Barcelona’s 50m Instagram followers: Will the others ever catch up?

Spanish football giants FC Barcelona have become the first football club to reach 50m followers on social media platform Instagram.

It’s a huge landmark total and goes to underline that sport’s ubiquity on social media very much extends to Instagram as well as Facebook and Twitter.

That, in itself, is quite interesting. Over the last few months, Facebook and Twitter have been trying their hardest to attract sports rightsholders to stream their events live on their platforms and Twitter especially has been using its live-streaming platforms to cement its place as the home of breaking sports news and chat as well as campaigns like the #Pogba and #ElClasico emojis.

It makes sense that Twitter would take such a position, and it makes sense that it would be a favoured platform for sport. After all, it allows users to comment and chat in real time about events that take place live, or share ideas about the state of play. It allows for interaction between fans, clubs and players, too.

Instagram, however, is different. Although still allows for interaction with fans, just posting video and image content doesn’t seem as rich as the ability to share ideas and conversation. Instagram isn’t a place for breaking news, nor is it a place for conversation – it’s a place exclusively for interesting photos and videos.

And yet, Barcelona and Real Madrid especially are blazing a trail on the platform that no other football club can keep up with. Madrid are just behind Barca on 49m followers and will break that 50m mark pretty soon. Manchester United and Bayern Munich, on the other hand, are yet to break 20m on the platform.

It all goes to show that Instagram, as a platform, is increasingly popular, even if it’s only two clubs who seem to have a monopoly on the big numbers.And that might be a good sign for Twitter.

As it pins itself to sport and breaking news, a growing number of people seem content with following their clubs on Instagram, or at least getting consuming quite a bit of content on that platform, too. The good news, though, is that if glamour clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid are so far ahead of the rest, you wonder whether it has more to do with celebrity than sport fandom: a case of keeping an eye on Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo rather than keeping abreast of sports news.

Still, 50m is a lot of followers, especially for a few photos of smiling players in training and a few videos of tasty skills – even if it is all about the celebrity. Will the others ever catch up? Or is the lead now just too big?

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 211 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and a regular contributor to Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan91

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