Cristiano Ronaldo hits 50 million fans on Facebook

Portuguese and Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo is the first footballer to hit 50 million fans on Facebook. Ronaldo’s personal Facebook Page is the largest Page for any sports team, body or player on Facebook and currently ranks as the 13th most popular Facebook Page worldwide. Whilst Ronaldo’s competitor Leo Messi has the same number of La Liga goals this season, Ronaldo is some 12 million ahead in the social media stakes.

Ronaldo, who is rated as the 5th most marketable athlete in the world, has a Facebook Page growth of 1.6 million new Likes every month – more than a million more than Leo Messi’s growth.

At just 27, Ronaldo has a larger Facebook presence than the likes of Justin Bieber, Disney, Red Bull, Starbucks and even his own club Real Madrid. Ronaldo dwarves former Real Madrid star David Beckham who has just a measly 21 million – yeah, measly!

Does this mean anything though?

Many may state that whilst this is an impressive feat, what does it actually mean in terms of commercial value? Having such a massive Facebook value can definitely be used for financial gain. For example, Ronaldo commands a large percentage of Facebook users – this data, access and voice is invaluable to a brand who might want to sponsor Ronaldo. Therefore, Ronaldo should be using this as justification to command higher sponsorship fees.

Furthermore, life after football is always at the back of every players mind and with such a huge activated audience listening to every word – Ronaldo has essentially set himself up a platform to become his own publisher/media. Even when he is no longer playing, his opinion will be noticed and he will constantly be in the spotlight – thereby opening the doors to potential press opportunities. Above all else, Ronaldo – as many athletes have – can use it as a marketing platform to promote merchandise, books and clothing – thereby exploiting their fans for financial gain.

Of course – all the above isn’t possible without authentic social media engagement, so athletes should make sure that they don’t merely treat their fans as customers. Athletes need to be smarter – listen, engage and react when they are playing in order to develop those relationships as soon as possible.

Sean Walsh

Founder of and leading Football Social Media expert.

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