It makes sense for athletes to be social media-savvy. After all, they’re constantly in the public eye and can go from being treated like deities to dirt in an instant. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook allow them to interact with the public on a more human level.
It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that sports people are among the most followed on Twitter and most well-liked on Facebook. It’s well and good having loads of fans, but how well does that translate into online influence?
In an attempt to see how influential the most popular sports people out there are one social media, we turned to social measurement tool Klout. We’re not saying Klout’s perfect, but it is useful for the task at hand.
The Brazilian and Real Madrid footballer isn’t just one of the most followed athletes on social media, he also has spadefuls of talent. He was FIFA’s world footballer of the year in 2007.
According to Klout, the three topics Cristiano Ronaldo is most influential in are “Cristiano Ronaldo”, “Real Madrid C.F”, and “Soccer”. Clearly you can’t fault the man when it comes to sharing what he knows.
Most of the topics Shaq is influential on when it comes to social media are run-of-the-mill: celebrities, the NBA, and… Um, there’s no easy way of saying this…”Diarrhea” [Sic]. That’s right folks, being a seven-foot plus basketball legend makes you influential on, of all things, bowel conditions.
At 27 Lebron James is already a basketball legend. The Miami Heat forward has won the NBA’s most valued player award twice. He also experienced Olympic glory with the US men’s basketball team in 2008.
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior is the youngest person on this list. Born in 1992, he a rising star for renowned Brazilian Football club Santos. He also has his own site with links to his social media accounts.
The Manchester United and England striker is influential on the topics of football, soccer and Manchester United. And there I was thinking his area of expertise was particle physics.
The New England Patriots wide receiver (the guy who catches the ball after it gets thrown by the quarterback) is probably best known for legally changing his name to OchoCinco. Oh, he’s also the subject of a reality dating show called “The Ultimate Catch“.
He may have retired as a professional cyclist, but Armstrong is still incredibly active — running marathons and doing triathlons on a regular basis. Unsurprisingly, he spends a lot of time posting about his charity Livestrong and the Tour De France.
The buck-toothed Brazilian footballer was FIFA’s world player of the year in 2004 and 2005. He won the World Cup with Brazil and played for European giants Barcelona and Milan, before returning to the country of his birth to play for Flamengo.
Diwght Howard plays for NBA franchise the Orlando Magic and is has won numerous plaudits in his eight year career. He also has his own Facebook app.
In the late 90s and early 2000s every kid kicking a soccer ball wanted to be like Ronaldo. His glory days may be long gone, but he can rest easy knowing that some consider him one of the greatest footballers of all time.
A couple of interesting things can be taken from this list. Football really is a global game, so it’s not actually all that surprising that there are so many high-profile players on the list. The fact that a number of them are Brazilian and tweet almost exclusively in Portuguese is illustrative of how tech-savvy that nation is. Lance Armstrong’s place on the list shows just how much of a celebrity his story and Tour de France achievements made him. This is only made more stark by the fact that the next most followed cyclist Alberto Contador has just under 400 000 followers.