No football player is bigger than their club right? In fact, if you ask someone to tell you the first thing that they think of when you say the word "football", you would usually get the name of the club that they support.
Things are interchangeable though, if you ask someone the name of the first footballer that comes into their head, footballers that are seen as more than just mere football players and as brands are usually the first that people think of – David Beckham, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo being three of the most popular. We also tend to remember top footballers like Pele, Cruyff, Maradonna more than their teams.
The difference between a footballer and a club, is that a footballer has a face, and that face is their marketing tool. With social media being an important part of these footballers self-promotion, it would seem that some are neglecting their websites in favour of a medium that allows them to directly interact with their fans.
A prime example would be David Beckham – His website davidbeckham.com is itself just a holding page that links to his many social media accounts.
In comparison, we have Cristiano Ronaldo whose website is a website with other factors to it and not just a holding page. Using SimilarWeb, I had a look at his website cristianoronaldo.com, and came across unofficial fan site ronaldo7.net – and what we can see that there has been a huge amount of visits worldwide in the past six months. You would not expect a fan site to be generating over four times as much traffic as the official site, but the stats don’t lie.
With the rise in Cristiano Ronaldo's brand following him winning the Golden Boot, the unofficial ronaldo7.net and the ever official realmadrid.com are neck and neck with the traffic they're driving. The question is: will the player be bigger than the team?
What these stats are showing us is that after the start of the football season, views on realmadrid.com drop drastically, but the views on ronaldo7.net are on the rise and are well on their way to being more popular than Real Madrid’s own site.
The questions all of this leaves us with, are why are these footballers ditching traditional online methods and solely focusing on social media? Are the websites kept up and running as skeletons solely for sponsorship? And do they actually care?
Dino Georgiou is marketing manager of SimilarWeb