Ealier this month, we reported on the leading athlete-driven leagues of 2018. Our recap featured eight of the most powerful sports leagues in North America, all with one thing in common — their athletes create serious impact on social.

Here, we take a look at the familiar faces within those leagues who keep fans coming back for more.

It’s understood that fans go wild for athlete-driven content. With the right tools and support, these individuals have the ability to drive unmatched social conversation and engagement.

The athletes listed below have embraced their unique platform to build their brands beyond the lines of their sport.

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@mickeymouse and Goofy

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The data in this report offers a look at how the top athletes perform as individuals on social, measuring their audience, activity, engagement, and growth.

With over 111 million followers across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, LeBron comfortably leads all players in total audience size. Meanwhile, Zlatan held onto second place ahead of fellow European league transfer, Wayne Rooney. 

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We’ll be good... ??

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There’s no denying the impact that perennial powers like LeBron, Zlatan, and Steph Curry can have with their audience. However, several of 2018’s top athletes were up-and-comers like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kyle Kuzma, who posted the two highest growth rates and sit near the top in several other categories.

While these young stars lack the audience size of the experienced vets, each claims strong growth and engagement, while ranking near the top in terms of quality content activity (posts including photos or video). 

Top 100 athletes on social

Below is our 2018 analysis of the 100 most-followed athletes in North American professional sports. The ranking includes data for each athlete from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.

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Total Audience
  • LeBron James  — 111.1 million followers
  • Zlatan Ibrahimović  — 67.9 million followers
  • Wayne Rooney  — 55.4 million followers
  • Steph Curry  — 44.5 million followers
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr. — 43.8 million followers
  • Kevin Durant — 38.1 million followers
  • Dwyane Wade — 31 million followers
  • David Villa — 28.2 million followers
  • Serena Williams — 26.6 million followers
  • Bastian Schweinsteiger  — 23.8 million followers
Total Activity
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr.  — 1,526 posts
  • Dwyane Wade  — 1,353 posts
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster  — 1,209 posts
  • Russell Wilson  — 1,143 posts
  • Antonio Brown — 1,135 posts
  • Isaiah Thomas — 1,053 posts
  • Damian Lillard  — 1,051 posts
  • Dez Bryant  — 1,040 posts
  • Richard Sherman  — 896 posts
  • Kyle Kuzma  — 863 posts
Total Engagements
  • LeBron James  — 272.3 million engagements
  • Odell Beckham Jr.  — 126 million engagements
  • Zlatan Ibrahimović  — 115 million engagements
  • Steph Curry  — 88.5 million engagements
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr.  — 80.1 million engagements
  • Serena Williams  — 77.6 million engagements
  • Dwyane Wade  — 61 million engagements
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster  — 59.1 million engagements
  • Tom Brady  — 55.3 million engagements
  • Antonio Brown  — 53.3 million engagements
Engagement Rate
*min 52 posts
  • Alex Ovechkin  — 6.46%
  • Kyle Kuzma  —  5.73%
  • Tom Brady  — 5.73%
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo — 5.30%
  • Ben Simmons  — 5.24%
  • Joel Embiid  — 5.04%
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster  — 4.78%
  • Ezekial Elliott  — 4.23%
  • Lonzo Ball  — 3.75%
  • Aaron Rodgers  — 3.65%
Total Growth
  • LeBron James — 13.1 million followers
  • Zlatan Ibrahimović  — 6.9 million followers
  • Steph Curry  — 6.4 million followers
  • Serena Williams  — 3.7 million followers
  • Odell Beckham Jr. — 3.1 million followers
  • Russell Westbrook — 3 million followers
  • James Harden — 2.8 million followers
  • Lonzo Ball — 2.4 million followers
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr. — 2.4 million followers
  • Kyle Kuzma — 2.1 million followers
Growth Rate
  • Kyle Kuzma  — 211.79%
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster  — 207.53%
  • Ben Simmons  — 79.16%
  • Joel Embiid  — 69.44%
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo  — 62.96%
  • Daniel Cormier  — 55.74%
  • Lonzo Ball  — 48.61%
  • Antonio Brown  — 28.52%
  • Tristan Thompson  — 26.95%
  • Karl-Anthony Towns  — 25.40%