Intro

The Sport Social Media Index is an annual league table of all 148 British professional football, rugby and cricket teams, ranked according to the best use of social media by their official club channels.

Launched in 2013, the annual Index is compiled by measuring the social media performance of each team based, not just on an algorithm, but research from a team of seven people who looked at eight social networks.  The data was analysed by a panel of four judges who presided over the final results.

The Index, produced by PR and social media agency Umpf – and partnered once again by William Hill – includes an overall table of all 148 teams ranked top to bottom, plus nine additional tables showing rankings based on each sporting league.based on each sporting league.

Last year, Spurs topped the overall 2013 Sport Social Media Index, but this year newly-promoted Premier League side Leicester City topped the 148-team league (see case study, below).  None of the six Premier League sides in last year’s top ten made this year’s top ten. 

In fact, the balance of power within the top ten shifted from the Premier League (six teams in 2013; one this year), to the Football League Championship (two teams in 2013; four in 2014). 

Other notable inclusions in this year’s top ten included rugby Premiership’s Leicester Tigers (9th this year, up from 12th in 2013) and Super League’s Castleford Tigers (6th this year, up from 84th in 2013 – see case study, below).

Congratulations to Leeds United (Championship), Leyton Orient (League One), Plymouth Argyle (League Two), St Johnstone (SPL), Castleford Tigers (Super League), Leicester Tigers (Premiership), Warwickshire (CC Div One) and Worcestershire (CC Div Two) who topped the table for best social media performance in their respective leagues.

There was an overall 11% improvement in the average team score across the 148 teams, from 49.9 last year to 55.6 this year.  The average score of the top ten clubs improved by 7.5% from 63.9 to 68.7 this year from a possible total score of 100.

Tables

Click the white button for the full Sport Social Media Index ranking of all 148 clubs.
  The green buttons represent the rankings league by league. 
The documents will open into a printable PDF.

Overall league table

Methodology

There are three elements to our methodology – with a maximum score of 100 being attainable. The first element (which accounted for 70% of the total score) was a full analysis of each team’s social channels. The analysis uses data from the 1st August 2014 to the 31st August 2014.

Scores given at this stage took into account the breadth of official social channels including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. The scores also took into account community growth and engagement on Twitter and Facebook, weighted fairly to reflect the number of fans or followers the accounts already had.

Other considerations at this stage included a score for the breadth of multimedia content posted on Twitter and Facebook, including video, images, audio, official apps and external links.

The second element to our methodology was the judges’ scoring. Judges marked each team and the combined total from the judges were added together and averaged to give a final additional score for each team. This element accounted for a maximum 30% of the total scoring.

The final element to our methodology was the implementation of ‘Red Card’ penalties: 2.5% was deducted from the final score for each social media malpractice, including duplicate content, failure to use hashtags, idle periods of four or more days as well as repeated spelling and grammar mistakes.

This grand total was used to rank the teams in the final 2014 Sport Social Media Index.

Case Studies

Leicester City Football Club

Newly-promoted Leicester City have truly made their mark on the sport social media landscape this year, climbing from 9th position in 2013 to the top of the table.

The club not only has a great breadth of social media channels – including official pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Vine and Google + – but shows a strong understanding of tailoring content to suit the platform on which it is hosted. It is clear that for Leicester, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to social media.

Judges acknowledged the significant level of audience growth over the course of the year, praising content strategies optimised to encourage organic growth and consistent use of hashtags.

The use of social media image watermarks to cross-promote Leicester’s other social channels was also praised by the panel, as was the club’s excellent in-match and pre-match reporting on Facebook.

Judges were also impressed by the high levels of cross-channel audience engagement and fleet-of-foot community management.

Leeds United

Leeds United ranked second in the list of all 148 sports teams studied.

The club climbed from 11th place last year, to 2nd place in 2014.

Although Leeds does not have the breadth of channels of some of the other clubs, it’s clear that their social media team concentrate their efforts to attract significant audience engagement on the channels they do have – in particular on Twitter and Facebook.

Judges praised the use of archive content and behind-the-scenes imagery to generate engagement and noted the club’s considerable level of audience growth over the course of the year.

Castleford Tigers

Castleford are the highest ranking non-football team in the Index, achieving 6th position in the overall table. They climbed a colossal 78 places this year to snap up a place in the top ten.

Judges praised the use of community generated content (particularly through Twitter) and the club’s significant audience growth over the course of the year.

The panel also noted the wide variety of engaging content across the club’s channels, including live Twitter Q&As with players and caption contests.

Castleford were praised by judges for the use of bespoke digital assets, tailored for a multitude of different social channels.

Judges

  • Simon Banoub

    Director of marketing at sport data experts Opta

    Simon is Director of Marketing at sport data experts Opta. Simon has responsibility for the global Opta brand and has been involved in the development of the successful Opta Twitter accounts, such as @OptaJoe, which boasts over 450,000 followers as well as positioning the company as the leading providers of sports data.

  • Michael Sheehan

    Social Media Customer Experience Manager at William Hill Online

    Michael is the Social Media Customer Experience Manager at William Hill Online, currently based in their Gibraltar office he is involved in defining the policies and practices that enable William Hill employees to engage with customers through Social Media.

  • Amy Byard

    SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNT MANAGER, UMPF

    Amy is a PR and Social Media Account Manager at Umpf, with a keen interest in data analysis. She has proven experience compiling indices and league tables based on qualitative and quantitative data. Amy ranked #14 in The Drum’s 30 Women in Digital Under 30 2013.

  • Tom Scott

    Social Media Manager, Engage Interactive

    Tom is a Social Media Manager at Engage Interactive and possesses a deep knowledge of sport and social media. Tom recently won the Mark Hanson award at the UK Social Media Awards 2014, which recognises the brightest and most promising social media communicator under 30 years old.