TikTok in the Bundesliga: How important is the app for the sports business?

TikTok already has over 100 million users in Europe. But in the Bundesliga and with well-known sports brands there is often no presence in the app at all. FC Bayern, BVB and Puma show how it can work.

Donald Trumps “PoliTikTok”-Tamotam in the politically motivated data protection context, extremely high download numbers worldwide and the prospect of new lucrative monetization opportunities and marketing formats bring TikTok the highest public attention. The app for mobile short video clips, which has been increasing in popularity among Generation Z for many months, offers an inviting communication platform for companies as well. The fact that the Bundesliga soccer team, as the financially strongest player in the German sports business, only occasionally use the platform vigorously, and thus not emulate the global player clubs from Munich and Dortmund, is just as surprising as the passive role played by the sports brands Adidas, Nike and Co. at the popular platform.

Only 13 of 36 clubs included: The German Bundesliga only relies on TikTok to a limited extent – so far

The inclusion of the app in German professional football is rather modest and mixed: seven first division clubs are not represented on TikTok at all, only two second division clubs use TikTok for fan communication, with HSV as the second division even storming into the top five of all German professional football clubs. And second division SV Darmstadt 98 confirms its digital dynamism with its young TikTok presence, which it recently underpinned with the opening of an account on the B2B platform LinkedIn.

In the German TikTok professional football league, only 13 out of 36 clubs from the first and second Bundesliga made use of their right to play on the platform with their own account. Of 18 first division clubs in the German football club, only eleven clubs with a platform presence took the opportunity to get in touch with fans, to interest new fans in the club – and thus to generate potential merchandising customers. With FC Schalke 04 and RB Leipzig, two particularly ambitious clubs are currently not making the leap into the German top ten rankings determined here.

Royal blue clips

The club of the royal blues from Gelsenkirchen FC Schalke 04 started on the TikTok platform in mid-August of that year. One month later, on September 14th, there were 13,600 followers and 46,500 likes. Charlotte Kohlhas, responsible for Media Partnerships DACH at TikTok, brings the video virality and the fan feeling for sports brands into play on the Schalke website:

TikTok has become the platform of choice for renowned sports brands like FC Schalke 04 to reach an expanded audience in a fun and engaging way. TikTok offers the unique opportunity to connect with users like on no other platform through the virality of the videos – this creates a strong community and fan feeling.

@ s04

Schalke goes TikTok! 🤪 FOLLOW NOW! 🔵⚪️ ## myfirsttiktok ## myfirsttiktokvideo ## foryou ## followme ## fyp ## foryourpage ## s04 ## tiktok

♬ Original sound – FC Schalke 04

First tender wingbeats from RB Leipzig on TikTok

RB Leipzig started its TikTok Channel on September 20, 2020, following the Austrian “brother” Red Bull Salzburg. While the people of Leipzig recorded 5,339 followers and 12,200 likes three days after going live, the following rose to 9,111 within seven days by September 30th. It only seems a matter of time before the CL semi-finalist from Leipzig overtakes Red Bull Salzburg, which posted 18,800 followers and 137,200 likes on the credit side on September 30, 2020.


We have that TikTok mood 🎵😜 So let’s do TikTok! ## DerBallRolltWieder ## AintStoppingNow ## RBLeipzig

♬ Original sound – RBLeipzig

Seven Bundesliga clubs still without TikTok tactics

Seven addresses from the 1st league completely forego accounts and thus applause in the app: FC Augsburg, SC Freiburg, Arminia Bielefeld, Union Berlin, FSV Mainz 05, Werder Bremen and VfB Stuttgart. The fact is: Reach is a currency for all companies operating in the online business – and thus also for professional football clubs that generate online income, particularly through merchandising, memberships and ticketing. The followers are a quantitative indicator, the number of likes describes the engagement value – we have listed each measured variable below in a top ten ranking.

Great demand on TikTok for the seven no-show clubs

An indication of the high demand at TikTok for the seven first division clubs without an account can be determined by entering #Clubname in the search field. This listing of the search query results received for the seven no-show clubs underscores the idle communication potential, especially at Werder Bremen, which is the most popular with almost 9 million entries. Union Berlin follows with around 2.4 million, ahead of VfB Stuttgart (2.2 million). For the newcomer from East Westphalia, #arminiabielefeld received 1.6 million responses, while #fcaugsburg 704.100, #scfreiburg 543.100 and FSV Mainz 05 generated 515,000 views.

Extreme gradient behind FC Bayern Munich

To see FC Bayern Munich in first place is nothing special. On the other hand, growth is particularly rapid: In May 2020, the FC Bayern Munich account was followed by 1.6 million people. By the kick-off of the Champions League semi-final match against Olympique Lyon on August 18, the TikTok following rose to 2.5 million. to cheer another leap in growth to 3.3 million followers four weeks later in mid-September. The extreme gap between the clubs behind FC Bayern is also particularly striking.

