UPDATE: There is a a newer post on this topic here: The Most Popular NFL Teams on Twitter and Facebook: 2010 Season
The role of social media in professional sports is getting a lot of attention these days, unfortunately mostly in the form of teams and leagues trying to clamp down on it or players making mistakes with it.
Despite this, fans are passionately supporting and discussing their teams through a range of social media outlets, in particular Twitter and Facebook. Since we’re in the heart of football season, I thought I’d take a look at which NFL teams have the largest following on both sites.
In the table below the 32 NFL teams are ranked by the total number of followers/fans on their official Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. These figures obviously change quickly but this current snapshot is useful for comparison.
|Twitter followers||Facebook fans||Total|
|1||Pittsburgh Steelers||No official account||408,277||408,277|
|4||Indianapolis Colts||No official account||201,100||201,100|
|5||Green Bay Packers||11,220||185,577||196,797|
|6||New England Patriots||30,040||143,563||173,603|
|7||Philadelphia Eagles||No official account||170,114||170,114|
|8||Washington Redskins||No official account||170,114||170,114|
|9||San Diego Chargers||28,467||135,572||164,039|
|12||San Francisco 49ers||18,099||81,950||100,049|
|17||Kansas City Chiefs||9,950||55,862||65,812|
|18||New York Jets||15,822||48,290||64,112|
|22||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||4,694||39,468||44,162|
|27||Arizona Cardinals||No official account||32,836||32,836|
|28||St. Louis Rams||3,166||16,053||19,219|
|29||Dallas Cowboys||9,826||No official page||9,826|
|30||Carolina Panthers||5,208||No official page||5,208|
|31||New Orleans Saints||No official account||No official page||N/A|
|32||New York Giants||No official account||No official page||N/A|
Interestingly, despite no official presence on Twitter the Pittsburgh Steelers have the largest reach thanks to their large number of Facebook fans. I was also surprised that the Dallas Cowboys do not have an official Facebook page as they would certainly attract a significant number of fans.
I had expected all the teams to have more followers on Twitter. The San Diego Chargers lead the league with only 28K followers. (UPDATE: Thanks to Mike Blewitt for noticing that it is actually the New England Patriots that have the most Twitter followers at 30K+).
The New Orleans Saints and New York Giants are currently at the bottom of the social media heap with no official presence on either Twitter or Facebook. However an unofficial Saints page is very popular on Facebook with 163,760 fans.
Capturing data on only “official” accounts and pages was actually somewhat difficult (I welcome corrections if I’ve missed any). Twitter is a wild west for NFL teams right now – there are far more unofficial accounts, and even those that that claim to be official aren’t always actually so. Twitter should consider extending its “verified accounts” to team sites as well. On Facebook the official team pages are easier to identify, but they often face competition from other pages created by fans or local media. For several teams the unofficial pages have significantly more fans.
So the main takeaway is that NFL teams need to take better control of their social media presence and come up with more a cohesive engagement strategy. NFL fans are among the most passionate, so there is a great opportunity to leverage their loyalty and enthusiasm and further extend the relationships.