Manchester United has the most "active fans" on Facebook, according to a survey by social media consultancy Fangager that shows little correlation between a sports franchise's popularity and the level of engagement fans have with it on the friending website. That suggests that some teams are underutilizing this free media resource.
Even though Man. Utd. has 11.5 million Facebook fans, only 176,199 -- or 1.5 percent -- are "active fans," according to Fangager. Fangager looks at "likes," comments and other activity on a team's Facebook pages and the fan pages associated with that team.
No. 2 team Chelsea F.C. has 4.8 million fans but 2.9 percent of them (or 141,716,) are active fans. That implies Chelsea's fans are more enthusiastic than Manchester's, at least online. Rounding out the top six teams are, predictably, Liverpool F.C., Arsenal, F.C. Barcelona and A.C. Milan:
The New York Yankees came seventh, and was the top non-soccer team in the list, with 3.5 million fans, 2.5 percent of which are active. The Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be a picture of how not to do it: less than 15,000 of them are engaged with the team on Facebook.
The three teams with the most fans globally are probably Man. Utd., Barcelona and Real Madrid, yet the Spanish teams fall far behind their rivals on Facebook in terms of engagement, according to Fangager.
Similarly, Bayern Munich is one of the richest teams in football but has a comparatively pitiful Facebook presence, just 1.2 million fans, the survey says.
Missing from the list is Istanbul's Galatasary SK, which topped a BNET list ranking Facebook fans in 2010. The club's infamously rabid followers -- they set fire to their own stadium in order to intimidate visiting teams -- form a 5.2 million Facebook fanbase. The reason, a Fangager spokesperson said, is that Galatasary's official page does not allow comments and thus has no "engagement." GSK fans thus gather mostly at their unofficial fan page, and not the one run by the club.