How to do sports star social media – by “punched in the head for a living” UFC fighter Johny Hendricks at SXSW 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 13.30.04SXSW 2014 – As part of the SXsports track this year, Richard ran a session “Social on the Field: Sports stars and Social Goals”. After a 15 min intro presentation, citing key examples from world sports of athletes and their use of twitter (shared here later), he interviewed UFC fighter Johny “Big Rigg” Hendricks to get an insight into what it’s really like to fight online as well as in the octagon.

My session in the newly christened SXSports part of the Interactive conference was to focus on the impact of social media on an athlete’s performance. I could have talked to a Premier League footballer, or a Premiership Rugby player, or any one of the other exciting sports that we are lucky enough to work with. But, in another moment of christening, it seemed perfect timing to announce our new partnership with UFC EMEA by bringing Johny Hendricks onto the platform with me.

photo 4

You could not get two more different men sharing a stage. Texan and Londoner, fighter and geek, t-shirt and tweed. Oh, and his driver will go 315yds where I usually drive 290… greater hand and club-head speed, you see. And, more relevantly, I run social media channels for a living – part of the broad Seven League skill set – and he runs it for himself. Only golf and Johny’s motto of “Go Beard or Go Home” seemed to unite our worlds.

My hypothesis is that social media is a personal communication channel that, with the right thinking and the right message, can be a powerful part of a sports team or sports star’s armoury. Johny doesn’t talk about it that way – he just does it.

Some facts: Johny is a welterweight title contender in UFC. He has short “t-rex” arms, but packs a punch. He has a wife and three daughters, and two german shepherds. He likes golf. He is extremely disciplined in everything he does and, in the context of all the other athletes I’ve worked around, has one of the highest levels of discipline and one of the most exacting training regimes. He has a love of his job, a respect for the fans, and a philosophical approach to life – several times during our session he referenced his fathers advice to “be like a duck and let abuse be like water of your back”


It was this philosophical and attitudinal approach that came out strongest for me in the session. Johny is well balanced – he can brush off rude or abusive tweets, saying “they don’t know me” – even if his wife finds it more difficult to do so. When he gets compliments, he loves it, but the criticism doesn’t have an impact – and there’s no way that social media impacts his performance in training or in the octagon.


Does he do it all himself? Mostly – his wife occasionally tweets because, when you have 140,000 followers, there’s a lot of replying to do. Too much, in fact, so he just replies to what he can. He puts time aside in his disciplined schedule and will do 30 mins of tweeting while recovering from a training session but before family time.


He has a verified twitter account – but not analytics – and he manages the account through the twitter iPhone app.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 13.46.41Content: 

His editorial policy is “humanising and humorous”  though those are my words, not his. He likes to talk about things that are in real life – things that aren’t about fighting. He never talks about an upcoming fight. He’ll skim over comments on training – particularly because if you say it was a ‘good session’ then you can get a load of stick of people asking “why only good… why not great?!”. So his tweets are as likely to show off his new slippers or a comedy t-shirt at Disneyland as they are to be talking about UFC. He’s quite happy to see other fighters commenting on their condition before a fight because it might just give him the edge in understanding his opponent – but he’d never do that himself. As for ‘trash talk’ he doesn’t go in for it – but some do.

photo 1

We covered the UFC policy a bit, but as Johny said “I’m someone who gets punched in the head for a living, so that’s all above my pay grade”. But the suggestion that UFC might artificially hype a contest or acrimony between fighters didn’t ring true – it seemed much more like the general atmosphere of being open and accessible to fans – and that fighters can make their own minds up how to behave – means that there is plenty of genuine tumult going on – no need for hype, just sensible social media management in
reaction to what gets said.


Johny has a list of sponsors and regular social media contractual requirements – but always aims to over-service them. Some clients are prescriptive, about what words or links to use, where others may request he forms a message in his own words.


This is the philosophical trait coming to the fore again – he thrives on the fan support, but stays focused on his goals – and when people start causing trouble, he doesn’t rise to the bait. If only all sports stars showed such restraint.

