Sports mediatization

The phenomenon of ‘TikTok’ among football clubs

Teams arouse as new content creators and individual communication channels

Óscar Yeste en el Camp Nou.
Óscar Yeste, community manager Girona FC. Fuente: Óscar Yeste
Lorena Muiños Diéguez Lorena Muiños Diéguez
Igor Ribas Crespo Igor Ribas Crespo

The contemporary media landscape is marked by technological advancements, widespread connectivity and the prevalence of smart devices. Primarily popular among young users, TikTok’s appeal lies in its emotional content, interactive features, and user-friendly interface. Short video consumption is trending upwards, with vertical, creative formats tailored for mobile consumption dominating, but how it is used by football clubs in the Spanish First Division?

The most popular sport of all times captures lots of attention from the media, thus becoming the cornerstone of the journalistic business. This relevance has compelled different teams to maintain a strong presence in communication, managing strategies that enable planning, development, execution, and evaluation of reporting efforts. 

For that reason, many of them have transformed into “entertainment multinational corporations,” willing to increase economic benefits and bolster their  presence online through a shift in their business model. These technologies have led clubs into creating their own media outlets, leading to a reinvention in the way of how we comprehend all the actors present in the discipline. 

It all started with COVID

Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic became a turning point. Teams were forced to strengthen their relationship with fans through digital channels, driving innovation in narrative and the adoption of new platforms like TikTok. Teams from La Liga Santander have increasingly intend to work on their brand through alternative programs.

In the specific case of Cádiz C.F, the initial posts consist of videos taken from the team’s television channel, which are then published in horizontal format, audio and even the original video’s logo on screen, which clearly declares an inappropriate use of the app’s narrative. Furthermore, traditional media often access and take profit of their content. Óscar Yeste, community manager of Girona FC, says that TV, radio, press, etc. are only able to know the stories and actions that happen on the pitch.

Therefore, for a more engaging and atractive information they need to consume the videos and stories posted from the clubs. In the case of Getafe, David Pérez, CM of the team, points out that traditional media is forced to nourish from their content, because probably the news are no longer in the match itself, but on what happens inside the locker room, before or after the game.

Pérez also highlights that the clubs themselves today are creators of their own content and media: “Before, maybe they depended on a regular television or the newspaper coming out the next day, not today but these are the rules of the game“. In consequence, TikTok emerges as a new instrument for teams to create their own institurional channel.

Here you can see the whole interview with Óscar Yeste:

The main character impact

The focus on particular players (legends or new signings) corresponds to another widely used resource to strengthen the club’s brand. The case of Antoine Griezmann, who is the main character of a considerable number of videos on the profiles of both FC Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid, were all accompanied by his own hashtag, #antoinegriezmann. A case that is also easily noticeable with Lionel Messi. On this media, he is shown in different moments as a sports hero.

In this sense, Yeste puts the example of  some of their players: “In an Instagram carousel it’s not the same to put Eric Garcia or Pablo Torre in the first picture, that they come from Barça, thus carrying on more expectation, than Portu or Miguel Gutiérrez“. In the case of Getafe CF it is notable with the figure of Mason Greenwood, a player on loan from Manchester United. His signing has reportedly earn them 2 million followers in 8 months, by  attracting many supporters and impacts on this social network. Pérez adds that “the athlete’s figure also turns them into influencers, they are well-known people who have many followers on their social networks, so they generate a lot of views.” 

There’s still a long way to wander

In a study  made on FC Barcelona and Real Madrid’s presence on Twitter in Arabic, there was noted a lack of personalized, established, and enduring strategic planning. In addition, in an analysis  of Spanish footballers on Instagram, carried on by Segarra Saavedra and Hidalgo Marí, it is stated an absence of professionalized planned management, and that this digital impress is often”improvised”.

Also, the type of content publish it is still a debate even between the different community managers. While, Yeste declares that he prefers to fo go for more local, less funny and more geolocalized posts, Pérez states that TikTok is the perfect platform to publish humoristic content, because the format, the trends and the memes are the perfect way of generating traffic and gain more interactions.

This contoversy appears also among the players. Yeste defends that some of the members of the first team prefer not to appear in the videos or to do some kind of challenges, but Pérez affirms that most of the Getafe members know that the concept of “footballer” has evolved. They understand that nowadays that there’s also another facet of their lifes they need to show to the fans.

“Footballers are aware that their image goes beyond just being a football player. They must fulfill commitments with sponsors, record content for social media, interviews, meet and greets, etc. Therefore, there is no reluctance among the players to record challenges for TikTok. Humor helps you create very powerful content; it lets you create content that is closer with a mischievous tone.”, confirms Pérez.

Agenda setting

The planification of the content is a key part of the strategy of the club as a new communication corporation. In consequence, the structure and organization plays an important role in their agenda.

Girona FC prefer to have a day every month to plan their content, in what is call a “internal media day”. Then they block the schedule of the players one day in order to have them available to record some kind of images or videos. Nonetheless, Getafe CF are more fond of taking advantage of the player’s retention when they already are busy with  an appointment for an interview, photo session, etc.

In words of Pérez: “We need to take profit from the little things that happen during the day: dribblings, if anyone is hit by a ball during the training, anecdotic moments, etc, because what is trendy today, it won’t be tomorrow. Therefore, an internal media day, is not as effective as exploiding the everydays dynamic”.

Here there’s a podcast where you can listen the interview with David Pérez

Lorena Muiños Diéguez

Estudiante de periodismo y ciencias políticas, con especial atracción por el mundo del deporte. Me considero una persona ambiciosa y comprometida, pero siempre con ganas de aprender. Curso un título especializado en data y social media managment. El arte de aprender historias es lo que hace del periodismo un oficio incomparable.

Igor Ribas Crespo

Soy estudiante de periodismo y me considero un gran aficionado del deporte, en concreto del baloncesto. Entre mis aficiones se encuentra la navegación y la fotografía. En un futuro me gustaría trabajar como periodista deportivo o realizar documentales relacionados con la sociedad.