FC Barcelona marked the New Year with the announcement that they’d cracked the 50 million fan barrier on Facebook. As you’d expect the news was delivered with much fanfare and picked up by media outlets the world over but I can’t help but find myself asking “so what?”
Don’t get me wrong, the numbers are impressive and I’m sure every club would shout it from the rooftops if they were the most popular sporting outfit in the world but outside the corridors of the Camp Nou, beyond the headline figure, does it actually matter to digital communications professionals?
This sort of vanity metric tells us nothing. It tells us nothing about how Barcelona have been able to leverage their social media presence for the good of the club, how well they’ve been able to monitise their audience or their wider digital strategy.
Even trying to make assumptions about their success on the back of these numbers is a mug’s game. Quantity is not always indicative of quality, particularly when it comes to sports clubs. Football teams are not normal brands. Every supporter is an advocate and many would follow their club regardless of its digital output. Many do.
Let’s make 2014 the year where the boasting about fanbase stops and the conversation about the business case starts.