So , what did I learn about how to do social media when you’re a sports star?

- Humanise

- Humour

- Humility

and a Healthy psychological approach are the keys to success.

But then I’m never going to make it as a sports star anyway.

NBA Global Games in the UK: Showtime in London’s O2

IMG_8403The NBA put on a show in London’s O2 arena last night – I was lucky enough to be there – and what a cultural experience it was.

“It’s like this in the States? Why the f**k am I watching football?!”

- that was the quote from the 20-something behind me when we got to the NBA traditional Dance Cam. The camera had picked out a member of the audience to dance-off against the Hawks’ mascot and if you’re a fan of some classic body-popping with a cross-section of Michael Jackson moves, then it was quite a display.

“He must be a plant,” said a cynical voice behind me “he’s just too good to be a normal person.”.

IMG_8413IMG_8416In front of me, two British 30 somethings with a love of the game – not the Hawks or the Nets particularly, but glad to be there. And beside me a lawyer and his wife – never been to a basketball game and “…well, I probably wouldn’t go again. I don’t get the constant need for some kind of gratification, for some kind of showbiz. I’m a big fan of baseball and I love the stats in sport, but this just doesn’t do it for me. Nice to be here though.”

So, a cross-section of views – hardly a scientific poll. But the words from one seasoned NBA-watcher summed up this particular game:

“It is almost a shame they play basketball in between breaks!”.

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 18.28.00I’ve never been to an NBA game and I know there must be a lot more technique, skill, strategy in those fleeting moments of athleticism… but it moves fast and I know nothing… so I’m left enjoying the show, but not really feeling the game. A shame. Next time I must go with someone who can talk me through the detail – or maybe it’s the perfect opportunity for a mobile-device datatainment product to engage beginner-fans.

IMG_8407The business side, on the other hand… that’s a different story. Fan engagement, sports marketing, brand placement… it’s all there. Whether it be the SAP numbers quiz or the adidas skills challenge, or any of the other structured moments – Kiss Cam, Dance Cam, or acrobatic dunking… all good entertainment.

Congratulations NBA UK team for putting on a “helluva” show. I look forward to next time when I will learn to appreciate the sport – not just the impressive sports business.

Here’s the bad news: Spurs’ digital handling of Andre Villas Boas sacking

It’s relatively easy to do good work when the team is winning on the pitch – but people who run clubs’ digital services often debate how to handle the darker times. Go quiet? Focus on the history? Recognition and realism? There are many options, but to get a fresh perspective we asked Daniel Ayers – Seven League’s latest recruit, formerly Sony Music digital director and Spurs fan – for his assessment. RA. 

It is generally agreed that fan engagement, and a 2-way conversation with your audience, are A Good Thing. However, things get uncomfortable when you have to deliver bad news.

60083Spurs – who generally do a good job of bringing fans closer to the club via social media, especially with creative content on YouTube and Instagram - have had a rotten couple of days. On Sunday Dec 15th there was a 0-5 home defeat to Liverpool, a team they’ve often beaten or finished higher than in recent seasons. This was followed today (Monday 16th) by the sacking of the club’s manager, Andre Villas Boas.

Recent thrashings notwithstanding, AVB was generally well-liked by Spurs fans*: he achieved the a record Premier League points total for the club in the 2012-13 season and leaves with the highest win percentage of any Tottenham manager since 1899. And even for the #AVBOUT brigade, the news is humiliating. For now, at least, Spurs are the butt of everyone else’s jokes.

So: today was a big news day, and sensitive times for the fans. How did the club editorialise this across their channels?

Twitter (721k followers)
This is the club’s most active channel in terms of post volume, and we had 15 tweets today. But only 4 related to the managerial change, with 8 devoted to the Europa League draw, 1 linking to a regular Monday feature (‘Loan Watch’), 1 reflecting indirectly on the defeat to Liverpool and 1 on the all-important order deadline for Christmas delivery from the online store.

