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Women’s World Cup: Who tops Hookit’s social media marketability rankings ahead of France 2019?

SportsPro’s official data partner, Hookit, lifts the lid on who is offering the most for their partners across social media ahead of the Women's World Cup.

7 June 2019 Joe Levy

All eyes trained on soccer for the next four weeks should be fixed upon the Fifa Women’s World Cup. In what promises to be the biggest and most watched edition of the quadrennial competition, more teams than ever are vying to lift the trophy in Paris come 7th July.

With more than 940,000 tickets being sold already across nine host cities and a litany of global broadcasters airing coverage, there has never been a more opportune moment for brands to market their products at the tournament.

With that in mind, Hookit, SportsPro’s official data partner has developed a definitive ranking of the most valuable athletes heading into the Women’s World Cup.

The Players

On first read US superstar Alex Morgan, a Women’s World Cup winner and Olympic gold medallist, is by far and away the most popular athlete heading into the tournament. Her total amount of followers of 12,794,322 trounces that of nearest competitor Carli Lloyd by some ten million.

Morgan also lays claim to the highest amount of interactions across her social media accounts, a metric which includes likes, comments and shares. At 21,796,921 interactions, even if you combined the number of interactions for the next five athletes on the list, it wouldn’t touch Morgan’s reach.

Broken down by individuals, the USWNT can also claim eight of its athletes featuring in the top ten in terms of followers, with all of them having more than one million each.

Morgan’s mass popularity, demonstrated by sponsorship deals with likes of Nike, AT&T and Coca-Cola, puts her at the pinnacle. Or so one would think.

Despite the hugely Morgan’s impressive reach, her engagement rate is only 0.33 per cent. In part due to her wildly superior number of followers, the ratio of engagement with her sponsored posts from followers is significantly lower than other athletes in the top ten.

Marta, Brazil’s captain and six-time world player of the year, boasts an engagement rate of 2.41 per cent for her 1,565,712 followers. In comparing the two stars, Morgan has posted 519 times whereas Marta has posted just 95 times but those posts have a greater impact, which should be a key consideration for marketers.

With a little over 500,000 fewer followers (1,015,883), Dutch star Lieke Martens boasts a whopping 5.16 per cent engagement rate, a trend more commonly associated with athletes with follower totals in the low 100,000s, pointing towards a great opportunity for brands looking for value for money in partners.

Cameroon, China, South Korea and Thailand all have seven or less athletes using social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube). Cameroon, South Korea and Thailand are also three of the teams out of the 15 who have no available data as a whole.

Whilst these athletes could engage on domestic social media platforms, such as Weibo in China, it demonstrates a lack of global presence from these athletes.

Brazil captain Marta (in the arms of goalkeeper Bárbara) boasts a significantly higher engagement rate on her social media posts than the likes of Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd

The Teams

Whilst individual athletes are hugely important in terms of marketing, national teams in themselves also represent good opportunities for brands.

The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT), three-time Women’s World Cup winners, lay claim to nearly 3.5 million followers and over 25 million interactions outstripping every other national team at the competition.

However, the engagement theme that has already cropped up raises its head again, with the USWNT recording only 0.32 per cent in that category.

England come out in first place in terms of engagement rate amongst national teams with a significant following (100,000+) hitting 0.82 per cent engagement across 212,503 followers.

Whilst these might sound like impressive statistics, it is worth noting that 15 out of the 24 nations have no available data by which to make a comparison as they do not have their own social media accounts, instead falling under their national association’s umbrella accounts that have greater affiliation to the men’s teams.

That in itself points to a deeper, more intrinsic issue. The 15 teams – which include debutants Scotland and 2015 host Canada – offer no direct touchpoint for fans of the women’s team, which is especially troubling as one of the cornerstones of this year’s competition is elevating the women’s game.

Australia are a good example for those of the belief that traction has to start somewhere. Despite a limited total social media following of 282,328, the Matildas have posted more than 5,500 times in the last year beating England out by more than 4,000 posts.

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