I intend to analyze the transfer of Iker Casillas to FC Porto and to show a practical benefit of this transfer for the club’s brand from the perspective of popularity in social media.
IKER CASILLAS DID NOT HELP PORTO TO WIN IN THE PORTUGUESE PRIMEIRA LIGA, BUT HE HELPED HIS NEW CLUB TO SUCCEED IN SOCIAL MEDIA AND INCREASE CLUB’S REVENUES.
The initial reasons for writing this article were to structure fans’ community and develop a common methodology of assessment of club’s target audience. But we could not analyze the problem fully, because we did not have full access to social media that belong to Iker Casillas, Real Madrid and Porto. So the only option for us was to analyze amateur fan groups in social media.
A club has a certain number of fans, but may expect that the number of fans will increase thanks to the loyal fans of the player, fans of his former club where he became a star/idol, or fans of the national team that a player represents.
A player may count on growth of audience thanks to club’s and league’s fans. Nevertheless, there may be outflow of followers too.
HE IS A LEGEND, FOREVER A REAL MADRID PLAYER!! (C) FAN PAGE PORTO
Such hypotheses seem quite logical, but unfortunately their evaluation and confirmation by means of statistical methods is a very difficult task although we tried to find suitable alternatives. So, we did some research, but could not define in what proportion a club and a player get new followers. Nevertheless, we found other interesting relationships.
Mainly because of a player, fans have subscribed to the page of the new club.
We have been lucky to work with the CIS segment, and the collected data was representative. There is only one group dedicated to Porto in social networks that is popular among the Russian-speaking internet users. The effect that this group experienced may be projected to official social pages of Porto, but at a different scale.
Looking at the graph, one may see that Iker Casillas increased the number of followers by approximately 5,700 – 7,500 people. Note the spike of growth of followers after a sensational victory over Bayern Munich. Influence of Iker Casillas transfer was observed for 4 months from the moment of signing up to the month of November.
Comments made by fans support our hypotheses. One of the comments is as follows:
TAKE CARE OF OUR (REAL MADRID) LEGEND. (C)
Based on the content analysis of comments that were written on Porto’s page in Vkontakte (popular russian social network), one may presume that among active Porto’s followers there are fans of Real Madrid and personal fans of Iker Casillas.
IT IS INTERESTING THAT A SENSATIONAL WIN OVER BAYERN MUNICH AND TRANSFER OF A TOP-PLAYER BRING MORE OR LESS SIMILAR EFFECT IN TERMS OF AUDIENCE REACH-OUT.
It is safe to say that Porto have not lost at least from the point of view of commerce and reputation having decided on inviting a Spanish veteran to play for their team. Another thing is that during the season Iker Casillas was unable to help his new club to win on the pitch.
The club nearly beat back the cost of Iker Casillas by means of sales of fan merchandise and extended club’s audience in social media.
IN THE FIRST DAYS AFTER ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE TRANSFER OF IKER CASILLAS THE NUMBER OF LIKES IN PORTO’S COMMUNITY ON FACEBOOK INCREASED BY 60,000.
Loud transfer – sensational win.
Sensational win against a top-club in the Champion’s League has the same effect in terms of social interactions as signing up of an unanticipated transfer.
When clubs focus on interaction and coverage of a large number of fans through social networks, it is important to consider consequences of the transfer campaign and which impact a new signing or sale of a player will have on the team’s performance and social activity in the media.
A similar approach was taken by Manchester United that signed Park Ji-sung from South Korea, but now we are talking about the veteran stars.
Growth of the fan base directly affects increase in sales of fan merchandise and club attractiveness to sponsors and partners in a particular region. Social networks may be used as an indicative metrics in this case.
Thus, Toronto benefits from signing Giovinco. Giovinco’s transfer is ambitious, because it is supposed to help the club to compete at the highest level.
Finally, Barcelona will almost certainly lose because of the upcoming transfer of Dani Alves. The team will stay as strong as before, but the club will lose in terms of online presence, because Dani Alves is very active in social networks. So, absence of Dani Alves in the garnet shirt will be a significant loss for the club unless another socially active defender is found.
In conclusion, social media are not just a metric of club’s popularity. They are also important for taking strategic decisions at the time of a transfer campaign.