Bangladesh fan base manipulated by IPL social media pages

One of the many images of Liton Das posted on Kolkata Knight Rider's Facebook pageKKR Facebook Page

Have you ever fed the fish in a fishery?

I fully understand that majority of the readers here don’t own a fishery nor do they work in one.

Still, thanks to social media and its tendency to keep people hooked on its feed of random but addictive collection of clips, it is likely that most of the readers have seen videos of the fish feeding process. For those who haven’t, I’ll try and paint a picture.

Imagine an enclosed water body. The water completely still, with some occasional movement signaling that there is some life beneath the surface.

But all that changes as soon as the first portion of the fish feed is poured in. The tranquil water surface erupts with hundreds or thousands of fishes nibbling away, trying to consume their share of the food.

The commotion continues throughout the feeding process. And once the feeding ends, the water body returns to its previous tranquil state.

In a write-up about IPL franchises and Bangladeshi fans, the talk of feeding fish might seem irrelevant. But it isn’t. I’ll prove it.

Blind devotion

Indian Premier League (IPL) is the premier T20 franchise tournament in the world. In IPL, nearly all top T20 cricketers of the world are in action and most matches go down to the wire.

But that’s not what draws the general Bangladeshi into the tournament. Most Bangladeshis are unfussed about IPL unless a Bangladeshi cricketer is in the mix.

Whenever a Bangladeshi cricketer gets picked up by a franchise, the country’s passionate cricket fans flock to the social media pages of that franchise and hit the follow button.

Then, without fail, Bangladeshi fans occupy the comment section of each post made on the page, saying why the Bangladeshi cricketer must be picked in every match he is available for.

Taking a Bangladeshi cricketer guarantees a boost in page engagement, number of followers and the page’s reach.

Each of those pages are run by a dedicated social media team. So, it’s natural they would notice this trend and they would be fools not to use it to their advantage.

Always on Facebook, hardly on the field

In the current edition of the IPL, two Bangladeshis are taking part. Mustafizur Rahman in Delhi Capitals and Liton Das in Kolkata Knight Riders.

Mustafiz played in two of the five matches he was available for Delhi. Liton, on the other hand, joined the team on 9 April after Bangladesh’s one-off Test against Ireland and was available for just one game in the tournament, where he wasn’t picked.

In spite of being largely missing from the field, both Mustafiz and Liton have been all over the social media feeds of their respective franchises.

The post on KKR’s Facebook page on 10 April announcing Liton’s arrival to Kolkata has over 434,000 reactions and 41 thousand comments and 6.9 thousand shares.

To put it into perspective, the post made the day before about Rinku Singh, who hit five sixes in the last five balls of the match to pull off a stunning victory only got around 173,000 reactions. The other posts on Rinku garnered even fewer reactions.

In Delhi’s case, Mustafizur has appeared on its feed regularly right from the buildup to the tournament. The trend continued once the tournament began in spite of him not getting picked in the first three games of the season.

Pictures of Mustafiz training in Delhi got more traction that posts made during the match. Quite a few posts on Mustafiz broke the 100,000 mark while other posts struggled to reach the five-figure mark.

String puppets

The social media admins of the DC and KKR pages have acted like the man feeding the fishes in a fishery. Instead of fish feed, the admins have posted images and video clips with Mustafiz and Liton. And like famished fishes, Bangladeshis have flock to the posts, showering it with reacts, comments and shares.

Blinded by their devotion for Liton and Mustafiz and for their misguided sense of national pride, Bangladesh cricket fans have become puppets of IPL social media handlers.

They (Delhi) flew out our Mustafiz on a chartered plane and didn’t play him. There is a social media aspect to it. We also get overexcited. Bangladesh cricket has a fan base which they can exploit
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, former Bangladesh captain

It’s not like the Bangladeshis are completely unaware of it. Many have caught on and have expressed their disapproval of it through angry reacts and unfavourable comments.

But perhaps what they are not realising is even they respond in an unfavourable manner, it’s still boosting the page’s social media engagement, and ultimately helping them grow bigger on the platform.

In the current age, when size of social media followers and page engagement rate are important factors in deciding how much money can be made from advertising through social media, having a Bangladeshi cricketer in the mix is quite an advantage.

This is what former Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza also referred to recently.

“They (Delhi) flew out our Mustafiz on a chartered plane and didn’t play him. There is a social media aspect to it. We also get overexcited. Bangladesh cricket has a fan base which they can exploit,” Mashrafe, who has also played for KKR for one season, told the media recently.

So, what should be the stand of Bangladeshi fans? Should they just ignore IPL completely? No such drastic measures are required, as per Mashrafe.

“I don’t have any headaches about IPL. I’m not concerned by whether Liton gets to play (for KKR) or not. The Bangladesh team is my headache. You, me and every one of us will be happy when the Bangladesh team plays well.”