With almost half of the year over in 2016 and the domestic football season officially over, we took a look at the top posts from European football clubs on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.
#1 Manchester United 8.67 million followers Engagement: 303,006
Manchester United, the most followed European club, also had the highest level of engagement. Their first team players and club legend Sun Jihai wished Chinese celebrity and MUFC fan, Lu Han, happy birthday by a video message posted on the club’s Weibo account. The post went viral after Lu Han forwarded it to his 18.9 million followers, showing the power of Chinese influencers and celebrity fans.
#2 Real Madrid 1.37 million followers Engagement: 16,231
The most recent of the top posts was from Real Madrid following their Champions League victory over Atletico Madrid. The simple post uses a common internet phrase ‘We are the Champions’ to ensure maximum engagement. The Champions League is the most popular club tournament in China, and their two victories in the last three years have been instrumental in growing their level of engagement.
#3 Manchester United 8.67 million followers Engagement: 9,819
The club appear in the list for the second time with their announcement of Jose Mourinho as head coach. The club asked fans to share the post and comment to show support for the new manager. The lesson here is that when the most followed club online partners with one of the most controversial managers, virality will naturally happen.
#4 Leicester City 517,000 million followers Engagement: 8,453
Leicester City launched their Sina Weibo account late into their fairytale season, but their Championship winning post still made the list. Using the same internet phrase as Real Madrid, the club reached a record level of engagement despite being the 15th most followed European club online. This demonstrates the importance of measuring engagement, instead of only focusing on your number of followers.
#5 FC Barcelona
5.37 million followers
The final post is from FC Barcelona who reflected on the death of Johan Cruyff. Chinese fans are incredibly passionate and emotionally connected to the club, so the death of their legend clearly resonated strongly with the fans:
‘If there was no you, then there would not have been the fluid total football. If there was no you, then there would not have been the Oranje style of football. If there was no you, then we would not have won the league title again after a 13 year gap. If there was no you, then there would not have been the Dream Team or La Masia. If there was no you, then football wouldn’t have had as much excitement and delight. You will forever be in the hearts of every Barcelona fan, and everyone that loves football. RIP. Forever Cruyff.