Premier League clubs chase digital growth

Manchester City and Liverpool announced an expansion of their social media presence with more local language websites and Twitter accounts to cater for a growing international fan base.

City, whose global profile until relatively recently, extended no further than them being the ‘other’ club in Manchester,  launched 10 new Twitter accounts in addition to existing feeds in English and Arabic to engage with supporters in Chinese, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

The club said the accounts will give fans in more than 160 countries access to Manchester City Twitter content in their own language.

“As the Club continues to attract fans from across the world and our global community grows, it’s important to find new ways to connect and engage with them in order to build deeper relationships,” said Diego Gigliani, the club’s director of marketing, media and fan development, in a statement.

Sounding like a contestant on the X Factor, Gigliani continued: “Translating our website into 13 languages was one step on this journey – creating another 10 Twitter accounts is another.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool Managing Director Ian Ayre said that his club would be launching an official Chinese website, the Merseysiders’ third after ones set up in Indonesia and Thailand earlier in the year.

Liverpool claim to be the world’s most digitally engaged club with 34 official social media accounts including 12 in local languages on Twitter.

Expect to see that printed on an Anfield banner in the near future. I suppose in the absence of any tangible success on the pitch, being the world’s most digitally engaged club counts for something.

“Extending the Liverpool FC brand beyond borders and connecting with our 200 million global fans also makes good commercial sense for the Club and will help us achieve a competitive advantage on and off the field,” he said.

“We can create added value for our corporate partners and maximize the international commercial opportunities that benefit everyone at the Club, including the players, coaching staff and the global community of fans across the world.”

Which all sounds well and good, but at present it’s difficult to see how Liverpool’s huge global fanbase translates into anything other than a roaring trade in counterfeit replica shirts in the street markets of many Asian countries.