Mayweather/Pacquiao. Who won the online fight?

Last weekend saw what will prove to be one of the biggest and most lucrative boxing fights in history as Floyd Mayweather managed to beat Manny Pacquiao on points at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.


The bout itself lasted just under an hour, but it was in the time leading up to and after the event itself that allowed social media to flex its muscles in a way that it hasn’t done before.


Mayweather may have won the fight inside the ring, but who won it on our social media accounts?


Whilst social media isn’t new to the world of sport, in fact, becoming an integral part to the way we consume sport in an online era, a boxing event of this magnitude was certainly a new area of opportunity. There are areas social media can enter with boxing that it wouldn’t normally be able to with other sports.


Boxing is unashamedly accepting of extreme and persistent advertising to an extent that other sports wouldn’t be (a point proved by Pacquiao’s love of chocolate brand ‘Butterfinger’ all of a sudden). Boxing fans expect multiple endorsements before and after a bout, which allows for more a more direct advertising approach on social media without fear of pushing away subscribers or users.


As well as huge advertising opportunities, a boxing event isn’t just the fight in the ring. It’s the hype, the build-up, the weigh-in, the press conferences, the fall-out, all of which can provide a whole host of online material. The content posted then in turn helps with the anticipation and hype that boxing prides itself in generating, creating a scenario where the two compliment each other and continue to grow and grow.


The Twitter data for the fight proves just how powerful social media can be. During the seven hours before, during and after the fight, Tweets posted about the event were seen a staggering 2.7 billion times on Twitter and across the web. Around 387 million tweets an hour.


Over on Facebook during that same period, 115 million posts were sent by over 37 million people. Taking into consideration those that used both Twitter and Facebook to post about the fight, the overall involvement and interaction of users across the two platforms was extraordinarily high.


So what about the boxers themselves?


Both use social media in very different ways. Mayweather, as you’d imagine by his in-ring style, has a very professional and business like method to his accounts. A lot of promotion, a lot surrounding boxing and not much else. Whereas Pacquiao will post much more freely, allowing more of an insight into his personal life as well as the boxing side of things.


The Mayweather Twitter and Facebook account decided to mostly use the platform to promote ‘Shots’, a new social media account that allows users to post and share ‘selfies’ of themselves onto the app. Considering the boxer has financially backed the company, it makes sense for him to use his influence and large amount of followers to promote his business venture.


Pacquiao confirmed his more open approach to social media and was active throughout the night. The highlight being a ‘selfie’ on the way to the ring, a stunt that achieved over 210,000 retweets and favourites on Twitter, by far his most interacted post around the fight.


A similar feat before the weigh-in a few days before the bout saw Pacquiao post another ‘selfie’ on Facebook and Instagram, resulting in over 1.3 million likes across both platforms. This proved to be his most popular post on both Facebook and Instagram to date as well as smashing through anything that Mayweather posted up on either site through his own official accounts.


To put Pacquiao’s impressive social media numbers into perspective, Mayweather has alomst double the amount of followers and fans across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, with the former having 13.15 million online fans compared to Mayweather’s incredible 23.95 million followers.


In the end though, it was Pacquiao’s personal approach which won him the online fight. Before the event on Saturday, he had 9.86 million fans across the three platforms, resulting in a gain of 3.29 million fans in under a week. Mayweather also managed to gain new fans with 2.77 million new followers in the same period of time, some 500,000 behind his foe.


A small victory for Pacquiao on an incredibly large scale.