Bayern Munich beat Manchester United and Barcelona in social media race to win over Chinese football fans

Joe Hall
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Bayern Munich have dedicated Chinese language e-commerce stores (Source: Getty)

German giants Bayern Munich are engaging China's football fans through digital media more successfully than any other football club, according to a new report.

With millions of potential fans to be found in the increasingly football-focused country, leading football clubs have all built a presence in the country its digital sphere.

An annual index from Shanghai-based sports consultancy Mailman named Bayern as the club enjoying most engagement with fans - although Manchester United boast far more followers on local social media platforms.

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Little used in Europe, social media platforms such as Weibo or instant messaging services like WeChat - which has 650m monthly active users - offer leading clubs an opportunity to make direct contact with millions of fans in China.

Manchester United have more followers on social media than any other club (Source: Getty)

Although Manchester United have 8.7m followers on such accounts, it's Bayern whose updates received the most engagement - a metric Mailman says is the most accurate in determining the real popularity of a club in the region.

China was the most popular destination for touring European football clubs last summer, with Bayern, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Lazio and Real Sociedad among the clubs to stage exhibition matches in the country.

The International Champions Cup - a friendly competition featuring Real, Inter and Milan - sold 110,000 tickets across three cities.

Bayern have also been among a host of top European clubs to have launched official Chinese language stores on Alibaba e-commerce channels - opening up potential revenue streams from their online fanbase.

Furthermore, a strong social media presence can help clubs boost revenues by driving up the value of broadcast rights in the country.

The Bundesliga enjoys the best social media engagement of all leagues in the country, something which has helped it secure broadcast deals with four major Chinese TV networks.

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