First-Ever Social Media Ranking of International Sports Organisations

Burson-Marsteller, a leading global strategic communications and public relations firm, and its specialised sport consultancy, TSE Consulting, have published the first-ever “Social Media and Olympic Sport Ranking,” which gives an overview of how of international Olympic organisations are performing on social media.

Over the past decade, the Olympics has dominated social media channels and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its 35 International Sports Federations, have all added Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat channels into their communications mix. The first-ever Olympic Ranking looks at how these international sports governing bodies use their social media channels, how effective their channels are and what lessons they can learn from each other.

The rankings offer new insights into which sports have the largest social media fan base, as well as the sports which, while they may have a smaller fan base, nevertheless manage to create a stronger impact. The study finds that the IOC is in a league of its own, topping the rankings on both Facebook and YouTube. The Olympics Facebook page, with more than 15 million likes, is the most-liked page of any international organisation with twice as many likes as UNICEF.

The International Football Association (FIFA), on the other hand, is ahead of the Olympics on both Twitter and Instagram. The FIFA Twitter account boasts 9.3 million followers, almost twice as many as all Olympic accounts combined. The Top five sports on Twitter are football (soccer), basketball, rugby, cycling and athletics.

Despite having fewer followers, the IOC makes more impact with its Twitter communication, with each tweet being shared an average of 467 times compared to 108 times for the @FIFAcom account. However, @FIFAcom is among the most active sports federations on Twitter, with 23 tweets per day, 10 times as many as the @Olympics account thereby managing to gain more impressions than its Olympic rival.

Jeremy Galbraith, CEO, Europe, Middle East & Africa at Burson-Marsteller said, “International sports organisations are discovering powerful new opportunities to engage directly with fans via social media. But our new study reveals that even global sports bodies with millions of followers, such as the IOC and FIFA, can still do much more to maximize the effectiveness of these new communications channels. Social media will continue to become ever more influential for sports governing bodies in years to come, both for engagement with fans and stakeholders, as well as being integral to their commercial strategies.”

Lars Haue-Pedersen, Managing-Director, TSE Consulting commented, “Social media has become a critical avenue for international sports organisations, not only for communications but also as a strategic lever with the opportunity for these bodies to engage directly with the wide range of members, fans and other stakeholders worldwide. I look forward to seeing how sports governing bodies choose to incorporate and fully integrate these platforms in the way they run their core operations in the future.”

The study finds that the presidents and chief executives of the 35 international sports federations appear somewhat reluctant to have personal profiles on social media. Only 12 sports leaders are active on Twitter, with Sebastian Coe, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the most followed with 110,000 followers. In second place is Brian Cookson, UCI President, and third is Brett Gosper, CEO of World Rugby.

Finally, the study also looked at who might be influencing Olympic sports federations through being followed on Twitter, the platform most likely to create connections between influencers, journalists and the media. Not surprisingly, the IOC Twitter accounts @Olympics and @IOCMedia are connected to most other sports federations.

The Olympic sports news website Inside the Games is the most-followed media organization, just ahead of its rival Around the Rings, with the NBC Olympics Twitter feed in third position. The BBC’s Ollie Williams is the sports journalist most followed by Sports Federations, ahead of Ed Hula, founder of Around the Rings and sports writer Alan Abrahamson from 3 Wire News.

The complete 2016 Social Media and Olympic Sport Ranking with 10 top tips on how to improve social media profiles for Sports Federations is available at [link]


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