The Europa League draw against Ukrainian side FC Dnipro is undoubtedly news which merits coverage. Probably not in such detail though; including a tweet about the last time Spurs faced Ukrainian opposition felt a lot like padding.

Add in the ‘business as usual’ stories and there’s a definite sense of bad news being buried. Surely it would be sensible, in a period where fans are realistically only interested in one story, to acknowledge that by dropping anything non-essential?

There’s certainly no doubt which tweets had the largest reaction. At time of writing the 4 mgmt change tweets had garnered 15,348 retweets, compared to 833 for the other 11; an average response ratio of 50:1[a]

Facebook (3.1m followers)
The post volume on Facebook was lower (no 140 character restrictions, of course), but followed similar lines. Two items on the management change, and 1 each for the Europa League draw and Christmas delivery.

THFC Facebook post

Fans are fully aware of the usual content schedule after games…

So, there’s a more appropriate balance in terms of post topics. And, of course, the AVB posts will bring debate in the comments. That’s not a huge CRM issue; venting feelings in an appropriate forum is cathartic, and the range of views does include those who agree with the decision, and continue to pledge support to the club.

The top comments on other posts reflect a sharp awareness of the club’s tendencies for glossing over bad news, though. Regular features like Man Of The Match votes can be cringeable after poor performances (sensibly the club declined to meet the dare shown above, and skipped it this time), and commercial messaging is clearly going to be derided in this kind of situation.

THFC Facebook

Commercial messaging alongside news about the managerial changes was met with some derision.


THFC website

Latest news stories wisely prioritised the day’s main event.

The official site takes a more formal approach.Though there is a mix of topics in the latest news, the lead item relates to the management changes, as it should do.
Site news stories are never open for comments, so there is no risk of dissent here.

Sadly the club’s email newsletters are often laughably out of touch with the fans’ news agenda, and today’s was no exception. With turmoil abounding, fans were no doubt relieved to discover there’s still time to “Give the gift of FIFA 14″ this Christmas.

Now, presumably this email was a contractual obligation to EA Sports, but you’d imagine even they would rather put a little clear water between the sacking announcement and their promotion.

THFC newsletter

THFC email newsletters can often be out of step with the fans’ news agenda.

Really, there’s no easy way to deal with these communications; they suck for everyone concerned. At least Spurs were the first to officially break the news; if nothing else, they’ve reinforced their owned channels as the primary source for verified information.

The club also clearly have a strong hold on social media postings by players. Plenty of the first team squad are active on Twitter, but the usually loquacious Lewis Holtby, Kyle Walker, Andros Townsend et al were noticeable in their absence of comment. The only possible rebel was loaned-out fullback Benoit Assou-Ekotto, whose tweet about having “a good Monday” could be construed as a dig at the manager who shipped him out. Even Emmanuel Adebayor — apparently poorly regarded by AVB — was at pains to distance himself from accusations of mocking the 0-5 defeat.

Response from players across the league was muted, with only the self-appointed commentariat duo of Joey Barton and Rio Ferdinand weighing in. It’s a small industry of course; never a great idea to burn bridges publicly.

However, the own-goals – obvious attempts to drive negatives down the feed, and commercial messaging no fan is in the mood for – could easily have been avoided, either removed from the schedule entirely, or just postponed until happier times.

My personal exposure to social media comms crisis management comes primarily from the music industry, where the policy tended to be to say as little as possible on any negative story or outcome. Poorly received releases, or disappointing campaign responses, were generally never mentioned again.
When 2012 X Factor winner James Arthur recently had a rap – and Twitter – battle with Micky Worthless, he caused a storm around the homophobic language he apparently used (Arthur somewhat weakly claims his use of the term “fucking queer” was “not meant as a reference to homosexuality”), and ended up having to cede control of his Twitter account to his management company, who now run it on his behalf. There was no mention of the story, or his apology, on any other official channel: why give it any more oxygen?

