Global communications agency Burson Cohn & Wolfe has released its International Sports Federations Social Media Ranking 2019, analysing the performances of 41 Olympic sports federations across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
The study looked at several metrics, including overall number of followers, reach per post, and interactions and engagement levels, to assess how IFs fared on social media over the course of 2019.
BCW particularly highlighted the performance of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), which registered uplifts across all platforms. On Instagram, it attracted higher proportional growth than any other federation, adding 351,039 followers, up over 70-per-cent year-on-year. It also saw more growth than any other international federation on Facebook – 63-per-cent – and the second-highest on Twitter, with 32 per cent.
Only the Badminton World Federation (BWF) developed its audience on Twitter at a higher rate, increasing its following by 56 per cent.
In overall terms, World Rugby is the most popular federation on Instagram, with over 1.27 million followers. The International Federation of Basketball Associations (Fiba), with 6.64 million followers, came out top on Facebook, while Twitter was dominated by the International Federation of Football Associations, with seven of the top ten accounts on the platform belonging to Fifa in its various languages. Its English, Spanish and Arabic-language Twitter accounts made up the top three.
Interestingly, Fifa barely featured in BCW’s measurements on Facebook or Instagram – likely an effect of the fact that individual football leagues and clubs drastically outstrip the popularity of the game’s governing body.
Among individual leaders within federations, World Athletics had the strongest showing on Twitter, with both its president, Lord Sebastian Coe, and chief executive, Jon Ridgeon, featuring in the top ten. Coe was at the top, his 120,000 followers almost four times as many as Fifa’s secretary general Fatma Samoura in second place.
On the differences between the three platforms, BCW identified Facebook as the primary focus of most organisations’ social media efforts, Instagram as the most important for engaging younger audiences, and found that Twitter was largely used to disseminate news rather than actively engage with followers.
Lars Haue-Pedersen, Burson Cohn & Wolfe Sports Practice managing director, said: “Social media has become a fundamental part of any communications plan and it continues to be a strong driver in how sports organisations interact with fans and new audiences.
“This year’s ranking highlights the importance of how social media is not only a platform for showcasing sport, but also the place where the true relationship with fans begins. It is the starting point where a community can be cultivated – and where users can contribute to a unique experience around sport. It will be interesting to see how online sport communities evolve and how IFs take the lead in this development.”
The social media study can be found in full here.