Cristiano Ronaldo vs Mario Balotelli – The Facebook growth battle

This tournament the social media facts and stories about Cristiano Ronaldo have been difficult to comprehend.

From top supermodels discussing his greasy black hair on Twitter to having a social media following larger than 9 of the countries at the tournament.

Cristiano’s social media presence is unmatched by any footballer (flirting around the 57 million mark) and is continuously increasing at a rate of 5,000 new Facebook ‘likes’ / Twitter ‘followers’ every hour.

But this Thursday we finally saw the Portuguese Galactico dethroned (albeit on an hourly growth basis) by Italy’s new national hero: Mario Balotelli.

His two first half goals – the second a wonder strike – were enough to break many a German heart and send the favourites back home whilst Italy progress to a showdown with Spain tomorrow.

And what correlated within social media for Mario Balotelli’s was the largest growth we have seen for any footballer so far.

There is no official Mario Balotelli Twitter account, but during the game there was an increase of 18,811 Facebook likes for his official page.

This is a colossal 7,000% more than his previous average in the tournament!

Even more interesting is that his hourly increase since the semi-final win jumped from 177 to 3,021 – 37% higher than a certain Cristiano Ronaldo currently has.

Balotelli breezed past 800,000 Facebook ‘likes’ at the stroke of midnight on 30 June, and there is an outside chance this figure could surpasses 1 million come Sunday’s finale against Spain.

Mario Balotelli is the epitome of footballing marmite. Some people love him; most people hate him. He is arguably the most talented young striker in the world, but, frankly speaking, is an uncontrollable nut job.

Yet at just 21, with social media and football beginning to become more aligned than ever before, it does beg the question if Super Mario can ‘grow up’ and fulfil the extraordinary talent he has been given, his off-field commercial value & presence within the social space could eventually eclipse that of any footballer in the world.

And that’s scary thought for someone that sets off fireworks in his bathroom for a bit of banter…