BCW Sports Ranking of International Sports Federations Social Media Activities Shows the Digital Power of Younger Sports

1.19.21 • Thought Leadership

LAUSANNE, JANUARY 19, 2021 – BCW Sports, the sports practice of leading global communications agency BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) today released its 2020 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, and for the first time all recognized non-Olympic IFs.

Notable key findings this year include:

Social media channels becoming even more important: The results show that social media in general has further increased its importance among IFs, with significantly growing followings and engagement rates across platforms. This is largely attributable to the fact that, due to Covid-19, the year 2020 turned out to be the year of virtual engagement, pushing all interaction between athletes, fans and rights-holders into the digital sphere and boosting the digital transformation efforts of any IF.

Non-Olympic sports at the top: Summarising the overall strength of all Olympic and non-Olympic IFs brings exciting insights: Three of the top ten sports federations on social media are not part of the Olympic programme. The International Cricket Council (ICC) is the strongest IF on social media and is non-Olympic. The Dubai-based world governing body of Cricket counts a total of 59’048'874 followers across platforms which is significantly more than second-placed FIFA (37’758’132) and third-placed FIBA (12’233’101). The other two non-Olympic sports in the overall top ten are Teqball (International Teqball Federation, in 7th position, 3’793’708) and Cheerleading (International Cheer Union, 8th, 3’432’398).

Facebook and Instagram remain central: Although new platforms have been causing a stir for quite some time now, Facebook is still at the heart of most sport organisations’ social media efforts and it is easy to see why: With the greatest number of followers across all social media platforms, the 105 active accounts of IFs count a total of 63’565’590 users following them which makes Facebook the most popular social media platform in the IF world. The second most important platform in terms of following is Instagram with 30’250’720 total followers.

Lars Haue-Pedersen, BCW Sports Managing Director, said:

“Our study shows that smaller, younger IFs have already gone through what many traditional IFs are forced to be going through right now: A digital transformation. These younger IFs were forced to do so because of lack of coverage in traditional media and are now in the fast lane. It is absolutely stunning to see Teqball and Cheerleading in the top ten, clearly ahead of many larger, Olympic IFs. These more well-established IFs need to act soon if they want to catch up with the younger ones, who for sure will continue to move fast forward. This will indeed be an interesting development to follow post-COVID.”

Download the 2020 International Sports Federations Social Media Ranking

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.