For sports clubs, though, ignoring the issue is not an option. Whilst most music fans follow the artist for a short period of time, most football fans follow the club for life. Record companies rarely suffer lasting damage from the actions of their artists, because no-one really cares about the label brand anyway. In football though, the club is the brand; they can only protect it by tackling bad news head-on.

*Disclosure: I am one of those fans.
[a] Ratio calculated by taking average RT rate for manager change tweets (15348/4 = 3837), and comparing to average RT rate for other tweets (833/11 = 76). 3837:76 = 50:1.

The making of the BBC #SPOTY Vine

BBC SPOTY Vine This Sunday, all eyes will be on Leeds as BBC Sports Personality of the Year visits the city for the 60th edition of the show.

#SPOTY is one of the biggest events in the British sporting calendar, so needless to say when BBC Sport approached Seven League a few weeks ago about a social media opportunity around the shortlist announcement we jumped at the chance to get involved.

The challenge was to produce BBC SPOTY‘s first ever Vine video to coincide with the announcement of this year’s 10 nominees on the One Show on 26 November.

We developed some creative concepts and settled on using the concept of time, with the idea of sharing Sports Personality triumphs from the past 59 years by creating a book of memories. 60 years in 6 seconds. That’s a challenge.

The SL team as SPOTY

On each page would be an iconic image of each #SPOTY winner with their name and the year they won handwritten underneath, finishing with headshots of this year’s 10 nominees and the #SPOTY hashtag.

The nature of the project meant that we had to be very hush-hush about it. The nominations for Sports Personality of the Year are a closely-guarded secret, and until we signed a confidentiality agreement just days before the announcement we had no idea who they were — which led to some interesting sketches in our planning stages!

We looked at plenty of ways of filming, but the final Vine was created and filmed by one member of the team, at home in the kitchen with a Samsung Galaxy SII blue-tacked to a “workbench”, which was actually a coffee table propped up with a couple of G-clamps.

Antonia working on the Vine

It was hardly a glamorous work space, but it created the perfect birds-eye view to look down on the book as the 59 previous winners flashed past. It also worked perfectly for Vine’s more informal feel – content with a personal, hand-crafted style works really well on social because it’s fun – and more polished graphics can potentially be seen by fans as advertising.

The key to this whole project, though, was the quick sign-off. That’s where the close relationship comes in handy. A technical error meant the Vine was deleted seconds after it was originally posted and the clip now in circulation was filmed, approved and put live within minutes of the announcement being made on BBC One.

Then we waited for the reaction… and thankfully it was really well received, with the initial Tweet shared over 150 times and over 400 times in total across Twitter, Facebook and Vine.

A great thing for us was that we got a chance to flex our content-producing muscles. The whole Seven League team have content backgrounds – and it’s core to our company vision – but we spend so much time doing analysis, building strategy, working on commercial growth that it’s easy to forget we’re content experts at heart.

Not seen it yet? Check out BBC SPOTY‘s and @7League‘s first Vine below.

“Arsenal FC, I presume?” – A traveller’s view on African football fandom

Lead Consultant Neal McCleave on the growth of football in Africa following a recent visit to Tanzania…

I have been regularly travelling to Africa over the past five years and have watched with interest the rise and rise of football across the continent. It is clear English Premier League clubs are winning the hearts and minds of new disciples.

McCleave blog pic

On my first visit to Mozambique in 2008, football was evident but not all consuming. On my next trip to Malawi, I started to see makeshift goals and people wearing threadbare replica shirts. On to Zambia in 2012, and every taxi driver seemed to have a club allegiance with decals on windscreens and an immediate question of what team you support (by the way, Zambia is Chelsea country).

So in September this year I went to Tanzania where football truly is the new religion. Every village has a decent looking football pitch, with some of them better than Grimsby’s Blundell Park. Around 15% of the male population wear replica shirts and many of those are kit from the current season. Games are shown live on cathode ray tube TVs in most corner cafes and a whole range of commercial enterprises are adorned with club crests.

