Recently I argued in several places that Twitter was a really good way of gauging clubs support, particularly for the top clubs who may have similar sized stadia – and therefore similar average attendances, but who may have very different levels of national, continental and even global following. At the other end of the scale though, among non-league sides, Twitter is also popular way of engaging with supporters.
As with the Football league clubs I collated the number of Twitter followers and tweets made by all clubs in the Conference Premier, Conference North and Conference South. This was done all in one day, the 26th October. ‘The task was made slightly more complicated by the fact that unlike the league clubs who all have a verified official accounts with Conference clubs this was more the exception. Several clubs were also represented by fan-run, unofficial accounts.
In the Conference Premier the median average number of followers was 8098. The figures for both the Conference North and South were unsurprisingly lower, though interestingly clubs in the Conference North had, on average, a greater number of followers than clubs in the Conference South. Taking the figures gathered for clubs in the Football League over the summer, and combining with the Conference figures for October, it is possible to – if not make a fully robust comparison – at least see where the average for the Conference sits in relation to the other divisions. As can be seen the average declines sharply between the Premier League and Championship, before becoming more gradual.
Looking at the numbers on a club by club basis the top ten is dominated by ex-football league clubs. First place, in the Conference Premier, is occupied by Bristol Rovers whose verified @Official_BRFC account boasts 26,600 followers: This is over seven times greater than bottom club Alfreton Town. Joining them in the bottom five are four clubs who have recently achieved promotion from the Conference South.
Looking next at the Conference North there comes a surprise – Hyde FC’s official accounts @hydefclive 43,800 followers. Repeated checks have ensured that this is not a typo or other error. This actually puts Hyde’s number of followers on par with many Championship clubs, and above most League One clubs. As the graph shows however, this is a total outlier. 2nd place club – and former Football League members – Stockport County only manage 10,300 by comparison.
There is no such outlier in the Conference South. Lead club Sutton @suttonunited manage 6,165 followers. This would put them in 8th place in the Conference North. The Conference South also seemed to feature many more fan run accounts with Havant & Waterlooville, Maidenhead United, Whitehawk, bishops Stortford and Wealdstone all being fan operated.
the differences between the Conference North and South would seem to be reflected in terms of attendances – the current average attendance, according to thelinnets.co.uk, stands at 631 and 482 respectively.
Looking at tweets made it is a Conference South club which leads the field. the fan-run @Wealdstone_FC account has, since starting in November 2009, made 40, 700 tweets to what currently stands as 3,916 followers. In second place is former league outfit and 2012/13 FA Trophy winners Wrexham AFC who’s official @Wrexham_AFC account has issued 26,100 tweets since its setting up in July 2009.