Facebook’s decision to discontinue paying football clubs for live streams has inevitably led to a backlash of clubs becoming disinterested in the social media site.
A plethora of teams that previously enjoyed heavy involvement in Facebook, including Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United, are now seemingly contemplating investments in alternative outlets such as Instagram and YouTube.
The decision to cease paying clubs to produce live content was a result of considerable low engagement from supporters on the site. Last season, a live streamed Barcelona press conference managed to pull in just over 500,000 views, a minuscule amount compared to the 100 million or so Facebook fans of the club.
The proven profitability of mid roll advertisements has led to Facebook shifting its priority away from live streams and more towards the purchasing of long form content, an area in which Facebook have expressed a specific interest is with regards to documentaries about fan culture.
Although in the short term the attempts of Facebook to profit from this genre of video will serve to wane the site’s relationship with football clubs, in the long term, the possibility of an exodus of club’s interest from Facebook may prove premature.
Monetary gain may not be decisive factor in luring the world’s biggest clubs back onto the site, even if this means they’re forced to adjust the content they provide.
Speaking to SBC, Sebastian Jansson, Paid Social Media Manager of LeoVegas said: “I am not entirely sure that the Football clubs will move away from Facebook, as their real currency in this situation are all the fans out there.
“Those fans will stay on Facebook until another platform emerges that will take their attention, and when that happens all the football clubs will probably start shifting their distribution accordingly.
“One of the main reasons why football is such a huge sport, is because of the massive fan-base that it has amassed all over the world. Currently Facebook is the platform that has the vastest global usage, thus, being one of few places where they can reach and interact with their fans.
“Due to that, I am certain that we will see a continuous relationship between football clubs and Facebook, and that will only change when the fans no longer use the platform.”
Furthermore, bookmakers may be incentivised in the same way that football clubs are to adapt the content that is provided in order to retain engagement with Facebook.
Jansson added: “It is still the social media platform where most people are active. Therefore, it will be of substantial importance as it is where a bookmaker at scale can reach the right audience, the quest is for the bookmakers to have material that is worthy of audience’s attention.
“Everyone is getting better and better with their creatives and how they engage with people, so bookmakers need to follow suit and develop as well.
“Any bookmakers’ aim is to have that Facebook page/group where people come to discuss football – if they manage to pull that, then probably they will do better than others. Exactly how that will be done is hard to say, but in my eyes it comes down to how good they can engage with fans through their content and accompanying creatives.”