The Turkish Soccer Twitter Phenomenon
For anyone familiar with the intersection of Soccer and Social Media, the art of the “transfer announcement” has become an increasingly integral component of how clubs virally promote new player signings and earn digital media cut through. From the iconic Manchester United and Alexis Sanchez Piano trailer to Dortmund’s Erling Haaland “Yoga Meditation” (humble brag) integration to the “Come to Besiktas” phenomenon, clubs from around the world have continuously innovated new and creative concepts to amplify the social media engagement and hype attached to these moments. Regardless of how well-executed a transfer announcement is, the engagement tendencies of a club’s fans and supporters often determine the virality of the content piece…and no fans in the world make things go viral quite like “Turkish Football Twitter”.
To understand the power of Turkish Twitter is to understand Turkish soccer as a whole with the digital communities being a microcosm of the intense and undying support that the country has for the sport. Within minutes, tweets from top Turkish clubs are filled with thousands of likes and retweets, whether they’re simple club updates or the final score of a derby win. That said, can’t miss moments like transfer announcements, compound excitement, emotion, and viral reaction making them the perfect storm for social engagement, especially in Turkey.
In the recent January transfer window, the historical top three clubs in the Turkish Süper Lig, Fenerbahce, Besiktas, and Galatasaray, all made moves to secure talent from around the world. To no surprise, the multiple announcements made by each team were wildly successful in terms of their reach and engagement thanks to the rabid support and fandom of their respective online communities. Let’s take a look at each club, their content strategies, and the total engagement results from their top signing announcements in January.
Besiktas Transfer Announcement Content Strategy
15x Turkish Champion, Besiktas, known well on social media for their aforementioned “Come to Besiktas” campaign, is no stranger to viral transfer announcements. This winter, they brought hometown legend, Cenk Tosun, back to Istanbul through a series of content pieces in early February. Opting for a more conservative approach, the club posted three tweets from 1/31-2/1 connected to the player’s return.
The first post was a live YouTube video of Tosun stepping out of a club jet with a simple caption “Cenk Tosun is returning home.” The highest engaged posts of the announcement came from pictures of Tosun in a Besiktas kit holding a club scarf. The club also engaged directly with the player, quote tweeting a post from Tosun teasing the announcement with a video of a wonder goal scored in the Champions League.
Despite the modest content approach taken by Besiktas, in comparison to their previous exploits, the announcement was a huge success and totaled 156k+ engagements across the three tweets immediately linked to the transfer. In addition, two tweets posted by Tosun himself, teaser, video, combined for 270k+ engagements.
Galatasaray Transfer Announcement Content Strategy
Next up, Galatasaray announced the signature of Egyptian talent Mostafa Mohamed from Cairo-based club Zamalek in the late stages of the January transfer period. Interesting to note about their strategy, the club begins the process of the upcoming transfers with a blank graphic featuring the Galatasaray crest and a simple message stating that the club was in negotiations with Zamalek for the loan transfer of the player. Although this approach may be considered “anti-climactic” it still totaled over 117k+ engagements and set in place a storyline to introduce the other content pieces going forward.
Three days later, the club fully announced the transfer with creative graphic and video content pieces featuring elements of his Egyptian nationality and highlights from his former club. Not only did this perform extremely well in Turkey, but it also smartly activated the similarly rabid Egyptian digital community to add yet another engagement boost to an already successful campaign with a total of 208k+ engagement across all three posts.
Again, the incoming player also posted content on his own, with two of Mostafa’s tweets, one a screenshot of a Galatasaray Instagram Story and another of him in the club’s kit for 235K+ engagements. Once again, the content shared by the player was more highly engaged than all three posts from the club!
Fenerbahce Transfer Announcement Content Strategy
Last, but certainly not least, Fenerbahce announced one of, if not the most, anticipated transfers in Turkish Süper Lig history in the purchase of former Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil. What can only be described as a saga, the hype surrounding the announcement of this transfer was unlike anything we’ve seen in terms of social media engagement. Combining the individual popularity of Özil, the Turkish Twitter community, and the worldwide reach of Arsenal Football Club, resulted in, to our knowledge, the most highly engaged player transfer announcement of all time across the board.
Özil began the proceedings with a number of teasers and references to his love and affiliation for the club (Teaser, Q&A Answer) which quickly caused a stir within the Fenerbahce online community building momentum towards an official statement from the club. This culminated in one of the most engaged tweets from a soccer club of all time, seeing Fenerbahce simply post the lyrics to the Turkish pop song – I Dropped Roses on Your Way – “Gel Gündüzle Gece Olalım…” at 19:07, corresponding to the year of Fenerbahce’s founding while subtly making a connection to Özil. Within seconds, the tweet had tens of thousands of likes and was further amplified by a quote tweet from Özil with yet another transfer tease.
Incredibly, the tweet totaled over 820k+ engagements, more than 3x the amount of the entire Mostafa to Galatasaray campaign with Özil’s tweet performing equally as well with over 845k+ engagements.
The following day, Fenerbahce shared pictures of Özil touching down in Istanbul with his family, establishing that the transfer process had begun in addition photos of him with a team scarf. A week later, the confirmation of the transfer was announced with a graphic of the club’s logo and official statement followed by a more robust creative video that sealed the deal and coined the transfer campaign’s slogan #FenerSignMesut. Throughout the time between the first lyric tweet and the announcement of the transfer proceedings on behalf of the club, Özil also shared a number of other tweets building excitement to the final announcement (Number Teaser, avatar change, family picture, quote tweet, before and after graphic, reshare of the transfer announcement video). Again, Ozil’s tweets resulted in unprecedented levels of interaction with over 2.84M+ engagements across these 7 posts alone. To give you further proof of how insane these interaction numbers are, Özil’s 7 tweets earned 1.1M more engagements than Manchester City’s entire global Twitter account in January 2021.
At the end of the day, Fenerbahce’s account had over 1.36M+ engagements and 8M video views on all content related to Özil on the day his signing was officially announced, going well beyond anything we’ve seen from a soccer club’s transfer announcement content, a true testament to the creativity of the Fenerbahce team and furthermore so to the influence and strength of the Turkish Twitter ecosystem. To put things into further perspective, when Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team’s Twitter account posted 8 tweets related to his signing the day it was officially announced for a total of 263K+ engagements. Özil’s signing had five times that amount with 2 fewer tweets…kesinlikle çılgın!
All social engagement metrics were determined using the analysis tools of SPORTFIVE’S U.S Digital team. One engagement is determined by either a Twitter retweet, quote tweet, or like.
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