By Danielle Lazarus
No, the Real Madrid Instagram account is not technically a blog, according to Merriam-Webster’s definition. Although you can technically view Instagram online on the World Wide Web, @RealMadrid is more optimally viewed on a mobile device; it features no contributing authors (unless you count Adam Bader, the American manager of all of the team’s social media pages); and there certainly are no opinions expressed, lest they contradict the beliefs of Florentino Pérez. However, what @RealMadrid is lacking in the viewpoints and variety of conventional blogs, it compensates for in its exclusive information, behind-the-scenes insight into the team, and, most importantly, unparalleled accessibility to its content. @RealMadrid currently has 6.5 million followers, the most of any sports franchise on Instagram—so, obviously, it must be doing something right.
@RealMadrid can be considered an extremely accessible social medium in two different ways: one, they way in which it takes advantage of Instagram as a platform; and two, the way in which it takes advantage of its direct relationship with team ownership to provide content to its viewers that fan-run accounts and blogs cannot. First, @RealMadrid uses Instagram to appeal to a larger audience than that of blogs: unlike with online blogs, access is not hindered by an individual’s ability to be on a computer. Instead, its users can access it completely on the go on their smartphones. In that sense, @RealMadrid (and Instagram in general) offers more of a visual experience for its audience, since it’s easier and quicker to process pictures when checking a smartphone than long, verbose blog posts. In fact, it posts an average of nine pictures a day, so there’s never a shortage of material for followers. However, @RealMadrid is not devoid of words: accompanying its photos are pithy captions in both English and Spanish, displaying the account’s recognition of both the importance of providing essential information, and its multilingual followers.
So, @RealMadrid is attractive to this mobile, on-the-go audience, while at the same time utilizing both its captions and graphics to provide key information to appeal to traditional, content-seeking blog readers as well. It takes this a step further, however, by the fact that it is the first to know, and thus provide, this information. There are plenty of blogs that are focused on guessing potential moves during the signing window, or imagining optimal Starting XI lineups against opponents—but @RealMadrid is the most reliable, concrete source for these actual facts.
For example, on January 23rd, Real Madrid announced the signing of 21-year-old midfielder Lucas Silva, of the reigning Brazilian champion squad Cruziero. Their Instagram account’s coverage of Silva’s signing included a graphic with facts about him, a photo of him receiving his official jersey, him at his first training session alongside Gareth Bale, and even him on an operating table undergoing his first physical (seriously, who else would even think of posting anything like that?). @RealMadrid was later the first to announce Silva’s first time being available for a match off the bench, by unveiling the Starting XI for the team against Sevilla on February 4th. Silva did not play; however, within minutes of the match ending, Real Madrid’s Instagram account had posted the score, along with five photos of game action.
@RealMadrid isn’t strictly informative, as it also showcases the more “fun” sides of the players. For example, it often uses the “regram” Instagram app to display photos from the players’ personal Instagram accounts (with links, so viewers can follow them too). After Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballón D’Or, @RealMadrid regrammed Instagrams from multiple players’ personal accounts, including Fabio Coentrao and Jesé Rodriguez, featuring them, Ronaldo, and his trophy. The photos retained the players’ original captions, so fans could see how “Guauuuu!” (cool) Jesé thought the moment was. Real Madrid players also are big fans of selfies, specifically Marcelo—from selfies in the hotel with “Lukitaaaa” [Luka Modric] to selfies on the bus with “Gran persona! <3” Jesé, Marcelo seems to have @RealMadrid’s selfies covered. However, he’s rivaled by goalkeeper Keylor Navas, whose purple-filtered birthday selfie to Karim Benzema seems to be giving Marcelo some competition.
Another notable characteristic of @RealMadrid is the content the account posts leading up to games: namely, its “Interesting Stats” graphics and its video clips of remarkable game moments in Real Madrid history. For example, leading up to the club’s match against Getafe, @RealMadrid posted a graphic highlighting their 13-5-2 record and Ronaldo’s individual success against the club. The graphic is sandwiched between two video clips: one of a Sergio Ramos header against Getafe in 2012, and another of an insane Ronaldo behind-the-back goal from 2013. Both features allow @RealMadrid’s audience to delve further into the club, both by putting numbers and statistics behinds the matchups, and also by reliving action-packed moments from past matchups via video.
Despite the variety of great features it offers, @RealMadrid’s biggest disadvantage is its reason for existence in the first place—the team itself. @RealMadrid the Instagram account is an extension of Real Madrid the team, which is first and foremost a business; that means that the team-owned Instagram account is there to help further the business, to help brand and sell the team even more. What I mean is that the account is tailored so carefully to help curate a specific, sellable, Instagram-able image of Real Madrid: hard-working (#Entrenamiento training photos, which comprise the majority of the posts), extremely successful (there are 12 posts featuring Ronaldo’s Ballon D’Or alone), yet human (weird black-and-white closeup of Isco’s beard anyone?) and HEY THEY HAPPEN TO HAVE A BASKETBALL TEAM—YOU SHOULD GO TO THEIR GAMES TOO! Real Madrid is the most valuable sports franchise in the world, so if you’re looking for criticism, opinions, or any legitimate creativity for that matter—@RealMadrid is not for you. @RealMadrid is first and foremost for the brand.
However, that’s not a bad thing. Since Real Madrid is a booming business, they sure do know how to sell us their product. And that product is great: if you’re looking for exclusive information and unrivaled access into the club, @RealMadrid is definitely worth the follow. It’s by far one of the best-run and most comprehensive sports Instagrams out there. And, most importantly, on a personal level: as a Madridista who used to live in Madrid and is now back in the United States, @RealMadrid makes me feel like I’m as though I’ve returned to the best city in the world, about to step into Santiago Bernabeu to root for my favorite team again.