Kariobangi Sharks may not be amongst the top ranked teams in Africa according to CAF interclub rankings but according to Result Sports, K-Sharks as they are fondly reffered to in Kenya is amongst the top 100 sides with most followers in the digital and social media spaces.
Founded in the slums of Kariobangi, east side of Nairobi City County, in the year 2000 the side has risen through the ranks to claim to their fair share of the local Kenyan football sphere gaining promotion to top tier league in 2016 and now rising through the ranks of African football albeit digitaly.
In the latest ranking based on digital followers K-Sharks ranks 60th with 145k followers across the different digital networks online, North African hold the top three positions with Al Alhy leading the pack with 33M followers, Zamalek SC sits in the 2nd spot with 13M followers as Morocco’s Raja Casablanca takes the 3rd spot with 7M followers.
The only East African side in the top 10 is Tanzanian side Simba at 6th position with 4M followers, the numbers being a testament of brand visibility can help you achieve, South African sides Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates close the top five clubs with most following in Africa with 6M and 4M followers respectively.
Kenya’s footballing powerhouse Gor Mahia was is the most followed club in Kenya and 45th in Africa with 250k followers in commensurate with their status as champions in and off the field, their arch rivals AFC Leopards a side that is living through their past glory days comes second in Kenya and 50th in Africa with 213k followers.
Having a high digital following can help clubs and federations achieve a higher commercial value as in the case of Tanzania, the growth of their football has been driven digitally, with the Tanzanian Football Federation and Azam Media signing a mega-deal worth USD 100M across 10years, the deal will see all clubs participating in the TPL receive participation fees at the end of every season.
According to KPMG, ”the developments in social media technology are now also allowing more communication and better-targeted engagement between football fans and clubs than ever before. Enhanced user algorithms are ensuring that fans are fed with the most relevant, authentic and interesting content to keep them engaged more frequently and for longer, along with automated targeted marketing capabilities, allowing clubs and sponsors alike to effectively capitalize on the extensive and fast-growing global football club following.
KPMG adds thas large social media followings add more meaningful value proposition for sponsors and commercial partners, as the case with European side and some African sides with a huge online following,
”Corporates are also targeting social media in a bid to gain a more directed audience with their precious consumers and football has long been seen as an attractive opportunity to broaden brand exposure and equity amongst a large group of highly engaged fans. But unprecedented levels of club following, targeted fan engagement and conversation make the club a much more meaningful value proposition for sponsors and commercial partners.”
However clubs with large following can also be manipulated by brands through giving them dubious deals, such deals normally come covered in honey (longer years) which can tie a club to a particular sponsor with clubs suffering huge consequences incase they want out.
A case relation was in Kenya when the federation signed what clubs termed as an unfair deal with production company startimes, Gor Mahia, Ulinzi Stars, Mathare United and the now relegated Zoo Kericho took some time to assent their signatures to the deal after realizing that they shall have to relinquish their media rights for home games.
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