Social Media can be the catalyst for success by empowering people and fueling ideas. We have all seen the good and the bad that can come from Social Media. But regardless if you are a casual user, have your mobile device attached to the hip so you can instantly access your social media profile(s) or don’t use social media at all, there is no denying the impact that Social Media has had on both our culture and on industries around the world.
Similarly, it is also transforming sports and sports businesses.
Hookit conducted a study exclusively for Forbes on the world’s biggest sports stars. The Solana Beach, California-based firm started with the universe of the 100 athletes from Forbes’ annual look at the highest-paid athletes. Hookit measured interactions and video views across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter from the athletes’ personal social media accounts for posts with hashtags, mentions or images in photos/videos of sponsors. Hookit measures account promotion type and quality and applies market-driven costs per interaction and platform to deliver a dollar value for each post.
Here is the list of world’s top ten athletes by social media value conversion:
10. Conor Mcgregor
The first MMA fighter to crack into the Forbes top 100 highest paid athletes list at #85 with $22 million and was even higher in 2017, tied at #24 with $34 million in total earnings. Conor posted sponsored content for 79 times which was valued around $15.5 million for the sponsor.
9. LeBron James
King James as we know it has accumulated considerable wealth and fame from numerous endorsement contracts. His public life has been the subject of much scrutiny, and he has been ranked as one of America’s most influential and popular athletes. James’ 65 social media posts with sponsor logo had 252,325 interactions and earned media value of around $17.4 million.
8. Virat Kohli
The only Indian, and also the lone cricketer, on this list is Virat Kohli. The captain bold of Indian cricket team is a great influence with his social life. Kohli’s decision to refuse Pepsi endorsement became the talk of the town. Kohli posted 62 times with a sponsor logo and helped the brands garner around $31.1 million by getting 344,929 interactions on those posts.
7. Zlaltan Ibrahimovic
The controversial Sweden footballer has been on social media guards for his absurd comments and arrogant stature. However, this has also helped him gain many followers over social media. His 68 posts made $32.7 million for the sponsors, just $1.6 million above Kohli.
6. James Rodriguez
James became one of the most expensive transfers from AC Milan to Real Madrid. The Real Madrid winger has around 76.2 million total followers. He posted 109 times with sponsored content which helped the sponsors garner over $43.4 million.
5. Lionel Messi
The legendary footballer known for its playing style, has more followers on social media than any other athlete and is just behind fellow Barca player Neymar and rival Ronaldo. However, he just made 146 sponsored posts and delivered $55.9 million media value.
4. Gareth Bale
Renowned for his ball striking from distance, swerving free kicks, and his ability to get past defenders with pace, Bale has around 70.4 million followers. He made 163 post with sponsor logos and was able to deliver $65.1 million of media value.
3. Usain Bolt
Track star Usain Bolt is the only non-soccer player to crack the top seven. Bolt’s total social media following of 31 million fans can’t match the top soccer players, but the interactions on his posts are sky-high when a sponsor is involved. His 194 sponsor-branded posts were worth $68.1 million as per Hookit.
2. Neymar Jr.
The 25-year-old Neymar is already a popular pitchman for brands like Nike, Gillette, Red Bull, Panasonic and Beats. Neymar’s 255 social media posts with sponsor images or mentions produced $125 million in media value on 160 million interactions and video views over the last year.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Surpassing every value of the athletes above Ronaldo’s value is a combination of heavy usage of social media and the largest following of any athlete. He posted 580 times with a sponsor mention or logo and tallied 927 million interactions (likes, comments, shares) and video views on his sponsored posts for an average per post value of $1.6 million for his sponsors. Also, becoming the top athlete in terms of media value, garnering over $935 million for sponsors.