Football clubs rely heavily on social media for keeping in touch with their fans. In the past, clubs relied on traditional media like television and radio to reach their public, but now they can communicate directly using their own social media channels. So, which player is the current social media champion?

Top earners

The Sport Bible recently published an overview of how much money some (former) football stars earned last year through their Instagram accounts. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, striker for LA Galaxy, raked in nearly €3.6 million (£3 million). Neymar, the famous forward for PSG and the Brazilian national team, scored nearly twice that amount with around €6.6 million (£5.1 million) in Instagram revenues. Football legend David Beckham did pretty well for himself as well on Instagram, bringing in around €10 million (£8.5 million).

A battle for the top spot

Anyone with a passing knowledge of football today probably has a pretty good guess at who took home the number 1 and 2 spots on Instagram. You guessed it: it was long-time rivals Lionel Messi of Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. Messi’s Instagram posts scored him a cool €21 million last year. But it was Cristiano Ronaldo who came out on top. With 186 million followers on Instagram, the Portuguese star cashed in at €43.5 million (£37 million). That’s even more than he earns from his contract with Juventus!

Social media football players

Ajax Amsterdam

If you’ve checked your Facebook lately, you’ve probably seen the video: at the beginning of this year, Ajax faced off in the Champions League against 13-time winners Real Madrid. The Spanish team is a major media sensation, both in print and online. So, the marketing department at Ajax came up with an idea to promote the match, creating a video called ‘Your dreams are now’. Funny enough, the video had actually been made to promote a match between Ajax and its local rival, Feyenoord Rotterdam. But when Ajax saw that it had drawn Real Madrid, they knew the right moment had come.

The Amsterdam team went on to defeat Real Madrid both at home and away, which also sent their social media numbers sky-rocketing! The club’s biggest social media gains were on Instagram.

In the Netherlands, Ajax is the undisputed champion when it comes to social media, with a combined 8,177,456 followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Trailing far behind in second place is PSV, with a total of 1,717,435 followers. And in third place is Feyenoord with 1,459,339 followers. Ajax managed to add 2 million new followers in 2019 alone, bolstered in part by its recent successes on the European level. Other Dutch teams can only hope to emulate Ajax by winning big in Europe and on social media. The goal is to gain more clout among their international fanbases online.

Who’s the champion?

Here’s a list of the ten football clubs with the biggest social media followings:

Social media onderzoek

This is the perfect setting for Ajax to release their ‘Your dreams are now’ video for its face-off with Real Madrid. Our hats go off to the marketeers at Ajax!

Social media Real Madrid


Here are some outstanding tweets posted by football clubs. In the Netherlands, one club reigns supreme on Twitter: Telstar.

Back in 2016, Anwar El Ghazi and Nemanja Gudelj were transferred back to the Ajax reserve team, Jong Ajax.

Self-deprecating humour?

AS Roma tweeted this:

Their marketing team just could not help themselves after the team beat FC Barcelona 3-0 on their own turf. Manolas scored with a header in the final seconds of the match, catapulting AS Roma into the Champions League ahead of Messi and Co. With an astonishing 162,900 retweets, this was easily one of the most retweeted tweets in football history!