HomeGlobalInsightsThe Olympic Sports Social Media Ranking Finds Biggest Audiences on Facebook, Best Engagement on Instagram
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The Olympic Sports Social Media Ranking Finds Biggest Audiences on Facebook, Best Engagement on InstagramJanuary 28, 2019

The BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) Sports Practice today released its 2018 Olympic Sports Social Media Ranking, looking at the effectiveness of the social media engagement of Olympic Sports Federations in the past year, which saw such major sporting events as the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, the FIFA World Cup in Russia and the Youth Olympic Summer Games in Argentina.

The study analyses the social media footprint of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its 41 international Olympic sports federations as well as of their presidents and leading executives.

Among the top social media leaders, the analysis shows that football (soccer), basketball, rugby and cycling have the largest social media fan bases, while smaller sports federations such as judo, wrestling and table tennis also enjoy a strong social media presence.

Notable key findings include:

  • Instagram is the social network where the sports federations have the best engagement. The follower count on the Instagram accounts combined grew by more than 51 percent over the last year. In 2018, the 56 Instagram accounts have shared 27,871 posts which have garnered 112,204,227 interactions. As for Instagram stories, they are all the rage among Olympic Sports Federations and a great way to share ‘behind the scenes’ pictures or videos from training sessions.
  • Facebook is the social media channel where Olympic sports federations have the largest fan base. The combined total fan count reaches almost 48 million people and a median average of 221,434. However, the engagement has declined drastically since our study in 2017.
  • Twitter has become an indispensable social media news feed for Olympic sports federations. All Winter and Summer Sports governing bodies have an active presence on the platform, with a combined total audience of 33,876,842 followers and a median average of 31,800.
  • The FIFA TV YouTube channel has become the most followed YouTube channel of all Olympic Sports Federations. The FIFA TV YouTube channel today counts 7.4 million subscribers, more than twice as many as the Olympic YouTube channel with slightly more than three million subscribers – mainly thanks to the FIFA World Cup 2018!

Lars Haue-Pedersen, BCW Sports Practice Managing Director, said: “Social media continues to be a strong driver in communication, especially as it evolves and grows in importance within society. It is clear from our ranking that social media has also become the go-to-tool to engage with fans and especially with youth, as international federations continue to expand their reach to these audiences we hope that this ranking can help them gain additional insights on how they can best engage and make their sport more relevant worldwide.”

In total, 97 institutional Twitter accounts, 60 Facebook pages, 56 Instagram accounts and 51 YouTube channels, as well as 32 personal Twitter accounts of the heads of international sports federations have been included and analysed in this ranking. All of them enjoyed solid growth throughout the year, not necessarily tied to the global sporting events.

About the Study

Olympic Sports Social Media Ranking is BCW's latest research into how the International Olympic Committee and the international Olympic Sports Federations communicate via social media. The research builds on BCW’s highly acclaimed annual Twiplomacy study. The Olympic Sports Social Media Ranking is an annual assessment now in its third year.