Manchester United have surpassed Barcelona and Real Madrid to become the world’s most popular club on social media, according to a report on Daily Mail.
The Red Devils are now the most popular club on social media thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo joining Manchester United last summer.
According to analysts, Manchester United have seen engagement with their social media content, such as shares, likes and comments, almost double to more than two billion interactions in just 12 months, even though they suffered on the pitch.
Ronaldo has a huge presence on social media – 465 million on Instagram, 151 million on Facebook and 101 million on Twitter – and experts have credited him for the remarkable upturn in Manchester United’s online fortunes.
Of the 25 most popular posts put out by Premier League clubs last season, 10 related to Ronaldo and the top three were all about the superstar striker.
At Manchester United, total engagements with social media posts increased from 1.1bn in the season before Cristiano Ronaldo arrived to more than 2bn, last term, with each post generating 75,000 interactions on average, according to Conviva via Daily Mail.
Manchester United have 170million followers on social media which lags behind Real Madrid at 281 followers and Barcelona at 267 followers.
However, while Manchester United had more than 2billion engagements on social media last season, Barcelona enjoyed 1.6bn engagements last season and Real Madrid 1.4bn.
As a result, the Red Devils have become the most popular club on social media worldwide, soaring above Barcelona and Real Madrid for the first time, in terms of engagement, according to Daily Mail.
“His commercial value will influence the club’s decision to let him go,” said Dr Rob Wilson, an expert in sports business at Sheffield Hallam University.
“United were not bothered about Paul Pogba leaving [to return to Juventus], but there will be bigger conversations behind the scenes about Ronaldo. This is more than just a game.
“It is signings like him that have kept them at the top table with regard to commercial development rather than slipping behind, which is what they should have done given their playing performance.”
“That is why Manchester United will not want to sell him. His market value as a player is less than his value as a commercial entity,” he added.
Dr Wilson said United’s latest commercial deal, securing, the global technology firm DXC as the shirt sleeve sponsor, in a multi-year deal worth £20M is an example of the ‘Ronaldo effect’.
“It is the single biggest shirt sleeve sponsorship in Premier League history,” said Dr Wilson as per Daily Mail. “And this is a team that finished sixth.
“What sponsors want is engagement, they are not bothered about followers. Engagement has exploded under Ronaldo.”
“The benefits of having a social savvy personality like Cristiano Ronaldo on your team exist beyond his football abilities,” Nick Cicero, VP of Strategy at Conviva, told Daily Mail.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed individual in the world for a number of reasons, but first and foremost it is the popularity of European football. No other sport in the world commands the engagement and following like the European football leagues.
“Combine that with a charismatic, outspoken and supremely talented individual like Cristiano and you have a recipe for social success.”