The Biggest UEFA Euro 2016 Players on Social Media

June 21, 2016

Written by NewsWhip

As the Euros heat up, we dive into which players are building the biggest buzz and the content trends behind some of the biggest stories.

We’re almost two weeks into this year’s UEFA Euro 2016 championships and we decided to look at which players are driving the most buzz on social.
Using NewsWhip data, we calculated the total number of Facebook interactions and Twitter shares for the star athletes.
Here’s who’s currently dominating the conversation on social.

top UEFA 2016 players

These are the top ten players right now for the Euros. Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t a surprise being at number one; he does, after all, have 112.47 million Facebook fans to the Portugal National Football team’s 1.75 million. His social interactions are nearly double that of the second player. 
Luka Modric and Gareth Bale took second and third, respectively. Modric is a star addition to the Croatian national team, while Gareth Bale is the same for Wales. Outside of the Euros, these three top players all play for Real Madrid.
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It’s no surprise Real Madrid’s superstars get love beyond the team. The above post saw over 1.74 million total Facebook interactions.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also not a surprise to see so high in the Euro 2016 rankings, another household name. While Ibrahimovic, Bale, and Ronaldo are very well-known, the other players here have hard earned their spots in the rankings.
Modric’s place at number two is interesting. While a renowned player and well-recognized, he doesn’t have the same star appeal as Bale and Ronaldo.
James Vardy, though in sixth place overall, had more shares and comments than both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Dmitri Payet. Jamie, didn’t start any games but recently came off the bench and scored, getting big acclaim. While not as globally known, he has cult hero status for his team, along with a recent title win and record breaking season with Leicester City.
Meanwhile Payet has become a revelation both this season and in this tournament. Underdogs with real athletic prowess create a story that hungry fans are eager to watch.
Let’s pivot to check out what the top headlines were.

top stories UEFA players 2016

No Such Thing as Bad Publicity?

The top article about Cristiano Ronaldo during the Euros thus far is a critical article from the Guardian about negative comments Ronaldo made toward the Icelandic national team.
The story drove over 19,700 likes, 2,900 shares, and 3,800 comments on Facebook, and over 2,450 shares on Twitter. In fact, this event was the subject of four of the top 20 most engaging articles.

The third most-engaging article in our rankings also wasn’t positive news for Ronaldo. It compared his performance in the tournament to his rival, Lionel Messi, who is currently playing in Copa America.
For a player as big as Ronaldo, any news can be compelling to die-hard fans. Ronaldo was the subject of eight of the top 20 articles, showing that bad or good, he’s golden for social media engagement.

The Hype and the Let-Down Engagement Bubble

content breakdown Euro Players

We further categorized the top 25 posts into what sort of content they were. Did they build up pregame hype? Provide an analysis of players? Just some basic news, or fuel the gossip mill?
While we found that 20% of the top 25 did contribute to gossipy topics, like Cristiano Ronaldo and the Iceland incident, over a third had to do with creating some excitement before the big games.
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The second top-engaging article was an article from Chelsea FC about Eden Hazard. Following a poor season with Chelsea, all eyes were on Belgian star Hazard ahead of the Euros. The club was sure that Hazard, a key player for them, would score some massive wins for Belgium.
The article got 28,196 likes, 108 shares, and 272 comments. However, Hazard and Belgium’s subsequent defeat was the fourth most-engaging article, showing that the let-down after huge hype can also propel engagement.

Satire Sparks Shares

Though only the 12th highest engaging article, this farcical article about Gareth Bale having to miss the rest of the Euros, has had the most Facebook shares and Facebook comments.
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Articles like this can spur strong engagement from those who are laughing at its humor, or those who might be duped into believing the joke is actually true.
The article drove over 4,100 shares, 6,800 likes, and 5,800 comments across Facebook.
We see similarly strong engagement from publishers like the Onion, whose satirical articles drive social interactions both from amused readers and those misled by their content.

What Sports Publishers and Social Teams Should Know

Although we’re still early in the Euros, there are some content trends we can glean from the top performing articles already.
The soccer superstars also are likely to be social media superstars, like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Fans who follow these athletes closely are very invested in their stories.
Storytelling is another huge aspect. It creates the chance for less recognized athletes to become acclaimed globally, based on triumphs.
Building pre-game buzz or harking on rivalries can rev up fans who are emotionally invested in certain players or teams. And poking a bit of fun, whether it’s through satirical journalism or some player gossip, can create fun content that people want to share.
We’ll be watching which players continue to dominate this year’s Euros, and bring you more content insights.

Want to do some digging on trends yourself? Take a free trial of Spike and find the content exciting soccer fans now


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