Sunday, February 19, 2012

MLS YouTube Engagement

In the past few weeks we have covered Twitter and Facebook for Major League Soccer Teams to see how they engage their fans. We will use these stats as a baseline to compare who makes the biggest gains this year and figure out why some clubs shine and others fall. All of this is done without a sense of competition, but more out of a sense that successful clubs who engage their fans, get more attention for MLS and soccer as a whole in the US and therefore indirectly bring more value to the games that we love as hopefully stadiums continue to sell out.

One caveat with these stats is the MLS site does not always use YouTube as the source video.  They use Microsoft Silverlight, therefore some teams may have high views on the MLS website that are not captured in these stats.

These stats were gathered in January 1, 2012, and as before we will start by tying them to the Metro Population as a way to reduce the impact size that a large or small metro may have on eyeballs checking out your team's content.

This first table is sorted by Metro Population (as described previously), so that you can see how the large cities generally outperform the smaller ones.  But you also can see some interesting anomalies here, like the San Jose Earthquakes getting 4 million views (which I'll explain in a bit.).  I took two basic stats for this table (views and subscribers).  In later editions I will also be including # of videos uploaded.

Here is the same table sorted by views.

The top 5 teams have a few different reasons why they are at the top of the list by raw numbers of views.
San Jose: Fluke goal. They have one video with 3.9M views.  And it deserves a lot of views.  SJ Goalies scores a goal in a friendly against West Bromwich. Take that away and they are a still respectable 8th on this table for a team that has not done to well with Twitter or Facebook.
Dallas: Moral outrage. Has one video with 300k views about cheerleaders, that seems to be getting negative attention because the dance team leader talked about testing them for body fat in tryouts.  Take that out and they still top 1M for a club that has not been a leader in attendance in a crowded local sports market. The majority of their other top views are from 3-4 years ago.
Vancouver: Sex sells. Has one video with 458k views.  Why so popular? It features their 2011 kit unveiling...being painted on a naked female. But again you take that away and they still have a near the top 800k views. and they are second in number of subscribers. So there is some success there. Probably helped with them being a new MLS club too.
Los Angeles Galaxy: Beckham Plus. The addition of many international stars and being near the top of most lists on social media engagement in MLS and the recent Supporter's Shied and MLS champs are cleary the reasons to see LAG so high.
Kansas City: Rebranding works. Plus a charismatic rookie serenading women's soccer most recognized personality helps to (405k views). Savvy marketing department helps get views beyond a smaller market. (Hometown bias a bit here, but they are onto something.) Plus it should be noted these counts do not include the Wizards96 You Tube Account (abandoned Nov 2010), which would add 750k views.

On the other hand, Toronto FC's pathetic showing here has a simple explanation: no videos.  Since their inception in 2007 they have contributed around 80 videos.  Vancouver meanwhile has almost 700 videos. Maybe TFC is using another platform? I cant find another explanation.

Now lets sort accounting for metro population to see if any new patterns emerge:
YT per 10k = (YouTube Views/Metro Pop)*10,000
So now the top 5 are slightly different. San Jose stays at the top with the popular Goal by Goalie video.  Vancouver with the smaller population shows how significant those 1.2M views are now.  KC stays near the top and moves up a few spots. And Real Salt Lake rockets up from 10th, similar to other big improvements on previous posts on Twitter and Facebook.
Biggest Winners: +6 Spots: Columbus 12->6, RSL 10->4
Biggest Losers: -7 spots: Chivas USA 7->14, New York 9->16

(Side note: if you wanted to calculate the YT Views per 10k for SJE, I already did it for you. 3,235 putting them in between SKC and RSL).

Having a lot of subscribers probably helps, but it didn't seem to tell a lot of stories so I did not incorporate it in the analysis except to show you.

So it pays to have at least one video go viral (hopefully for good reasons, not like FC Dallas), but as we go through the season I hope to be able to bring you other good tactics being utilized by teams using social media.  What patterns do you see?

