Following last week’s lockdown extension, the PSL Covid-19 suspension was also automatically extended.
Without live football, supporters have been enjoying replays of old matches on TV. Whereas TV engagement is mainly the responsibility of broadcasters like SuperSport, the onus is on clubs themselves to keep supporters engaged off the screen and grow their fan bases.
Clubs have been forced to come up with more creative content for their fans, especially on social media, and the results have been fascinating. This is the one of the main avenues for growing club followership. Since the season started we’ve been tracking off-the-field stats to analyse club social media growth (in terms of followers).
Once a month (usually midway through the month, we calculated how many followers clubs had gained.. Although clubs are engaged on many social media platforms, our analysis focused on Twitter, a place where most of the fan-to-club and club-to-club interactions and conversations take place.
Three of South Africa’s Top Five most followed sports teams on Twitter are PSL teams. Chiefs (1,8 million+ followers) and Pirates (1.5million+) are the two most followed sports teams, ahead of national cricket account Cricket South Africa (1,1million+), and the national rugby team account Springboks (740k). Sundowns are 5th, approaching 700k. This is only for sports teams, not individual players, broadcasters or federations. Chiefs (top on Twitter like they are on the field) are approaching 2 million Twitter followers, and were top of the social media table on the opening weekend of the season.
PSL Twitter Table
The Twitter table remains somewhat unchanged from the start of the season – with Chiefs, Pirates and Sundowns on top, and Stellenbosch at the bottom. Fourteen of the sixteen PSL top-flight sides are in the same spot as they were at the start of the season. The only movers are Baroka, who’ve gone from 11th to 12th, directly swapping places with Polokwane City (a dormant account). As such, our analysis focuses on followers gained and percentage changes, not just follower numbers.
4 – Cape Town City are the biggest jumpers relatively in the social media table from the opening weekend of the season. Position-wise, they remain unchanged in 8th position, but have gained 36 797 followers since the opening weekend of the season, the 4th highest total this season.
55% – Stellenboch lead the way in terms of percentage change in followers this season. The men from the Cape winelands have grown 61% in following to 28 793, from 17 900 at the start of the season.
20% – Baroka (20%), Sundowns (20%), Chippa (24%), Cape Town City (24%) and Highlands Park (40%) are the only sides that have gained above 20% of followers from the season opening weekend.
4 000 – Polokwane City’s account has gained almost 4000 followers since the opening weekend of the season, although the account hasn’t posted since September 2018.
Monthly followers this season
The table below shows monthly followers per club this season. A darker color represents a higher number of followers. For example, we can see that Kaizer Chiefs gained most followers in October & February, both Soweto derby months.
Wits (September), Celtic (December) and Maritzburg (April) reached 200 000 followers at some point this season, while Highlands Park (November) and Arrows (January) got to 150 000 also during this campaign.
AmaZulu are less than 500 followers away from 150k. On the lower end of the scale, Polokwane (September) and Baroka (November), celebrated 100k followers this season, while Highlands Park reached 50k in November.
Although Ajax Cape Town are currently competing in the Gladafrica Championship on-field, the Urban Warriors will not be out of place with other top-flight sides in the social media table. With 166k+ followers, they would go straight to 9th place, fighting for a Top 8 spot with neighbours and Twar rivals, Cape Town City.
By Opta Jabu