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Tom Grennan

Oxford Brookes: Lionesses win generates 10 times fewer social media engagements than men's

PIC: Zac Goodwin / PA

Researchers are calling for a social media strategy to generate more online interest in women's sport.

The Lionesses historic victory in the Women's Euros generated 10 times fewer social media engagements, compared to the men's final last year.

That's according to new analysis by Oxford Brookes, which says despite the event breaking TV and attendance records, social platforms aren't doing enough to help raise the profile of the women's game.

More than 17 million viewers tuned in to see England's historic win over Germany and 87,192 fans watched it live at Wembley Stadium.

Working with colleagues in Portsmouth, the Oxford Brookes team found that the Women's Euros generated 371,000 tweets about the final last month.

The men's final in 2021 generated significantly more, over 2 Million tweets.

Analysis monitoring the activity on Twitter of the hashtag #Euro2020final revealed the huge engagement surrounding England's defeat was largely driven by the online racist abuse experienced by Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.

Dr Nicole Ferdinand, Senior Lecturer in Events Management at Oxford Brookes University, said: "Perhaps the most important distinction between the two sets of data is the absence of a major social media event this year, which could become a lightning rod for retweets and reactions.

"In the case of the Euro 2020, this came in the form of the online abuse aimed at England's Black players which was met with swift and widespread condemnation. One could perhaps argue that the victory in itself which finally 'brought football home' should have done this, but it did not have that resonance."

Dr Ferdinand and her Portsmouth colleague Dr Williams believe the data has highlighted some clear differences that could potentially be studied and perhaps form the basis of a social media strategy which would generate greater levels of online interest in women's sporting events.

They recommend a two-pronged approach of firstly, crafting "off the pitch" stories which affect Twitter users at a primal level so that they trigger reactions and retweets and secondly, deliberately courting the online attention of mainstream media who are critical actors in social media networks.

"Mainstream media involvement is often what causes an online media event to become viral and cross over to become mainstream news", added Dr Ferdinand.

"When this happens the number of social media users tweeting about women's sporting events will dramatically increase which in turn will translate into the volume of social media traffic generated getting to a level which is comparable to what is generated during men's events."

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