LaLiga’s social media strategy of Spanish football has allowed it to surpass 100 million followers, through 22 profiles on 12 different platforms, an effort in which it employs 25 people and with which it generates business, assured EFE the responsible for employers’ digital treatment.
“We are the first League to broadcast its matches via Facebook in eight countries of the Indian subcontinent. We have generated business with social networks and are allowing us to take actions to reach the consumer directly”, says Alfredo Bermejo, responsible for this area in the club association.
In addition to having sold to the social network the broadcast rights of all championship matches for eight Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan) for three seasons, the networks offer the employer football direct revenue through advertising and indirect income, through actions with sponsors.
“We have managed to generate digital assets and franchises of content relevant to our advertisers that we distribute on our platforms,” .says Bermejo
The relevance of social networks is such that it is already part of the sponsorship contracts of the competition. “If a brand searches for a particular audience interested in sports, the networks that have generated these audiences and can activate it generate more business. Our activity comes from there,” he explains.
In the last seven years, the Spanish league has gone from having 3.9 million followers to the more than 100 that it has surpassed recently, an evolution in which they started “somewhat slower than other leagues and clubs”, which made them have to “try harder” and “accelerate in the last yamies years.”
“Networks allow us to be closer to fans from all over the world who have an interest in football and LaLiga, but who will surely never set foot in a stadium in Spain,” Bermejo defines.
Adapting to the world
Of this hundred million profiles following LaLiga on different platforms, the largest number, seven million, come from Spain, but the distance of other nations is disensing less, with predominance from Asian countries.
Thus, Indonesia (with more than 5.2 million followers), India (5.1); Mexico (5), Brazil (4.7) China and Egypt (4 million each), are the main countries of origin of Spanish football fans on the networks, according to employer data.
To fuel the passion of these fans, the club association uses 22 profiles in twelve different languages, among which are the best known (Spanish, English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Portuguese) but also others such as pidgin english, a English variant spoken in several African countries, wolof (Senegal and Gambia) or lingala (Democratic Republic of the Congo).
“We try not to translate the content, but adapt it to the market, understand what the tone is, the way we communicate in that country or the platform,” says Bermejo. A team of 25 people and ten nationalities do this work, along with LaLiga international delegates and auxiliary agencies.
The variety in languages also applies to networks: to the already known Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, or the emerging TikTok (a network of short videos that started with music and is now used to distribute images of all kinds) are added four networks (Weibo, WeChat, Douyin and Toutiao), two Russian individuals (OK and VK) and the Line messaging platform, predominant in countries such as Japan, Thailand and Indonesia.
Such a global group of fans not only requires adapting language and tone, but also choosing the most relevant content for each country, for which those responsible for the digital strategy of the employer try to take advantage of the geographical links of the players.
“Wu Lei in China has given us a huge boost,” Bermejo says of the Espanyol striker, signed by the ‘parakeet’ ensemble in January 2019. Since its arrival, LaLiga fans on Asian giant Weibo’s social network have grown by 82%. The striker’s last goal, which was the 2–2 derby tie with Barcelona on 4 January, generated 400 million views on that net.
The numbers and followers seek, in any case, to grow the main business of the competition, which remains the sale of television rights, an aspect in which networks can generate “new business opportunities with new audiences” considers the responsible for the employer’s digital strategy.
“We try to get these fans to know football and LaLiga, become subscribers of the audiovisual channel in each market, or generate opportunities to have sponsors in those regions”, sums up Alfredo Bermejo.