Several things are significant about the mobile phone kiosk pictured – firstly, where it is. The picture was taken by the shore of Lake Tanganyika at a place called Ujiji. The border of Burundi is about 20 miles north and The Congo is 30 miles away across the lake, so not the most accessible location.

This is further illustrated by the fact that only half a mile from this spot in November of 1871, Henry Morton Stanley met Dr. David Livingstone and uttered the immortal words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

This picture was taken around two weeks after the signing of Mesut Özil by Arsenal, with his name already written up on the kiosk as the new messiah.

An unscientific ranking of clubs by popularity in Tanzania;

1) Arsenal
2) Chelsea
3) Liverpool
4) Manchester United

Interestingly I did not see one Manchester City or Spurs shirt, and from other leagues only Barcelona and Bayern Munich were evident.

Africa has long been governed by country border, tribal allegiances, and religious affiliation and now football has seemingly being added to this mix.

Notes: Africa makes up 7% of the total world internet population. There were an estimated 167 million internet users in Africa at the end of June 2012 – 15.6% of the total population. Facebook subscribers in the continent reached 51.6 million in December 2012.


Africa Internet Population Statistics 2012


Additional reading:

African Premier League fans in their favourite English football shirts - October 2013

Africa ‘leapfrogs’ to wider internet access – September 2013

English clubs battle for Africa fanbase – July 2012

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Minnesota Vikings at Wembley Stadium

Consulting Partner Peter Clare went to Wembley this weekend to watch two American sporting greats…

Kick-off was at 6pm, we met at 9.30am

It was my first NFL game — the Minnesota Vikings vs the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium. My friend from Pittsburgh texted me the day before asking if we should meet at 9.30am. I couldn’t work it out; Wembley is a one-hour journey.

I’d never even watched a full NFL game on TV. I’ve watched a few Grid Iron films, seen some clips on YouTube and can just remember Channel 4’s attempt to hype up the sport in the 80s. But this didn’t prepare me for the day ahead.

NFLWe arrived at Wembley hours before kick-off, and we weren’t the only ones. Thousands of fans lined Wembley Way, and that was even before we got to the fan parks. There must have been six merchandise stores, one as big as a decent sized Tesco, all with queues a hundred deep. There were giant inflatable NFL players, giant inflatable footballs, in fact there were giant inflatable every-things.

Big screen showing the US coverage, loads of bars and people signing you up to receive a free trail of the NFL’s game pass (live streaming and highlights of all NFL games), large men throwing American footballs through holes and, of course, more hot dog and burger stands than you could shake a corn dog stick at. None of this happens on FA Cup final day.

In the stadium the hype continued. Tinie Tempah, national anthems (England’s and The Star-Spangled Banner), marching bands and lot and lots of cheer leaders. A ball was still to be thrown.

NFL cheerleadersOne down side was the lack of phone signal, outside or inside the stadium. I couldn’t follow the pre-match build up, tweet, post, find out when the best time to go into the stadium, share my excitement, I couldn’t even send text messages. It felt going back in time.

I have to admit, it was great fun. Everyone was in a good mood and rival fans even talk to each other. The NFL know sport, but they also know sport can be a full day of entertainment.

Maybe 9 hours at a sporting event is too long, but at £65 a ticket (I paid over £100 for an FA Cup final ticket recently) it gave me an awesome introduction to a sport I will pay more attention to in the future.

NFL Wembley

Seven League at Social Media Week London – Sport, Social, ROI

Social Media Week starts in a few days, and there’s a week to go until we are joined by some of the leading names in the industry for a panel on Sport, Social and return on investment.

ECB Ashes RISE social match day stadium external Anderson (2)

We’re delighted to announce that…

- Richard Clarke, Managing Editor of Arsenal @MrRichardClarke
- Abigail Sawyer, Group Digital Manager for the Jockey Club @ajesawyer, and
- Xavier Bidault, Senior Digital Manager from the NBA

will be joining Richard on Wednesday 25th September for Sport and Social: Incredible Loyalty, Incredible ROI.

