Leeds Rhinos have been ranked as the fifth best professional sports club in the country in terms of how the club promotes itself via social media.
In a report produced by the Sport Social Media Index, the Rhinos were ranked fifth in a ‘league table’ of 148 professional football clubs, rugby clubs of both codes and county cricket clubs in England and Scotland.
Only Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Leyton Orient and Manchester United gained higher scores than the Rhinos, who were the best performing rugby club of either code.
Published annually, the table is compiled by measuring the performance of each team based on research from a team of nine people who looked at eight social networks, as well as a panel of four judges who presided over the results.
The table is made up of 148 professional clubs, including all 92 teams in the top four divisions of English football, as well as the Scottish Premier League, cricket’s County Championship, rugby union’s Premiership and Super League.
The data analysis was carried out between 1 August and 30 September; a two-month period designed to give all sports at least one month during which they were involved in competitive action.
Each club was awarded a score out of 100, with marks being given for engagement levels, breadth of social media content and multimedia distribution, amongst other elements.
The Rhinos scored 62.8 out of 100. Only Tottenham Hotspur (69.9), Chelsea (67.6), Leyton Orient (67.0) and Manchester United (65.3) finished ahead of them.
The next highest scoring rugby club was Leicester Tigers (59.7) in 12th position, whilst the next highest scoring Rugby League club was Hull FC (52.9) in 54th position.
London Broncos finished bottom of the Rugby League pile, scoring just 38.8 out of 100 and sitting in 137th position in the overall list. They were closely beaten by Widnes Vikings (39.9) and Hull KR (40.6) who finished in 135th and 134th positions respectively.
The Social Media Index explained why the Rhinos had scored so well.
“Rugby League side Leeds Rhinos finished fifth place in the overall Index, the highest placed non-football team. The Yorkshire club received a very strong data score, good marks for the amount of official channels available to fans, and for the content that was used on each.
“The judges highlighted the excellent use of hashtags across the board, as well as clever use of visual assets such as their Facebook cover picture to advertise upcoming games and player achievements.
“Also noted was the impressive use of fan photos from home games, the constantly changing cover photos, as well as behind-the-scenes access – although not groundbreaking, the panel agreed that it showed a willingness by the club to put time and resources into creating content which can be consumed by fans for free.
“As well as the timeliness of distribution and the responsiveness of moderators, judges were generally impressed with the club’s understanding of social media and how their staff fostered and developed communities.”
The Rhinos PR Manager Phil Daly was delighted with the results of the survey.
“It is a massive honour to be included in the top five sporting clubs in the country for social media,” said Daly.
“It is something that myself and Leanne Flynn in the media team at the Rhinos pride ourselves on and it is nice to have that recognised. We have seen over recent years, given the great sense of community in Rugby League, that social media lends itself particularly well to our game as fans from all clubs chat about issues right across the game and can interact with our players, who we all know are tremendous ambassadors for the game.
“Social media has helped break down barriers and spread the word about our game like never before, when people like Wayne Rooney or Rio Ferdinand are telling millions of people around the globe how excited they are about Super League that can only be a good thing.”
The Rhinos have also become the first Rugby League club in the world to have their Facebook page verified and the first club in either code in the northern hemisphere to get that accolade from Facebook, which is a method of ensuring that Facebook sites are genuine and which allows sites to carry a blue badge as an indication of authenticity. Only six Premiership football clubs have achieved that status for their Facebook sites.
Full Rugby League Sport Social Media Index table:
1. Leeds Rhinos (62.8)
2. Hull FC (52.9)
3. St Helens (51.7)
4. Salford Red Devils (50.9)
5. Castleford Tigers (48.4)
6. Catalan Dragons (47.5)
7. Warrington Wolves (47.1)
8. Bradford Bulls (46.3)
9. Huddersfield Giants (46.2)
10. Wakefield Trinity Wildcats (45.8)
11. Wigan Warriors (45.2)
12. Hull KR (40.6)
13. Widnes Vikings (39.9)
14. London Broncos (38.8)