If you would like access to this data on Google Docs or are interested in this project please email me at

I'll leave you with a great example of YouTube marketing from Sporting Kansas City to their fans for the 2011 Winter Holidays.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Year in Review DVD's

Today, Mike Kuhn of Down the Byline tweeted about the lack of season review DVD for Sporting Kansas City.
Chance Myers SKC), Bobby Convey (SJE), Aurélien Collin (SKC)

Via Wikimedia Commons and Ryan Knapp 
He had previously wrote a post about this at the end of the season which grabbed my attention. Frankly I was a bit shocked that year in review DVD's (YIR-DVD) would not be fairly commonplace for any sports club.  The overall cost should not be that great with production and packaging being the highest costs.  But with a little foresight, they should be relatively easy to produce at low cost.  Encourage your video crew to be keeping a collection of highlight clips to be used at the end of the season.  Have the video crew and leadership always thinking "Would this clip by great to help tell a story at the end of the year?"

Have your PR team thinking and writing through the whole season about the narrative arcs along a few different themes.  Of course you can use the natural order of games to anchor the story, and in addition you can add in special vignettes on players as they look back on the season (a common technique in reality TV shows) as sub-plots.  At the end of the season you grab a few key staff to write the script, book some time for your team voices to record the narration and voila you have a product to sell and keep your fans interest stoked in the offseason.

Here is the closest we have to a summary video of the 2011 season:

(Update: Mike Kuhn of @DownTheByline tweeted me this video Sunday AM. 2011 Season Highlights - 13 minutes of soccer action.  A great start but with a little more time and some narrative you could get to the finished project.  Aim for 23 minutes and it mkaes for a half hour of broadcast time.

Now of course I understand video production of high quality takes some time, especially if you start de novo at the end of the season. But think of all the quality outcomes from the making of this video:

1. A succinct in the moment historical record of the season for future reference
2. A DVD to be watched over and over by young fans to solidify their love for the team (I did this with Chargers and Padres VCR tapes as a kid)
3. Filler for your affiliated TV stations to show during the offseason at 2am
4. Something for passionate fans to show their friends and turn them into passionate fans
5. Surplus DVD's could be given to season ticket holders or used for contest raffles
6. Printing volumes decreases the individual cost
7. Excerpts could be posted on YouTube for content and drive more interest via social media
8. Already produced content could be packaged as extras and bonuses (Behind the scenes of the Holiday Video Shoot)

Any other ideas you can add?

So Sporting Club it is not too late to document the first year as Sporting KC.  And don't forget Sporting Kansas City, it is not to late to prepare for 2012 and make this a reality and reduced cost and high yield to the club.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A History of Sporting KC/Wizards Commercials

Sporting Kansas City unveiled the first TV ad for the 2012 season, titling the campaign "Live for It." As I posted on the Ad Astra FB page, I was neutral on this ad.  It was solid but it didn't inspire me as much as the I Believe That We Will Win or even the (slightly overplayed) Omar Bravo/Kei Kamara ads with the High Noon Standoff/Drum soundtracks. Both of those seemed to have a different level of creativity, artistic direction and passion then the most recent one.  Now I am no videographer, and I realize they take a lot of work.  Maybe it was my high expectations with the great work SKC marketing has done so far.One thing I would love to see is a chance for fans to remix footage and soundtracks to make their own ad.

So to really get a good comparison I thought I would just go back to YouTube and find all the commercials I could.  Here is a collection of them.  I am only including ones that appeared to air on TV, not the very creative and funny shorts compiled by the team over the years,  There are some really good ones in here, and some not so good ones.  One thing that is evident is the team and the players are willing to have fun with it. Which one do you like best?
2011 Omar Bravo  

2011 Kei Kamara  

2011 #IBelieveThatWeWillWin (more on the chant here)  

2010 New Stadium with Kei Kamara and Teal Bunbury  

2009 Besler Wants Waffles

2009 Getting to know Jack Jewsbury

 2009 Getting to know Davy Arnaud

2008 Kerry Zavagnin "Say Anything" Spoof  

2008 Kevin Hartman "16 Candles" Spoof  

 2008 Claudio Lopez Around Town

2008 Jimmy Conrad Crashes the Cauldron

2008 Jimmy Conrad International One Rate  

2008 Liquid 9 Promo

2008 Kevin Hartman Eric Kronberg Hot Plate  

2008 Kevin Hartman Eric Kronberg Contract  

2007 Abandoned Warehouse

 2007 Acercate with Nick Garcia and Jose Burciaga (embedding disabled on this video)

Facebook Engagement of MLS teams

Earlier this week we looked at the Twitter stats of the 19 Major League Soccer (MLS) teams to see if there were any baseline trends.  This week we will take a look at Facebook as a social media platform for reaching out to fans and the soon-to-be fans.  I do have some updated stats from February but I thought the first set of stats would be good to keep them all in January so we get a similar baseline. So these were taken on January 2, 2012.

