FC Barcelona Ranks As The Top Sports Team On Social Media

The National Football League is the richest sports league in the world with 27 NFL teams landing on Forbes’ recent look at the 50 most valuable sports teams, including the Dallas Cowboys who ranked first at $4 billion. But when it comes to global reach, NFL teams can’t touch their brethren that play the other brand of football.

The NFL’s 32 teams have a combined 141 million followers on social media across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The tally lags Spanish soccer powerhouses Barcelona and Real Madrid, who on their own command 148 million and 146 million followers respectively. Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barca’s Lionel Messi have the two biggest individual followings in sports with 215 million and 131 million as of last month.

A big following on social media is not everything though for sports teams. It is important to have an engaged audience to help expand the team’s brand and ultimately to monetize that audience. To see which sports teams were doing the best job on social media, Forbes turned to Hookit, which tracks sponsorship value in social and digital media.

Hookit examined the social media accounts of the teams in every major sports league to gauge followings, interactions (likes, shares, comments or retweets) and “earned media value.” The media value is based on sponsored promotions via hashtags and mentions and not image recognition. “Total follower numbers can be impressive, but the engagement is what drives the value coupled with the quality of ‘promoted’ posts,” says Hookit co-founder Scott Tilton.

We combined the ranks of teams in these three categories to determine the top sports teams on social media below. The stats cover June 2015 through June 2016. Soccer dominates the action with 11 of the top 20 teams. Barcelona ranked first in all three categories.

Barcelona stars Messi and Neymar ranks as two of the three most popular athletes on social media. (Photo: Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images

1. Barcelona

Followers: 145 million

Interactions: 1.45 billion

Media value: $25.3 million

Real added 32 million followers over the last 12 months. Ronaldo’s 115 million Facebook fans are the most of any person on the planet. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

2. Real Madrid

Followers: 141 million

Interactions: 601 million

Media value: $17.2 million

United’s Instagram post this month confirming the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the club’s most popular Instagram post ever. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

3. Manchester United

Followers: 88.4 million

Interactions: 522 million

Media value: $12.1 million

Arsenal had 943 ‘promoted’ posts over the last 12 months, second most among teams in the top 20. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

4. Arsenal

Followers: 50.6 million

Interactions: 239 million

Media value: $9.2 million

Chelsea has the fourth most followers in sports. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

5. Chelsea

Followers: 59.5 million

Interactions: 181 million

Media value: $6.1 million

The quality of Bayern Munich’s promoted social media posts are the highest of any club in the top 20 per Hookit’s research. (Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

6. Bayern Munich

Followers: 46.8 million

Interactions: 204 million

Media value: $2.5 million

The purple-and-gold just endured their worst season in franchise history record-wise. The Lakers’ percentage of promoted posts, 6.4%, is twice as high as the average team. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

7. Los Angeles Lakers

Followers: 29.4 million

Interactions: 106 million

Media value: $11 million

The Warriors’ total followers rank No. 17 among all sports teams, but their total interactions were fourth behind the world’s three biggest soccer clubs. The number of followers doubled this year. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

8. Golden State Warriors

Followers: 13.6 million

Interactions: 293 million

Media value: $3.3 million

Only Barcelona posted more than Man City on their social accounts over the past 12 months.

9. Manchester City

Followers: 27.5 million

Interactions: 107 million

Media value: $5.8 million

Cavs generated the third most media value of any sports team thanks to 20% of their posts involving promotions compared to the average of 3.3%. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

10. Cleveland Cavaliers

Followers: 9.5 million

Interactions: 102 million

Media value: $12.5 million

Promoted posts for Juventus’ represented only 0.6% of all posts on the team’s social media accounts. (Photo credit: TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

11. Juventus

Followers: 30.3 million

Interactions: 156 million

Media value: $2 million

Liverpool’s follower base on social media is seventh highest among sports teams. (Photo credit: MICHAEL BUHOLZER/AFP/Getty Images)

12. Liverpool

Followers: 37.3 million

Interactions: 146 million

Media value: $1.6 million

The Pats trail the Dallas Cowboys in total followers, but interactions per post were 60% higher. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

13. New England Patriots

Followers: 10.9 million

Interactions: 88.4 million

Media value: $4.3 million

The quality of Dortmund’s social media posts were the lowest of any team in the top 20 per Hookit. (Photo credit: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

14. Borussia Dortmund

Followers: 18.8 million

Interactions: 91.4 million

Media value: $1.9 million

PSG added more than nine million followers over the last 12 months or 39%. (Photo credit: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

15. Paris Saint-Germain

Followers: 32.7 million

Interactions: 67.2 million

Media value: $1.3 million

The franchises third Super Bowl title helped boost the club’s social media following by 42%. (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

16. Denver Broncos

Followers: 7.3 million

Interactions: 84.5 million

Media value: $2.3 million

The Cowboys are the most valuable team in sports and have the biggest social following among NFL teams. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

17. Dallas Cowboys

Followers: 11.7 million

Interactions: 61.1 million

Media value: $2.5 million

It is the end of an era for the Spurs with the retirement of Tim Duncan after 19 years in San Antonio. Duncan is not on social media. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

18. San Antonio Spurs

Followers: 9.3 million

Interactions: 80.3 million

Media value: $1.7 million

The Super Bowl run and MVP award for QB Cam Newton helped the Panthers double their social media following over the past year. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

19. Carolina Panthers

Followers: 5.1 million

Interactions: 80.3 million

Media value: $1.7 million

Russell Wilson has the third most Facebook followers of any NFL player. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

20. Seattle Seahawks

Followers: 7 million

Interactions: 66.7 million

Media value: $2.7 million

Source: Hookit




Article written by Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes.