Euro 2016 was full of surprises – Portugal lifting the trophy, Wales making the semi-finals, Germany losing a penalty shoot-out… and… ahem… England taking the lead against Iceland.
Although Eder scored the winner in the final and Cristiano Ronaldo held the trophy aloft at the end, in terms of sports digital, Italy and Instagram took the honours.
As the excellent statistics from Result Sport show, the Azzuri led the League for follower growth throughout the Group Stage and the Round of 16 when all the major nations were still involved. France only overtook them on July 5 when they were about to play the semi-final and a few days after the Italians were out.
The Azzuri’s content was engaging, evocative and tapped into a spirit of regeneration. Their most popular Facebook post was the team’s emotional rendition of the national anthem at their hotel. It garnered 2.7 million views, 22,000 shares and 71,000 likes. They even got manager Antonio Conte to sing “Il Canto degli Italiani“ on Instagram.
Their early tournament call for GIFs from fans drew one of the more creative responses. While their graphics were bold and confident.
Of course, the effect of on-pitch performance is almost insurmountable when undertaking any analysis such as this. And remember, Italy started the tournament with a swagger. However they grew their overall following by 14 per cent despite going out in the quarter-finals. Like many of the major teams, half of that increase came via Facebook.
Overall teams grew their following by 30 per cent on that platform. Twitter went up by 57 per cent and You Tube 24 per cent. However Instagram was by far the biggest mover with competition teams growing their aggregate following by 131 percent.
Portugal, Poland, Wales, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Romania, Hungary all more than doubled their following. Northern Ireland started the tournament with less than 100 and ended up on 14,103. Meanwhile Iceland went from 6,500 to over 38,500.
Speaking of the England conquerors, their combined digital growth was 257 per cent and the raw figure was 113,481. That is 11th overall, a huge achievement relative to their size.
The other fairy story success was Wales. It seemed that the entire nation was determined to enjoy its first tournament since 1958. They tapped into national pride with a campaign to get as many good luck messages from Welsh schoolchildren. The results were incredibly cute.
Also the sheer delight of their run to the semi-finals was obvious for a team whose slogan on social media had been ”We Play for You”. They passed on the emotion via social to great effect.
Wales added 261,000 followers on Instagram, a leap of 69 per cent, and team in the tournament. Incidentally, the top 11 all saw Instagram grow in greater numbers than Twitter.
However there was a crumb of consolation for ‘the bird’ in the 144,000 followers accumulated by the official German account during Euro2016. This was more than any other team and Die Mannschaft now lead the Twitter table. It is perhaps a significant breakthrough for a country that, until a few years ago, was considered to dislike that particular platform. Now, seven of the top 10 Twitter personalities in Germany are members of the national team. Perhaps football has been at the heart of the change.
Curiously the German side has less than 5,000 followers on its YouTube channel. And the Google-owned video platform threw up the most interesting questions. For example why is Poland’s YouTube presence so strong? They put on 112,000 during the tournament and, with 284,000 subscribers, have more than any other team in the tournament apart from France. Also why does Hungary have more You Tube subscribers than Spain?
And, perhaps most importantly, why have Portugal not launched a YouTube page on the back of the tournament?
As I said, the downside of analyzing tournament figures is the overwhelming influence of the variable of success.
But, for the content creators, you have to ride the wave while you can.
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