TikTok follower numbers from Bundesliga clubs
TikTok follower numbers for Bundesliga clubs, © web-netz Sports

The digital dinosaur dominates the HSV’s TikTok tactics

The HSV has been active as a creator club since February 28, 2019 and storms into third place in both the top ten ranking of followers and in the ranking by likes (see below)! The HSV’s social media team chooses the mascot match plan, see above Tino Israel, Social media officer of Hamburger SV:

At TikTok, we pursue a very specific content strategy that focuses on a very young target group. Our mascot Dino Hermann acts as the HSV anchor and can join in with all the trends and dances in the network. Our primary goal is to create positive contacts with our club and to anchor HSV as a club in the minds of the young people that understands them and interacts on the same level. It is important that we as a club communicate permanently and approachably with the fans, for example via the comments.

HSV is currently not taking advantage of the monetization perspective, but classifies it as quite conceivable in the foreseeable future, so Tino Israel:

We’re not currently pursuing a monetization approach at TikTok. It would be conceivable that income could be generated directly or indirectly through the sale of merchandising items or the integration of partners.

TikTok: Like numbers at the Bundesliga clubs
TikTok: Like numbers at the Bundesliga clubs, © web-netz Sports

FCB and BVB: Powerplay on the platform

FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund dominate the German TikTok league by a huge margin and storm into the top ten rankings of the top European clubs. Both clubs have decided to continue partnerships with the platform. So explained Ye jueming, Head of Douyin Sports, on the FC Bayern website:

With a view to the continuation of the Bundesliga, Douyin is delighted to be joining forces with FC Bayern. It is our first cooperation with a football club. Douyin’s creative and interactive platform can support FC Bayern in order to attract even more young fans in China with high-quality content.

Borussia Dortmund (as of September 14th) has achieved strong placements in both of the top ten European rankings. BVB can even overtake the followers of the stronger clubs Juventus Turin and Atletico Madrid in the likes ranking – which speaks for the content quality. The far-reaching partnership with TikTok also shows how high the status is at BVB. BVB managing director declared on April 25th Carsten Cramer in the TikTok newsroom As part of the partnership with TikTok – which, in addition to a digitally designed service package, relies on other advertising and promotion options such as perimeter advertising in SIGNAL IDUNA PARK and virtual advertising in Europe:

The TikTok video app has achieved enormous popularity and a very high number of users in a very short time with younger users between 16 and 25 years of age. The platform offers us new creative possibilities to let our fans participate in the BVB experience and to exchange ideas with them.


From 0 to 100! ## erlinghaaland ## realquick ## bvb ## borussiadortmund

♬ Original sound – Borussia Dortmund

TikTok follower numbers at clubs in Europe
TikTok follower numbers at clubs in Europe, © web-netz Sports

Manchester United is the only one of the big clubs at Champions League level that does not have an active presence with its own account.

TikTok Like numbers at European clubs
TikTok like numbers at European clubs, © web-netz Sports

Sports brands: almost everyone chases after the music

Of all the sports brands that are active in German professional football as suppliers to the clubs, only Puma and Under Armor currently deliver on their TikTok accounts. Nike only placed content for five months, the last time at the end of July 2020. Hummel, Jako, Macron, Uhlsport, Erima, Saller, Joomla and Umbro are absent. The TikTok abstinence from Adidas is the most surprising. Especially since the brand with the three stripes activated a short interlude on Douyin, the Chinese platform version of TikTok. The press reported on the Adidas campaign, including Brand Eins:

In China, where the company is called Douyin, it has launched a campaign with local celebrities. In one clip, for example, an actor acts as an aerial drummer. However, this case shows how demanding the clientele is. Initially, the campaign brought in more than a million likes, the third serve a few months later only a good 3,000.

Nike: No show since the end of July

Nike’s TikTok launch went brilliantly on February 13th, 2020 when five content posts, including one with the French soccer superstar and world champion Kylian Mbappe, got off to a start with attention. The engagement hit with Creator skykatz was put live just one day later, so far brought among other things. 9.9 million views (as of October 7, 2020). But that was almost it. Since July 26th, 2020 there has been passivity on the Nike account. Could this be related to the back and forth over TikTok in the US and the disapproval of President Trump’s app?


Can you handle @skykatz’s handles? 🏀👀 Share using ## TheReplay

♬ Come Get It – Alexander Hitchens

Puma powers with #lifehack and Neymar transfer

The Puma brand has been active on TikTok since November 18, 2019. The relatively small number of followers (around 530,000 followers as of October 7, 2020) is somewhat surprising. The content concept includes a mix, including internationally known football stars such as Sergio Agüero, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suárez and, since September 23, 2020, Neymar Jr. as the latest brand ambassador. Puma landed the engagement hit with a #lifehack with coffee and Puma logo: 6.4 million views, 414,400 likes, 3,364 comments and 2,555 shares – again one of those engagement success stories that don’t need huge numbers of followers.


About time someone did this right ## lifehack ## reallifeathome

♬ Seve – Tez Cadey

Regardless of whether it is a Bundesliga club or a sports brand: TikTok has advanced to become one of the most relevant players in the digital entertainment and social media industry – and so those responsible for various brands should determine the potential and aim to use it for themselves with meaningful campaigns or appearances in the app .

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