As with the Twitter stats I used the metro area population as a reference point to normalize the widely variable populations among all the different MLS cities.  The two stats we took from the official Facebook MLS pages are Likes and 'people talking about.' Likes you should probably already comprehend, but it is important to realize that it can be a passive measure, since you could click once and forget you ever clicked a few days ever and never engage with the brand again.  For a better understanding of the "people talking about' (PTA) metric see Mashable's overview. Basically 'talking about' means any time someone interacts or mentions your brand on Facebook or its' various platforms it will count you as a 'PTA'.

So looking at the Facebook stats sorted by likes, we can see the two teams (LAG and NYR) near the top based simply on the enormous population advantage. Also LA would likely be at the top on sheer numbers because of the recent MLS Cup win, ownership group AEG and the efforts put into securing world-renowned players giving it the likely top spot in most recognized MLS team.

But also impressive is Seattle being in the number 2 spot, likely reflective of the Northwest city enthusiastic embracing of the Sounders FC as evident in the sheer numbers that attend matches.  Also at the bottom of the table, you can find Chivas USA as they are overshadowed by their neighbors/host at the Home Depot Center, the Galaxy.  But to get a better sense of the degree which a team has made an impact we can calculate Facebook likes per 10,000 people:

Facebook likes per 10k = (FB likes/Metro Pop)*10,000

Biggest winner:  +8 Columbus Crew moving from 17 to 9 and San Jose Earthquakes moving from 14 to 6.
Biggest loser: -14 New York Red Bulls from 3 to 17

Now we sea that 4 small-market teams (Real Salt Lake, Seattle, Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City) have jumped to the top with Salt Lake and Seattle having nearly twice the number compared to even the #3 spot.  External factors that may help explain some of the high ratings here:
  • Real Salt Lake: 2009 MLS Cup champs, Strong CONCACAF run in 2011, Soccer Specific Sttadium (2008)
  • Seattle Sounders: Breaking Attendance records every year, MLS expansion team ('09), strong Cascadia rivalry, Three time Lama Hunt US Open Cup Champs ('09,'10,'11), strong supporter culture with Emerald City Supporters
  • Portland Timbers: MLS expansion team ('11), strong Cascadia rivalry, strong supporter culture in the Timbers Army
  • Sporting Kansas City: Successful rebranding in 2011, new Soccer Specific Stadium (Livestrong Park), strong finish in 2011
Again some surprises at the bottom with Chivas, FC Dallas, and the Red Bulls being bested by newcomer Montreal Impact.  The Red Bulls have a well known international brand with Red Bull but do not be able to capitalize on this locally with the diverse population, probably because of lackluster play on the field as of late and the wide range of entertainment options in New York.  FC Dallas also is surprising to see near the bottom with entertaining players like Brek Shea and David Ferreira (injured in 2011) and a recent rebrand and soccer specific stadium (although it is pretty far from downtown.)

Now let's look at 'People talking about' abbreviated as either 'PTA' or 'Talking.' (See the beginning for the explanation).

Again the Galaxy are on top when sorting by raw number of PTA.  But before analyzing this too much lets again adjust for population as we did before. (NB: I had to increase the per number from 10k to 100k to make the number a little more meaningful without resorting to decimal points.)

Facebook PTA per 100k = (FB likes/Metro Pop)*100,000

Again we see the rise of the small market clubs like Real Salt Lake and San Jose jumping up.  But as I looked at this chart I began to think if this stat really captures engagement by fans on Facebook.  Is population the best denominator here to even out different size cities?  What if we looked at PTA in comparison to total likes?  This would help weed out the effect of  'click and forget fans' who never log on to Facebook again or go see what DC United is up to.  This shows a little bit better how well a team is able to keep fans coming back for more.  This shows the teams that gets fans to like, comment, share and talk with their friends about the team, which is MUCH more valuable.

