Sensation by Union – Berliners win the title

A new champion: 1. FC Union Berlin crossed the finish line as 2023 champion in the virtual title race of the International Football Institute’s (IFI) digital social media league. Union, fourth in the 2022/23 Bundesliga and rewarded with a Champions League ticket, catapulted from ninth place last year to a place in the sun. In second and third place: serial champions Bayern Munich, who triumphed on the pitch for the eleventh time in a row and won the Social Media League in 2018 and 2020, ahead of RB Leipzig, DFB Cup winners and Social Media Champions 2021 & 2022. The Munich/Ismaning-based International Football Institute (IFI) independently and scientifically evaluated the official social media accounts of the 18 first division clubs over the entire 2022/23 Bundesliga season, determined the Social Media Index for each club and, based on this, the final table of the 2023 Social Media League.

Prof. Dr. Katharina Schöttl, who heads the Digital Communications department at the IFI, explains Union’s sensational social media performance in 2022/23, which saw the club improve from ninth place to the title: “Union Berlin has impressively demonstrated how it can succeed in taking sporting success to social media and thus, in terms of social media performance, catch up in just one season with those clubs that have been at the top of the social media league table for years. Particularly noteworthy are the authentic communication style, the detailed design of the posts, and Union’s exploitation of the technical and configurational possibilities on all channels.”

While FC Bayern Munich (2nd) and RB Leipzig (3rd) have consistently occupied top positions in the social media league for years, Union Berlin has managed for the first time to translate its successes on the pitch into fourth place in the Champions League on Insta, YouTube and the like.

IFI Director Prof. Dr. Florian Kainz on the top field at the virtual pitch: “This year’s result shows on the one hand that there is a group of established clubs that succeed in maintaining their social media performance at a consistently high level, even with increasing channel diversity and complexity. On the other hand, it also proves that it is possible to join this established group within one season.”

Also noteworthy are the results of SC Freiburg and 1. FSV Mainz 05, which each improved by five places compared with their 2021/22 results.

The International Football Institute IFI has been publishing the German Social Media League at the end of each season since the 2016/17 Bundesliga season. The rating is based on an independent social media index (SMI) developed by the IFI. Since the current 2021/22 season, the five most important social media communication channels of the 18 first division clubs (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and, for the first time, Tik Tok) have been scientifically analyzed and evaluated using a total of 19 key figures (e.g. number of fans, interaction and growth rates, post frequency).

The champions of the social media league so far:
2017 Eintracht Frankfurt
2018 Bayern Munich
2019 Eintracht Frankfurt
2020 Bayern Munich & Schalke 04
2021 RB Leipzig
2022 RB Leipzig & Bayer 04 Leverkusen