LAUSANNE, JANUARY 27th, 2022 – BCW Sports, the sports practice of leading global communications agency BCW released today its 2021 International Sports Federation Social Media Ranking, which aims to capture the social media footprint of international sports federations (IFs).
This year’s ranking includes all IFs from both the Winter and Summer Olympic programmes, as well as all recognized non-Olympic IFs.
Notable key findings this year include:
IFs see exponential growth in followers: The dramatic growth rates of many IFs in the last year shows many IFs have captialised on the opportunities of social media and have made a noticeable growth in followers and engagement rates across their platforms. With Covid-19 continuing to hinder sport events, IFs have turned up their social media presence pushing virtual engagement on all levels such as athlete take-overs, interactive fan outreach and virtual events. These efforts have significantly boosted the digital transformation efforts of IFs with an average growth increase of 36% on Instagram and 33% on Facebook. Some IFs showed triple digit growth numbers including World Athletics who increased their followers by 4 million (total 8’135’451) – a 101% increase in the last year!
Traditional IFs doing much better than newer IFs: With new sports entering the Olympic summer programme, it is worth noting that traditional Olympic IFs have a much larger following than the newly established summer IFs. While these younger IFs have been given a big position in the Olympic Movement, the numbers show that these younger sport federations have yet to establish their social media presence compared to the traditional and more established IFs.
Summer IFs have stronger online presence than Winter IFs: While summer sports represent a larger number of IFs in this year’s ranking, it is still interesting to note that even the strongest winter IFs have not been able garner the social media presence as some seemingly smaller summer IFs. While winter IFs account for approximately 10% of IFs in the ranking, one would imagine that at least one winter IF would break the top 10 list of every ranking.
Olympic Games not only opportunity for IFs to grow: The Olympic Games have been a helpful tool in the growth for many IFs. However, it is still interesting to note that despite the background of Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022, this year’s ten most followed sport federations continue to include three non-Olympic sports. With the International Cricket Council (ICC) keeping its crown as the most followed IF, growing an additional 35% this year and increasing its total followers to 79’696’575. FIFA (41’082’790) and FIBA (13’909’368) held steady in second and third place. Interestingly the two other non-Olympic sports in the overall top ten include Teqball (International Teqball Federation, in 7th position, 6’288’971) and Cheerleading (International Cheer Union, 10th, 3’358’462) have made use of other virtual opportunities to engage with their members.
Tanya Heimlich-Ng Yuen, BCW Sports Senior Director, said: “While sport and events continue to be negatively impacted by Covid-19, it is clear that a strong social media presence provides IFs with new opportunities for growth. When done right, IF are able to not only expand their brand awareness but also cultivate new partnerships and rapidly increase their fan base. With some IFs growing their base by more than 100% and gaining millions of new followers in a year it shows that most IFs have not even begun to tap into their online potential.”
About the Study
The International Sports Federation Social Media Ranking is BCW Sports’ latest research into how the international sports federations communicate via social media. It is an annual assessment now in its fourth year. In total, 120 institutional Twitter accounts, 105 Facebook pages, 93 Instagram accounts, 76 YouTube channels, 61 LinkedIn profiles, 41 Periscope accounts and 27 TikTok accounts, as well as 32 personal Twitter accounts of the heads of international sports federations have been included and analysed in this ranking. To access the full results please contact Tanya Heimlich-Ng Yuen at [email protected]
BCW, a leading global communications agency, is in the business of moving people on behalf of clients. BCW partners with clients in the B2B, consumer, corporate, crisis management, healthcare, sport, public affairs, purpose and technology sectors to set strategic direction for all communications and create powerful and unexpected ideas that earn attention. Through an Earned Plus offer – earned media plus paid media, creative technology, data, AI and an expanding suite of innovative capabilities – BCW moves people with power and precision to move its clients forward. BCW is a part of WPP (NYSE: WPP), a creative transformation company. For more information, visit www.bcw-global.com.