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Real Madrid star Ronaldo, Barcelona's Messi told to treat their social media fans better

He may boast a bigger population than Poland - but Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has been warned he's not the king of social media in the football world.

The former Manchester United ace has 5 million Twitter followers and an amazing 35 million friends on Facebook, while great rival Lionel Messi, the Barcelona superstar, enjoys a whopping 26 million Facebook friends. And both Ballon d'Or winners expect their social media following to increase even further with Ronaldo joining Tencent last month and attracting over 1 million followers in the first week. While Messi, who despite claims of him being reserved about his public profile, has just released his own personal logo!

To put the pull of these two football phenoms in perspective - the number of people registered with Ronaldo outstrip the populations of Poland and Argentina - and Messi is now not far behind.

But for all their amazing numbers, both players have been criticised by social media experts for not engaging with their fans as much as their teammates.

Indeed, social media sports company 'Comunicar es Ganar' rate Barcelona ace Cesc Fabregas and Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas ahead of Ronaldo and Messi in terms of value they give to their fans.

"A guy can have two or fifteen million followers, but that does not mean you have a more positive public image," says Yuri Morejon, director of 'Comunicar es Ganar'.

"The value of a player, and I mean his euro value, not only depends on how well he plays, but the communication that he is able to maintain. The internet is a great opportunity, but few take advantage of it."

Cesc (on Twitter) and Casillas (on Facebook) are the best in the Spanish Liga at using social networks to build a positive image, says Morejon.

He adds: "A good example was a few days ago when Fredi Kanoute of Sevilla and Cesc solved their problems on Twitter, directly, without intermediaries and in view of the entire world."

Morejon says even if a player isn't getting a game, he can still maintain a high-profile in the football world by engaging with fans on social media.

Esteban Granero, frozen out at Real Madrid, is a good example, says Morejon: "He escapes the clichés and that distinguishes you as a player."

Interestingly, research conducted by 'Comunicar es Ganar' shows while Real Madrid players boast a greater number of followers in the social media world, it is Barcelona which enjoy more positive comments - and by almost 25%.

The antics of Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol on Twitter are now famous - and they've now been joined by Cesc. 'Comunicar es Ganar' argue the enthusiasm with which Barca's players have taken to Twitter and Facebook has actually brought the dressing room closer together.

Spanish Liga Social Media Table:

1) Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): Facebook (35m), Twitter (5m)

2) Lionel Messi (Barcelona): Facebook (26m)

3) Kaka (Real Madrid): Facebook (11.7m), Twitter (6.6m)

4) Andres Iniesta (Barcelona): Facebook (8m), Twitter (1.8m)

5) Gerard Pique (Barcelona): Facebook (3m), Twitter (1.5m)

6) Carles Puyol (Barcelona): Facebook (1.7m), Twitter (1.6m)

7) Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid): Facebook (3.3m), Twitter (7.5k)

8) Iker Casillas (Real Madrid): Facebook (3.2m)

9) David Villa (Barcelona): Facebook (3.1m)

10) Arda Turan (Atletico Madrid): Facebook (1.9m), Twitter (21k)

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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