By now, you’ve heard the tale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s heroics on Saturday. Coming on as a substitute for Sebastian Lleget in the 71st minute down 3-1 to cross-city rivals LAFC, Zlatan led his LA Galaxy side to a 4-3 win in the first-ever “El Trafico” derby courtesy of a 77th minute screamer from 40 yards out and a 90th minute header just seconds into stoppage time to secure his place in MLS legend only 19 minutes into his Major League Soccer career.
As impressive as his on-field performance may have been, his greatest feat on Saturday may have been his ability to generate conversation about himself, LA Galaxy and the league as a whole.
Source: Nielsen Social
Ibrahimovic’s performance dominated the sports social chatter for the weekend, eclipsing both Men’s Final Four games and the buzzer beater finish of the Women’s Basketball National Championship. According to Nielsen Social, the Los Angeles FC vs LA Galaxy match on Fox received a total of 1.987m interactions, with the most coming from Instagram (782k), followed by Facebook (712k) and Twitter (493k). It’s also worth noting that MLS YouTube has seen a considerable growth in impressions based on his one goal. On Saturday evening, it was YouTube’s #1 trending video in the US. Moreover, the same video, which has amassed 4.4 million views as of the writing of this blog post, is the 2nd highest viewed video on MLS’ YouTube channel. One behind a goal scored by none other than David Beckham.
His 77th-minute rocket alone generated over 61k retweets, 104k likes and 63k responses on @MLS’ highlight video tweet.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 31, 2018
No doubt Carlos Vela’s first-half brace for LAFC also helped to propel the numbers, but at the end of the day, all eyes were on The Lion.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 31, 2018
Zlatan w/ a beauty
— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) March 31, 2018
I love that so much. Thank you #zLAtan
— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) March 31, 2018
ZLATAN taking over @MLS
— Goran Dragić (@Goran_Dragic) March 31, 2018
The world certainly seemed to be watching. Dan Stelly, Social Media Manager for Major League Soccer, joked on Twitter “We just hit our social media metrics goals for the year in about 15 minutes. Thanks, Zlatan!” While this tweet was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, the numbers from Zlatan’s debut are staggering compared to the rest of March for all of MLS’ and LA Galaxy’s social media channels. The Zlatan Effect seems to be very, very real.
Major League Soccer
Source: Blinkfire Analytics
MLS gained 8k new followers on March 31st, Zlatan’s debut. While the number of new followers on Instagram and Facebook were substantially higher than the rest of March on Zlatan’s debut as well, the following day saw massive growth in 17k new likes on Facebook and 27k new Instagram followers.
Source: Blinkfire Analytics
LA Galaxy gained 7k new followers the day of Zlatan’s debut. Like MLS, LA Galaxy saw the most growth on their Facebook and Instagram the day after, with 163k (!) new Facebook likes and 80k new Instagram followers on April 1st.
It appears MLZ is here to stay. You’re welcome, Los Angeles.
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) April 1, 2018