McGregor, Joshua top social media adds for 2019

November 30, 2019

The Sports Business Journal unveiled its Combat Sports Special Issue this past week which included several interesting tidbits about the changing landscape of boxing.  One of the points it reported on was the importance of social media among combat sports athletes.

MVPIndex compiles the reach, engagement and conversation among 90,000 athletes.  This year, Conor McGregor took over the top spot in MMA from Khabib Nurmogomedov while Anthony Joshua retained the top spot among boxers.

Notably, McGregor has the most followers as well as earning the most added followers from the November-November timeframe in which this was tracked.

After McGregor’s gain of 4,324,629, Khabib Nurmogomedov gained 3,760,387 earning him second on the list for 2019.  Nate Diaz’s return to the Octagon earned him an additional 2,362,301 for this year.  Diaz is followed by Rose Namajunas and Israel Adesanya respectively.

Anthony Joshua drew over 4.6 million more followers this year despite his upset loss this past June to Andy Ruiz.  He’s followed by young, up and coming star Ryan Garcia with over 2.7 million followers.  Canelo Alvarez, Joseph Parker and Manny Pacquiao followed Garcia.

Payout Perspective:

I’m sure you are asking why does this matter.  Certainly, none of the followers or engagements (i.e., likes, favorites) are verified as actual followers.  It could be one’s social media team for all we know.  But the data compiled is a sign of the times.  In looking at social media, you are looking how much of an “influencer” you are for your industry or demographic.  One might think of this as the Kardashian effect in which a huge following (no matter what you do), could be monetized into something.  For personal brands, the number of social media followers along the multiple platforms such as twitter, Instagram and YouTube would be appealing to advertisers looking to have a single tweet from an influencer about a product or service could be much more revealing (depending on engagement, likes, responses) than a static ad.  For folks like McGregor and Joshua, its a great way to monetize your brand.  McGregor has advertised his Proper Twelve Whiskey on his social media channels.

For MMA, McGregor’s legal troubles outside of MMA may have been the cause for so many followers.  Khabib’s philanthropic efforts in addition to his one fight in Abu Dhabi this year probably helped with his following.

While social media may be an objective way of viewing popularity and marketability of an athlete, its clear that companies are viewing this metric when basing decisions.

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