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Social Media Uses by Bundesliga Clubs

The second day at Digital Methods in Vienna starts with a speed panel which begins with a paper by Philip Sinner on the German Bundesliga's social media activities. Football is a popular and everyday culture phenomenon in Germany, and has an important place in people's lives; the clubs themselves do professional PR work, of course, but have yet to fully embrace social media as part of this work. How successful is this in managing identities, relationships, and information to date? What are they trying to do? Which social media platforms are they using?

Philip examined the various social media offerings and spoke to the media directors of various Bundesliga clubs, as well as reviewing the content of their social media activities. He first went to the home pages of the clubs, to identify which social media platforms are being linked to from these pages - but not all of their social media activities (especially for the international market, e.g. Bayern Munich's Weibo accounts) are linked to from these pages. Of course there are also various fan-operated accounts, which are sometimes difficult to distinguish from official accounts.

Unsurprisingly, Bayern and Borussia Dortmund are the two leading clubs in terms of fans and followers online; the other clubs lag well behind, but these leaders are still well behind international leaders like Manchester United. This also needs to be compared to the standing of the clubs - their financial situation, their membership size, and their geographical home population.

Philip followed up by speaking to the social media leaders in various clubs, as well as checking their views against the observable reality of their activity. Bayern and Dortmund are in a category of their own, offering almost all social media platforms and reaching a very large audience; a second group reaches a medium-size audience across various platforms; and a third uses many platforms but has yet to reach a larger audience for their social media activity.

Most of these clubs aim mainly to inform their fans about current developments; they also provide material to enable their fans to better identify with the club (e.g. also by providing videos); and they manage their relationship with the fans, also by offering exclusive content. But their aims don't always match what they actually do, there's much more to do here.