PTA per 1k FB likes = (PTA/Likes)x1000

Why did I use this calculation instead of percentage?  Because looking at 2.9% vs 0.8% of fans engaging wasn't very exciting.  With this stat you can say for every 1,000 people who like the page, you can expect X number of people to talk about you.  With this chart you can see the difference between teams that continue to engage fans at the top and those who are having a harder time capturing that same enthusiasm.  Of course the PTA stat is related to time but I'm not sure how long it looks back.  We will take a look how this evolves in the regular season on a day after all teams had played. But again this gives us a baseline.

Feel free to share your comments or ideas about other stats to compile!

Monday, February 6, 2012

MLS Social Media Stats

MLS has typically had to fight to grab some attention on the mainstream sports and media outlets, so I have watched with interest how the different clubs have utilized social media to push their own content to fans and get them engaged in spreading the passion for one's club.  Being in Kansas City I have been really lucky because Sporting Kansas City (as a team and as players) has been very active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in addition to creating their own private social media site in Sporting Club.

At the beginning of each month starting with January 2012, I will collect the following pieces of data:

Facebook: Likes, People talking about
Twitter: Tweets, Followers
YouTube: Uploaded videos, Subscriber, Views

 I will be making the data available to anyone who is interested in analyzing it on their own, as long as they share the findings with the public.  Just email me and I will send the link to you on Google Docs.  I will also use this post to link to each analysis I do.  Sometimes it will be an overview of a certain SM platform, other times it will be just picking up on interesting trends.

MLS Twitter Engagement

Let's start with some baseline numbers as we track social media stats through the season. Measuring engagement is not easy without using some sophisticated (read: expensive) tools, but there are some crude measures that may give us an idea of how some teams may stack up against others in utilizing various social media platforms to get their team in front of your eyeballs.

To give us an idea of a level playing field we need some baseline to compare different size markets against each other.  You would think if you had more people in your market, say New York or Los Angeles, you would probably have higher gross numbers then a small market like Columbus.   So using the census for American (2010) and Canadian (2006) metro areas (source: Wikipedia, OMB).*

*You may have some objections but hey these are statistically regular so I am not technically including San Francisco-Oakland in the San Jose metro area.

Now lets include their Twitter stats (followers and tweets) for January 2012:

 As you can see the LA Galaxy fresh off their 2011 MLS Cup win, 2nd largest metro area and arguably with the strongest international presence are at the top with number of followers. You would kind of expect that. So are they resting on their laurels?  Also newcomers Montreal are near the bottom, but still doing pretty well for a new club given that Colorado and San Jose have been around long enough to make a splash.  I'm especially looking at you San Jose, with all your tech savvy companies there I would expect a much higher presence.

But let's make local metro population a factor and calculate the Twitter followers per 10k people in the lcoal metro area.  Written mathmatecially as:
Twitter per 10k = (Twitter followers/Metro Pop)*10,000

Now we see a much different picture that drops the LA Galaxy down to 8th, and puts RSL, Sporting, Seattle, Columbus, Portland and Vancouver far ahead of the pack given their metro population.  One could make a solid case that in a large metro area there are more opportunities for other sports and non-athletic interests, but it does show a different side of things.  Especially seeing New York and Chivas way at the bottom in another class.  So why the stark differnce?  One hint might be the number of tweets.  Some of the better performing clubs on Twitter engagement by this metric have considerably more tweets posted.  But then even Chicago has a pretty high volume of tweets but lacks the following per 10k.

Largest drop in position:  
-14! New York Red Bulls going from 4th by Followers to 18th when adjusted for metro population.
Biggest gain in position: 
+14! Real Salt Lake going from 15th by Followers to number one when adjusted for metro population.

So if you are in the relegation zone of MLS Twitter accounts, you may want to start paying attention to the top 5 here because they are doing something you are not.

Here are the two charts side by side for easier comparison:

Do you see any other trends here?  More to come on Facebook and YouTube later this week.