How Does Swimming Stack Up? Competing Against Other Sports On Social Media

If you are reading this article or even on this website, then you must have some passing interest in swimming. You care enough to spend your time perusing articles to find information about the sport that could help you perform better, learn about the goings-on in the swimming community or just see how correct (or wrong) the SwimSwam staff can select the finishing order at championship meets.

But when you’re scrolling through social media, how much swimming do you see? What about diving? Or artistic swimming and water polo? Do you watch any clips of it? Do you interact with it? Does your interaction have any meaning outside of that hit of instant gratification or could your interaction help grow the sport?

Redtorch, a London-based research and ad agency, seems to think that you can do just that. The company states on its website that its one goal is to: Provide rights holders, brands and sponsors with marketing services of superior value and effectiveness, while offering the best client service in Olympic sport.

Redtorch works directly with several of the largest Olympic sports governing bodies—World Aquatics is among their many clients. The list also includes the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), World Athletics and the International Skating Union (ISU).

But how does this relate to you, the social media user? Redtorch compiles rankings based on their #SportOnSocial Tracker, a proprietary technology that analyzes the social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok) of all of the Olympic sports International Federations (IF). The tech compiles the total fans, the follower growth, engagement rate and views per video. Using these and other factors, it then ranks the IFs accordingly in what they call the #SportOnsSocial League Table.

This year’s edition, the seventh in the company’s history, ran for the 2022 calendar year, which included both the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest and the Short Course World Championships in Melbourne. World Aquatics placed seventh out of 40 International Federations, a three-spot jump up from the 2021 League Table.

The top three in the rankings were Volleyball World, followed by FIFA and World Athletics. World Aquatics did take some accolades home, placing first in the Facebook category, just like last year, ranking ahead of Volleyball World and the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique.

The League Table shows that Twitter held the most posts of the five social media platforms, TikTok had the most video views, and Instagram had the most engagements as well as the highest follower growth. Interestingly, World Aquatics was not in the top 10 of any of those social media platforms as ranked by Redtorch.

So, what does this information mean to you, the consumer and user of social media?

The CEO of Redtorch wrote how important it is to continue to grow their audiences in order to push Olympic sports to the next level.

“It’s our belief at Redtorch that if Olympic Federations are to remain relevant and compete for audiences in the future, they must improve their connections beyond sport in areas of culture and important issues,” said CEO Jonny Murch. “Sports that position themselves in people’s minds to have meaning beyond elite competition are certain to grow.”

Maybe it means that swimming videos and content perform well on established platforms like Facebook, or maybe World Aquatics needs to be better at approaching its digital footprint on other platforms.

Maybe it means this ranking fails to take into consideration other aquatic-oriented groups, like USA Swimming or LEN (European Aquatics). Or MAYBE it means that yours truly, SwimSwam, helps fill that gap.

If you want to look at the league table yourself and see the full methodology, it can be found here.

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Steve Nolan
3 months ago

Swimming feels almost uniquely poorly-positioned for clips on social media when it comes to most sports.

3 months ago

Watching people go after one another in the media has always been a popular spectator sport – Real Housewives of Wherever, Jerry Springer, and on and on. A bit like junk food – we know it’s not good for us, but we can’t stay away. Thanks for circulating another example, Tracy.

3 months ago

I really think USA Swimming and/or FINA should really push to monetize the sport 3 months to 6 months after the Olympics conclude. I understand some swimmers may not want to forfeit well-deserved vacations for endorsement opportunities, but I am positive a lot would.

From a US perspective, it could even be as simple as a US tour with meet and greats – take a picture with and shake the hand of a US Olympian. It would need to be well-marketed to get the more “passive” fans aware it is going on.

Reply to  RealSlimThomas
3 months ago

Pop stars used to make BIG money touring the US and meeting their fans at malls. I could see a “band” of Olympians touring the country while their names and success are fresh in the public’s eye bringing in some money.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  RealSlimThomas
3 months ago

Would that work?

I mean, I suppose it’s worth it to try, but feel like people really only care about swimming because “it’s the Olympics and it’s on” and once the Olympics wrap up, the interest evaporates.

You’d for sure get the die-hards and a decent number of new folks, but not sure how many people it would really convert long-term to make it worthwhile.

SuperSwimmer 2000
Reply to  RealSlimThomas
3 months ago

After the 2004 Olympics, Phelps, Crocker and Krayzelburg did a tour like this. Remember? No?

3 months ago

Social media is so tiresome.

Summer is Titmus’ Sleep Paralysis Demon
3 months ago

Pickle Ball is more popular than swimming.

3 months ago

How about in television ratings at the Summer Olympics?

Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
3 months ago

Gymnastics number 1? Was not expecting that.