Social media platform TikTok is quickly becoming a primary service for reaching young football fans across the world.
TikTok is used to create a variety of short video clips, with millions of users engaging with content every day.
The company continues to grow at a rapid pace, with over 800 million app downloads in 2020, beating rivals such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in the process.
Football leagues and clubs all over the world have utilised the platform to build their global brands.
Spain’s La Liga has reached 1.9 million followers in a year and a half of activity, with the demographic of this audience notably young.
“Our followers are young people (mostly part of Generation Z) from all over the world, people who want to discover content that they will not find anywhere else,” Alfredo Bermejo, director of digital strategy at La Liga, told the La Liga Newsletter.
“Everything we post is specially designed for this audience with the aim of entertaining them and creating engagement. We want them to know that following La Liga on TikTok is to consume content from the best league in the world.”
Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are the two most followed clubs on TikTok and have increased the profile of football on the service, but creating campaigns that global audiences have engaged with has been just as effective.
“We have created two of the biggest and most successful (social media) challenges in the history of TikTok,” Bermejo explained.
“Every week there are new trends that we pay attention to in order to remain an active part of the community.”
A recent initiative encouraged followers of the La Liga TikTok account to replicate the different goal celebrations of players in the competition.
Videos were posted with the hashtag #ViveLaLiga, with Bermejo revealing the campaign earned over 63 million views and trended in 21 countries.
These types of figures offered an added value for La Liga’s global partners, including Puma and Santander.
Soraya Castellanos Hidalgo, partnerships manager of TikTok in Spain, believes initiatives like this showcase where the social media platform thrives.
“Our mission is to inspire and offer our community a space for creative expression and a fun and positive experience with an enormous diversity of content,” she said.
Other La Liga content on their TikTok account is made attractive by a strong use of music, alongside an informal tone for the most part.
Bermejo explained that for the emerging young audience, all the content related to the league’s clubs, from training sessions to the way the players are dressed, is vital to make an impression.
“TikTok has allowed us to get closer to Generation Z and thus understand the tastes and preferences that these fans have today,” he stated.
“This also helps us to analyse what the fan of the future will be like.”
A new fan’s first contact with football “is likely not a 90-minute televised match, but a video with highlights and music on TikTok, or with images of player challenges during training,” Bermejo claimed.
Sevilla FC has used TikTok since June of 2019 and now has over 275,000 followers on the social media site.
The club emphasised that posts on this social network feel genuine and is a major reason why the platform is the global service of choice for a younger demographic.
“The change we’ve noticed is the way that the content published is natural, much more real and less edited, plus it is generated directly on the mobile phone,” explained the club’s social media manager, José Ángel Risco.
“Consumption is a lot quicker as the users want to see something that lasts 15 to 20 seconds maximum,” he added.
“It’s becoming a social network that also feeds other platforms such as Twitter or YouTube, especially with videos that go viral. There are differences in the tone that we don’t have on channels such as Twitter or Facebook.
“Those who follow us on TikTok are a lot younger. We’re trying to connect with users who are interested in sport and in football through a tone that isn’t as focussed on the up-to-the-minute sports news.”
TikTok continues to build on its momentum as a social media phenomenon for young people, with football fans no exception.