We will also be unveiling some exclusive research carried out by Seven League over the 2013 summer of sport.

We would love to hear any questions you have for the panellists, and you can get in touch with us ahead of the event on Twitter @7league by using #smwsport.

MCFC 2012 Together social match day (2)

The event is taking place at the Business & Entrepreneurship Hub, Bloomberg, City Gate House, 39-45 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1PQ on Wednesday 25th September, from 3pm – 5pm. Near Liverpool Street, Moorgate and Old Street stations.

Get the full details on the Social Media Week site here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Dos A Cero: A British geek’s perspective on the USA v Mexico WC qualifier

Sometimes the simplest chants have the greatest effect. Winning USMNT applaud the crowd

Dos a cero, dos a cero, .. repeat ad infinitem… it’s not lyrical or witty, but when the USA have beaten their neighbours 2 – 0 at home in the Columbus Crew stadium in Columbus Oho for the last three encounters … then it starts to become pretty powerful.

This time the USA did it again, unbelievably, 2 – 0 for the 4th time - same score, same stadium, same opposition. Remarkable. And so was the atmosphere.

Unlike most British football stadia, the Crew home is in the middle of state land and is surrounded by massive car-parks. Put this together with the American tradition of tailgating and there was a carnival atmosphere for hours beforehand. Think of Twickenham’s west car park but ten times the size, a lot more bbq and without the barbours. Flags, horns, shirts and and nearly all brandishing scarves, given out by the organisers on entry, everywhere. Fans are happy even before the kick-off.


Inside the stadium the crowd was dominated by the USA fans which was up on the last couple of occasions where there had been a stronger presence of Mexico supporters. A key point here is that they’re Mexico supporters, not necessarily Mexicans. There are some fascinating social and sporting dynamics around US citizens who support Mexico on the basis of their Mexican heritage – and the same goes for other latino audience segments. All of which leads to some interesting challenges for the MLS league and teams when addressing a football fanbase with mixed loyalties – and a resonance for the Britons of the Tebbit “cricket test” issues.

When 90% of the 20,000 capacity stadium are scarf-waving Americans, you can imagine what the rendition of the national anthem was like. ‘Rousing’ or ‘Empassioned’ would be a good start on a long list of adjectives.

Columbus Crew Stadium jumbotron

Sponsors were happy too – lots of fans in and around the stadium for a long while beforehand, with lots of fan engagement opportunities. I counted 3 planes dragging messages (one with a hashtag) and two blimps circling overhead – one of which had a massive LED screen on the underside.

Getting a phone signal wasn’t impossible. The Crew stadium isn’t as much of a faraday cage as most British grounds. I didn’t pick up wifi, but there was a lot of instagramming, selfies, tweeting and posting from people around me.

And then there was the game. Mexico have had all sorts of internal trouble, but the USA was without key players through injury and suspension. The rise of MLS soccer was reaffirmed by the fact that 6 of the 11 men on the field play for clubs in the MLS – and even better that the two goal scorers were both MLS natives. Highlights here.

The organisers put on a fantastic day – another example of great event experience at football games across the pond.

Social media and transfer deadline day: a welcome for Premier League new signings

With the 2013/14 summer transfer window now firmly closed, Premier League clubs and new signings alike have seen substantial growth in social media followers in just a matter of hours.

While different players may have different levels of appeal to their club’s digital audience, a handful in particular have received a solid digital welcome from their new clubs, colleagues and fans alike. Following Twitter UK’s blog highlighting most talked-about players, understandably those with the highest price tag generated the most conversation and coverage on the day.

One in particular was German international Mesut Ozil, whose switch to Arsenal was confirmed just after 10pm on Monday 2nd September. The attacking midfielder gained an impressive 192,900 new followers in 24 hours from midday on transfer deadline day – an increase of 6.5%. Lukas-Podolski-and-Mesut-Ozil As rumours of Ozil’s switch gained momentum to the day the deal was complete, the player received over 257,000 new followers in the space of a week – an increase of 8.89% and took his total to over 3.1 million.

