12 June 2018 / akkanto / digital media / NL FR 

World Cup: Portugal is social media champion thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo

  • akkanto and the International PR network ECCO have analyzed the social media channels of footballers from all 32 countries participating in the World Cup
  • Belgium in 8th place in the Nations Ranking, Eden Hazard in 19th place among the individual players
  • Nearly 90% of all players are active on social networks
  • In total, players have accumulated more than 2.5 billion followers


32 countries will play for the World Cup in the next four weeks. Portugal can already look forward to a victory in the social media rankings. The football players of the current European champion have in total over 360 million followers on the three major platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The undisputed leader among the individual players is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar has an incredible 320 million fans or followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Thanks to Ronaldo, Portugal took first place in the ranking, followed by Brazil and Spain with 350 million and 333 million supporters respectively. The Belgian Red Devils have a total of 103 million followers, putting them in eighth place with an interesting fact: Ronaldo has three time more followers than the entire Belgian football team. Iceland came last in the evaluation. The players of the Nordic island state have less than 1 million followers.

These are the main findings of a social media study conducted by the international PR network ECCO. The Belgian agency akkanto, which is a member of the worldwide PR network, also contributed to the study. For the study, ECCO's experts analyzed the social media activities of all 23 football players of the 32 World Cup participants. In total, ECCO agencies analysed 736 players worldwide. For the evaluation, the number of followers and fans on the social platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter was added together.

Players have a total of 2.5 billion followers on the social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 89% of all players are active on social networks and have at least one account. On Instagram alone, players have a total of around 1.1 billion followers. This corresponds to a share of 43 %. Instagram is clearly the number 1. 81% of all 736 players have an Instagram account.

Every team has its social media star. The 32 first-place winners each have in total around 1.2 billion followers. This means that 32 players account for 47% of the total number of followers. Mathieu Van Overstraeten, Senior Consultant at akkanto, explains: "The top players turn their own name into a brand and are among the most important influencers in the digital world. Their reach makes them attractive brand ambassadors for companies. Almost all football professionals worldwide now use social networks, only 10% are still digital deniers."

Brazilians particularly active in the networks

In six countries, all players dribble through the three social networks examined. The Brazilians are the most present. Every player from Brazil is active in the networks, with South American footballers playing on 63 of a maximum of 69 platforms. The Belgian Red Devils are also very active in the social networks, with 22 of the 23 players officially present on at least one oft he three major platforms. Leander Dendoncker is the only Belgian player who has no official account. Most of them are represented on all three channels. In total there are 62 out of 69 possible channels.

And how are the best footballers from Belgium doing? The clear leader in the Belgian team is Eden Hazard with more than 27 million followers. Next in line are Thibaut Courtois (11,9 million), Kevin De Bruyne (10,6 million) and Marouane Fellaini (8,9 million). Vincent Kompany and Romelu Lukaku are 5th and 6th, with both more than 7 million followers. Fun fact: all these Belgian football stars play in the English Premier League.

The PR network ECCO has also investigated on which platform players reach the most fans and followers. The result: Instagram is number one with a share of 43%, Facebook is second with 33% and Twitter comes third with 24%.

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