Football is the all-American sport. Yes, even more than baseball. The TV ratings for this season is reaching the second-best since 1994 when Fox NFL was first aired. The Super Bowl, the NFL championship game, is the holy grail not only for the players, but also for advertisers who bring their best creative to the priciest 30-seconds spots on commercial TV. And this can only happen when there’s an enthusiastic audience to push it forward.

The NFL’s 2015-6 season is about to end soon and it’s a good time to look back and see which team managed to get their fans roar on social. We’ve analyzed each team’s performance and came back with surprising results and even one number that the NFL executives mustn’t ignore.

How we measured

For three months during the 2015-6 season, we monitored all the mentions of the teams on Twitter by their name, social handles, nicknames (e.g., “Niners” for the SF 49ers), and even specific matches (e.g., #MIAvsNYJ for the Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets). Here’s what we’ve found:

NFL Social Media Teams

The Most Talked-About Team

Above any other team stands the Green Bay Packers. The were mentioned 1.7 million times this season, 500k more than the second place. But wait, though the Packers knocked down any contenders, there’s a surprise in the runner-up.

First things first. The Packers were the most talked about team this season on Twitter. They manage to engage their fans with everything they can – giveaways, highlights from recent matches, unique hashtags (#GoPackGo), short vines, and team news.

Their 3 most shared tweets are a sideline hat giveaway competitions. Though gaining attention with giveaways might seem a bit obvious, it isn’t so common with other teams.

But the surprise hides in the 2nd place. The Philadelphia Eagles got to the second place with 1.2 million mentions. The thing is that the Eagles fan base is relatively small compared to any of the other top 5 most mentioned teams. The Packers got to the 1st place with the 4th biggest fan base. The Eagles reached the 2nd place with only the 11th biggest fan base.

Here are the top 5 most mentioned team this season:

Rank Team No. of Mentions
1 Green Bay Packers 1,700,000
2 Philadelphia Eagles 1,200,000
3 San Francisco 49ers 1,000,000
4 San Diego Chargers 1,000,000
5 Dallas Cowboys 950,000

NFL Biggest Fan Bases

The truthful cliche says that with big power comes great responsibility. And the Dallas Cowboys can tell us something about it. The Cowboys have the biggest fan base in the NFL – 11 million followers, 8m of them on Facebook, and the other 3m split equally on Twitter and Instagram. But though having many fans is great, what’s shared with them can be quite tricky. The team announced in December their new media rules, restricting reporters from sharing live tweets or live broadcasting from the locker room. What initiated the new policy was a video with hundreds of thousands of views showing Dez Bryant, the Cowboys wide receiver, getting pissed off at a reporter. That quickly escalated on social and the team decided to monitor such accidents and preventing them from being leaking.

On the bright side, the Cowboys social strategy keeps the classic strategy of football marketing, with many motion-captured images, victorious moves captures, and players in glamorized positions. This strategy get the team more engagement from their fans than team pictures or even games highlights. Here are the top 5 biggest fan bases of NFL teams: 

Rank Team Fan Base (m)
1 Dallas Cowboys 11.0
2 New England Patriots 10.1
3 Pittsburgh Steelers 8.5
4 Green Bay Packers 7.1
5 Seattle Seahawks 6.5
5 San Francisco 49ers 6.5

Most Engaged Fan Bases

Size of audience, by itself, doesn’t matter. You’re a marketer, you surely know that. So we measured the engagement’s levels of the NFL teams in correlation with their size. Surprising results here. The Carolina Panthers got the most engaging fans, though they’re not even in the top 10 biggest fan bases. Having a great season doesn’t hurt, but their funny moves and family-values images surely moves the needle. Whatever the reason may be, the Panthers is blessed with a devoted fan base that pushes the team on social and show their love whenever they can.

Here’s the top 5 most engaged fan bases:

Rank Team Engagment per Post / 1,000 Fans
1 Carolina Panthers 14.4
2 New England Patriots 12.3
3 Kansas City Chiefs 9.9
4 Buffalo Bills 9.2
5 Baltimore Ravens 8.8

The NFL Hidden Potential

As said earlier, football is nowadays the all-American sport. But the data shows that the NFL can see really nice growth overseas. While most of the mentions of the NFL teams on Twitter were by Americans, 5 teams showed interesting results.

The Green Bay Packers, The Philadelphia Eagles, The SF 49ers, the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys – all got 25% of their mentions from fans outside the US. As we saw on our monitors, there’s a great potential for these teams in the UK, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. 

How to Get the Audience’s Attention?

The season is almost over, and if the teams’ social managers need some inspiration for next season, we gathered some highlights to help the brainstorming.

Just remember, when life gives you lemons, beware of a lemonade drinking problem:

Catch fans go crazy.

Get mentioned by Donald Trump.

Photo-op with celebrity. Always works.

Have players with supernatural powers.

Learn to trash-talk. 

The Most Engaged Fan Bases of NFL Teams

Team Engagment per Post/1000 Fans Mentions (k) Fan Base Size (m)
Carolina Panthers 14.4 373.6 3.6
New England Patriots 11.9 439.7 10.1
Kansas City Chiefs 9.9 290.1 2.3
Buffalo Bills 9.2 638.1 1.4
Baltimore Ravens 8.8 155.2 3.6
Pittsburgh Steelers 8.5 668.5 8.5
Cincinnati Bengals 8.5 304.8 1.8
Los Angeles Rams 8.3 74.3 1.2
Dallas Cowboys 8.3 951.6 11.0
Philadelphia Eagles 8.0 1200 4.6
San Francisco 49ers 7.8 1000 6.5
Green Bay Packers 7.5 1700 7.1
Seattle Seahawks 7.5 408.2 6.5
Oakland Raiders 7.3 326.4 4.2
Arizona Cardinals 7.3 609.5 1.9
Washington Redskins 7.1 324.8 2.9
Minnesota Vikings 6.9 276.5 2.9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6.8 257.1 1.4
Houston Texans 6.7 219.2 3.5
Cleveland Browns 6.4 664.4 1.9
New York Jets 6.1 614.4 3.1
New York Giants 6.0 819.4 5.6
Denver Broncos 6.0 767.8 6.2
Indianapolis Colts 5.6 406.2 3.1
Miami Dolphins 5.6 466.6 3.1
Atlanta Falcons 5.4 405.8 2.8
Jacksonville Jaguars 5.4 224 1.0
Tennessee Titans 5.4 100.9 1.4
New Orleans Saints 5.3 156.6 5.4
San Diego Chargers 5.2 1000 2.2
Detroit Lions 4.6 444.2 2.8
Chicago Bears 4.5 325.9 5.4

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Guy Avigdor

Founder and COO at Klear. Helping people use data to do smarter marketing. Kitesurfer and violinist.

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