As I write, this figure now stands at well over 3,235,000. The online audience were not the only ones to express their delight at the player’s move – a nice touch saw new team mate Lukas Podolski take to Instagram to share a snap with the new recruit that generated huge engagement online – an image the new signing then chose to share on his own Facebook page.

The club’s adoption of #OzilisaGunner shortly after the deal was confirmed saw the hashtag trend well into Tuesday, by this point, the player had taken to Twitter to thank his former club and his fans for helping him pass the 11 million mark on Facebook. A simple emoticon of a ‘thumbs up’, shared by 24-year-old the morning after the night before on Twitter, prompted over 6000 retweets by delighted Arsenal fans.

The more popular and engaging posts however were those concerning sadness surrounding the midfielder’s departure from Real Madrid. Mesut-Ozil-Sergio-Ramos-tweet Whilst the German national team manager Joachim Low has described Real Madrid’s decision to sell Ozil to Arsenal as “incomprehensible”, former team mates Cristiano Ronaldo and Sami Khedira are also said to be sad about the transfer.

But before taking to Twitter to express his thoughts on his move to north London, Ozil posted a picture wishing the best to Sergio Ramos that prompted an impressive 30,000 retweets, followed by an equally as heartfelt note to his former club on his Facebook page – a post which has been liked by just under 300,000 fans.

The Arsenal faithful are undoubtedly hungry for social interaction with their new signings. The club boasted an increase in followers of just fewer than 70,000 in a week, not discounting the contribution of their 1-0 victory over Spurs on Sunday, of course. And they are not the only club.

As one player left the Bernabéu for the Premier League, one star travelled the other way, as the record-breaking transfer for Gareth Bale was secured by Real Madrid. The Welsh international’s social media accounts enjoyed significant growth from his move, gaining 100,000 new followers on Twitter and 74,000 new likes on Facebook in 24 hours. Twitter also confirmed the player was mentioned 8.4 million times – the most about any player.

James McCarthy, whose switch to Everton from Wigan was confirmed in the closing minutes of deadline day, received an additional 6500 new followers in the three hours to midnight on Monday, while former Blue Marouane Fellaini gained over 17,000 new followers on the day his move to the red side of Manchester was confirmed.

It wasn’t all happening on the final day of the window though.

Etoo Samuel Eto’o’s arrival at Chelsea was welcomed with open arms almost immediately by fans. His switch was confirmed on Thursday, and he received 22,000 new Twitter followers in the space of a week surrounding his move – with 12,000 of those signing-up on the day of the deal. With an increase in followers of over 83% in a week, these numbers were helped by the player’s instant retweet of the club’s announcement that the deal was done, complimented by a swift update to his Twitter bio and picture and a link to his first interview with the club.

Clearly players attract audiences and with their movements, so will the fans follow – but it seems that there are going to be some fascinating dynamics in the next few years as players’ social media value is weighed up against that of their old and new clubs.

Media: TechRadar on data and the Premier League

TechRadar‘s Chris Smith put together a nice detailed piece recently on “How stats have changed football forever” and “Who will win the Premier League? Stats explain all” in which a good clutch of the top thinkers in data and football (and me) laid out the exciting prospect of data this season.

copyright: TechRadar

copyright: TechRadar

Blake Wooster of the 21st Club, Simon Farrant and Simon Banoub of Opta, Simon Miller of our clients Bloomberg Sports Football (was there a Simon quota for this piece?) and Sanjit Atwal of Squawka all making the most of a chance to talk data, context and datatainment.

Richard Ayers, former head of digital at Manchester City and CEO of the Seven League digital media firm believes in ‘datatainment’ – taking cold hard stats and creating entertainment opportunities through apps and games in order to increase engagement.

“Football is such a globally popular game that I think a lot of people involved in it don’t see why or how it can be enhanced by the use of data,” he told us. “There is a degree of tribalism here. Data is for ‘statos,’ the thinking goes. Other sports use data as a key to unlock the mysteries of their game…..