Which Super League team has the most Instagram followers?
It’s been an exciting twelve months for Rugby League in England with the national team reaching the final of the Rugby League World Cup in December and the Super League season as always providing thrilling entertainment. The Super League is the UK’s top Rugby League competition, and since being founded in 1996 has been the pinnacle of the sport in the northern hemisphere. The league attracts huge support with the overall matchday attendance for the 2016-17 season exceeding 1.1 million.
This avid fan base are constantly interested in team news both on and off the pitch and thus the birth of social media has been vitally important for the Super League clubs as a method of creating more personal relationships with the fans which results in loyalty and for clubs, can also contribute to commercial benefits. This has prompted our analysts to take a look at how Super League clubs are using Instagram, which is both newer than rivals but also others a more visual service when compared with the linguistic nature of a blog sharing site such as Twitter.
When properly realised, Instagram offers Super League clubs certain opportunities that are more difficult to achieve on other platforms.. Primarily, Instagram is a smartphone app, which harnesses the emotive powers of videos and pictures to connect with the user whilst they are on the go or even at the matches themselves. For an Instagram account to work, a team needs to be authentic, consistent and engaging as well as being easily digestible.
Who has the most followers on Instagram?
|Rank||Teams||Followers (June 2018)|
|12||Salford Red Devils||3,400|
Leeds Rhinos are the most successful team in Super League with eight titles and therefore one would expect them to place highly in this table, whilst Catalan Dragons, the newest team in the division sit fifth in the ranking, a much higher position than they are on the Twitter (12th) & Facebook tables (8th). Perhaps most interesting is the lowly position of St Helens, in spite of being a historic Super League club who are also performing very well this season.
What did Leeds do well?
Leeds’ command of Instagram has been excellent over the last 12 months with daily posts ensuring consistency, and consequently relevancy. The posts are also authentic, with the behind the scenes footage allowing fans to see the inner workings of the club such as how the team prepares for games and how they behave off the field. This authentic content allows for the curtain of TV coverage to be removed, and creates an element of transparency. Moreover, posting pre-match content on Instagram allows for the fans in the stadium to see what the players are doing who may only be a few hundred feet away. This creates a cohesive mini-society within the stadium on match. Finally the content is also extremely current and engaging, such as wishing fans a ‘Happy Star Wars Day’ on May 4th or video which filmed a Fornite session that some of the players had taken part in. Fornite is a big part of the cultural zeitgeist at the moment and many of the club’s followers would have been playing the game as well.
As inconsequential as these type of posts may appear they are huge in creating a connection between the fans who are playing the same game at home and the players. Bonus points on the account’s humorous criticism of the players’ ability in the game, as it’s not often competitive professional athletes are bad at a game.
How are Catalans using Instagram to beat the language barrier?
Like Leeds, Catalan Dragons have also successfully used Instagram to their advantage, albeit for a very different purpose and as of June sat higher than league leaders St Helen’s. Whilst the Dragons sit bottom of the Twitter charts this is more than likely due to the language barrier. Twitter is a platform built for quotes or thoughts and therefore this is more difficult to do when your team is based in a foreign country and must cater for the majority of their fans who are French whilst as Instagram is first and foremost an image sharing site. Therefore Catalans have sought to reach foreign fans through the use of their Instagram account which allows them to transcend the language barrier.
Their account expresses many factors about the club, not only what happens on the field but also how their players behave off it and what the club’s ethos is. The club’s content includes Catalan have engaged their fan base through easily understandable posts such as post match dressing room coverage which allows fans a glimpse behind the curtain, whilst posts of the players giving blood brings Catalan’s social agenda into the public sphere as well. Moreover, the great success of Catalan’s Rugby League Armchair team is also a constant fixture on the Instagram page, which celebrates success but also shows that there is more to the club than just the men’s Super League team and creates a more dynamic image for the brand.
It may seem fairly basic, but fans want to support a club that has a personality and a social conscience as it helps them during more troublesome times. A fan’s loyalty stems from more than just the results on a pitch, and all sports teams should work towards Barcelona’s sentiment of being ‘more than a club’. Building a relationship with fans was traditional based on the field whereas now clubs have been gifted the chance to dedicate time to building loyalty and sentiment away from the stadium as well.
So what can rugby clubs do to improve their Instagram followers?
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