• Andrew Collins

Passion Index

Engagement, the key into the fan hearts around the world online! Engagement is a universal metric that can be used to assess fan passion anywhere in the world, including China.

Mailman has reviewed in the past years in its Red Card report the performance of European football clubs in China. Our Report included so far the average engagement a club has across social media, which is a good measure of online influence. However, it does not consider engagement in relation to the number of followers, which assess fan passion. As this is a very important area in understanding which clubs and content strategies are performing best, we are introducing a new metric, the Passion Index.

Weibo is the number one social platform for football clubs to promote themselves to the mass market China, it is also the most interactive of the established channels and therefore is used as the source of our rankings. The Passion Index shows average post engagement per 100,000 followers. The score assesses how passionate each club’s supporters are and is independent of total followers or number of posts. So, let’s jump right into it.


Three major things can be noticed:

1. Big win for AC Milan. AC Milan dominates the passion index ranking, gaining three times higher score than third-placed Real Madrid. The reason for Milan’s high performance is its content. Milan produces unique content for its Chinese supporters on a regular basis. An exclusive live stream Q&A for the Chinese Fans with De Sciglio, a big derby promo on Weibo and big coverage on the takeover of the Chinese investors at AC Milan are an example of what they have posted in calendar week 15 only. The two dominant teams, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid, are not the most successful or biggest clubs in the world, however, they are definitely two of the most creative and active accounts on Chinese social media. The posts are always exclusively written for their Chinese fans, and the response is great.

2. Bundesliga consistency. There are four German clubs in the top ten. This is due to the commitment, not only of the clubs but also the league itself. As Red Card 2017 found, the Bundesliga is the most influential league online in China. This performance certainly positively impacts its clubs, that said, the engagement of the clubs in their own right is impressive. Both Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg (and soon BVB) have permanent offices in Mainland China. This offline commitment towards China pays off online too.

3. Premier League clubs need to improve. In comparison to the Bundesliga, the Premier league clubs are doing very badly. Only two clubs from the biggest league in the world make the top ten, and only just. Their performance is mainly due to the huge numbers of followers each club has. At the moment, the clubs, with the exception of LFC and Tottenham, are struggling to convert their influence into interaction from their core fan base. More creative and China orientated content is needed to establish a deeper connection with their fan base, as the Bundesliga has managed to.

The key takeaway from this analysis is how important content is in generating engagement on Chinese social media. Engagement is not exclusively dependent on the number of followers, it also depends on the commitment of the clubs/associations to the Chinese fans. We can break it down to three key attributes an account has to pursue to be successful, the 3Cs: Be creative, be cool and be Chinese!

Mailman is the leading China sports marketing platform. We help global rights holders, athletes, and leagues build a successful business in China. We serve, invest and partner with our clients at every opportunity.

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