k fans) normalises the distribution of video engagements by the size of each club’s fan base. This shows that Wolves, Liverpool and West Ham fans are the most motivated consumers of club videos.

 

Turning activity into value

Stepping back and looking at the overall level of fan activity, video has generated a total of 68 million engagements with club fans in the first seven months of this year. Video’s share of fan engagement across all formats is running at 35%, which is in the same ballpark as its share of club output. Let’s consider this finding for a moment. The accepted wisdom within digital marketing is that video is the jewel in content’s crown. Yet the data for the Premier League suggests that in terms of share of output and engagement, video is only marginally more efficient than other formats.

The lesson here is that we need to stop thinking about video as a format which guarantees big audiences and consistently high levels of engagement. Within each club’s timeline some videos perform exceptionally well, others less so.

To explore this further, let’s look at the video output of the clubs in more detail. We’ve chosen the Big Six because there is greater parity between these clubs in terms of their resources and the popular appeal of their players, who drive a lot of video engagement on Facebook.

To understand the performance of individual videos published by each club, we’ve identified posts with a minimum of 10k fan engagements. In the data table for the Big Six we can see that 68% of Manchester United’s videos achieve at least 10k responses from fans. These high-performing posts contribute 93% of United’s video engagement. It’s a similar story for Liverpool, but for Chelsea and Manchester City fan engagement is concentrated in a much smaller percentage of each club’s video output.

 

As a final examination of each club’s video strategy we need a level playing field to remove the influence of Manchester United’s massive advantage in fan numbers. We can do this by asking a simple question; How much output is required for a club to hit 80% of its fan engagement? With the exception of Chelsea, there is a consistent level of efficiency. On average, each club achieves 80% of fan engagement from 45% of its video output. 

 

The flipside is that each club is left with a long tail of video posts which contribute only 20% of fan engagement. This is where the clubs could be more selective in how they curate and publish content. Done well, video delivers outstanding results, but the clubs need to be as discriminating as their fans in deciding what to release and when. As it is, the clubs could pull half of their video output with little impact on how fans engage with them.

It’s an important point with implications for the clubs’ relationships with commercial partners. It would be unrealistic of sponsors to expect every post to match United’s Alexis Sanchez effort, but neither do they want to be part of the long tail.

The best way for the clubs to realise the value of their video assets is to stay on the right side of the engagement equation by keeping an iron-grip on quality. Focus on the posts fans want to see and do more of what works. Clubs may have to resist the temptation to push out video – any video – simply to fill their timeline.

The fans appreciate the difference between quality and quantity. The clubs will prosper if they do the same.

 

Newton Insight’s full audit of the Premier League clubs’ performance in five social networks in 2017/18 is available to download FREE here.

We’re always open to discussing our research with clubs, sponsors and the media. Please contact us at info@newtoninsight.net

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