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Authenticity outplays Celebrity on Instagram as the European football transfer window closes

By Brad Rees, CEO, Mediacells

The end of the summer transfer window marks the proper beginning of the new 2022-23 football season across Europe.

As fans return to football grounds and the new broadcast cycle commences, Deloitte estimates a bumper €4.5 billion has been spent across the big five European leagues, with 49% of those transactions occurring in the English Premier League. To put this in some kind of perspective, the total spend is the equivalent of the EU’s assistance to Ukraine since the war began up until the end of May. 

Mediacells applied an engagement benchmark to the official club announcements on Instagram to provide two take aways:

Firstly, the most engaging player-transfer posts do not always equate with popularity.

In the Premier League, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the biggest deadline-day news item but his arrival at Chelsea was somewhat eclipsed by the arrival of Raheem Sterling. 

Analysis of the content in the Chelsea official posts for each transfer indicates that the unique, authentic video style evident in Sterling’s post resonates louder with fans than the more formal, stylised Auba pictorial communication. 

Secondly, it is in the creative space below the European mega club activity where the real emerging trends in creative social media best practice can be found and best typified when we get to Spain’s La Liga.

EPL Insights: #Authenti-City

There is no content formula for a winning post but a look at the top of Club Social’s Premier League rankings would seem to indicate that relevance, emotion and authenticity are key components.

Manchester City claimed the #1 spot with the Erling Haaland announcement attracting nearly 3 million engagements, deferring Manchester United’s Casemiro post to second place.

The new City striker is shown in the studio-grade video announcement as a boy, sitting on the sofa in a vintage Thomas Cook kit, around the time his father was a defender for the same team. The camera then focuses in on Haaland in his Etihad 2022-23 shirt.  The post successfully utilises nostalgia to focus attention on current sponsors. A neat trick.

La Liga Insights: #PiratesOfTheMediterranean

Beyond Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in Spain’s La Liga there are entertaining posts from Real Mallorca who mash up excerpts from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie with speedboat footage of newly-onboarded striker Vedat Muriqi with the title, ‘l mejor pirata del Mediterráneo’. 

A look at engagements per post, per 100k followers elevates Mallorca to second place in La Liga Club Social.  

Real Madrid have the advantage over FC Barcelona, perhaps because of an extra 13 million fan reach on Instagram. 

The visual treatment of Rüdiger’s arrival is typical of the La Liga style – more conservative than creative. The post attracts 4 million engagements. 

Ligue 1 Insights: #FrenchPolish

France’s Ligue 1 has the largest offering of slick, highly-polished, TV studio-grade media assets during the transfer window period.

Paris Saint-Germain showcases Renato Sanches’ arrival from Lille with a glamorous ‘mercato update’. The post attracts 0.6 million engagements.

Olympique Lyonnais manage to blend notes of nostalgia with high video production values to welcome Alexandre Lacazette back to the club.

Monaco create a stylised, Manga-style post to welcome Japanese midfielder Takumi Minamino to the club. The content is strikingly unique.

Serie A Insights: #WomensFootball

After the stunning spectacle of the Women’s Euro this summer, Serie A club Sassuolo attract significant engagement for a post announcing the arrival of Eleonora Goldoni, a striker in the Italy women’s national team. 

The official club post is created by Eleonora on an iPhone and jolts in and out of focus, like a typical Gen-Z festival instagram post, appealing to younger fans.

It is unique across the 98 teams as the only high-ranking transfer post to feature a woman.

Paulo Dybala given a rousing in-stadium welcome by AS Roma fans and was reported to have broken Cristiano Ronaldo’s shirt sales in Italy (520k) within 24 hours of his announcement as a player. The post attracts 1 million engagements.

GBL Insights: #CR7Collab

Authenticity and relevance transcend celebrity within the transfer context at least. 

Bundesliga team TSG 1899 Hoffenheim  announced the arrival of Eduardo Quaresma and benefited from a welcome post from Cristiano Ronaldo which coincided with CR7 reaching 400 million followers on Instagram. TSG Hoffenheim then presented the new signing as ‘CR7 approved’.

FC Bayern celebrated the arrival of newcomer and ex-Liverpool striker Sadio Mané with a video capture of an inspired scissor kick during a training session. The post attracts 2 million engagements.

To read Medicells’ full 2022 ‘Transfer Heroes’ Club Social Report, click here.

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