Road to the NFL Playoffs: Winners Win on Social Media

iMediaConnection recently featured this article by Rosetta’s own Matt Nguyen. The original piece can be found here.

For some of us, nothing says “The Holidays” quite like Christmas Day football and an epic battle for the NFL playoffs. With the playoffs right around the corner, your carols might be disrupted by trash talking fans engaging in their own holiday traditions. A good cross-section of this joyous celebration can be seen by taking a short troll stroll through ESPN article comments or doing a search on social media. ‘Tis the season for fan engagement!

But do all those hashtags coupled with expletives contribute to a social media victory? According to Twitter data of the top 5 and bottom 5 teams through Week 15 of the NFL season, it does.

A Winning Trend

In comparing the top 5 (Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, and Philadelphia Eagles) and bottom 5 NFL teams (New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) on Twitter, there are some notably common trends throughout the season:


  • Social media engagement with fans on Twitter is the highest during the first 3 weeks of the season, with a mid-season shift.
  • Top 5 teams maintain Twitter engagement throughout the season, with a slight upward trend of 0.83%.
  • Bottom 5 teams’ social media engagement goes in the opposite direction, trending downward at a rate of about 12% since season start.
  • At week 8 (about halfway through the NFL season) the upward and downward trends are amplified. Winning teams start to pick up steam with social media engagement, whereas bottom teams see a significant drop-off in mentions when fans figure out the likelihood their team will make the playoffs…or not.


Bandwagoning on Twitter

Twitter follower counts from the beginning of the season through Week 15 show the top 5 teams were able to double their follower count:

  • The top 5 teams had a 14% increase in follower count from the beginning of the regular season to the end of Week 15.
  • The bottom 5 teams only had about a 7% increase.


According fan engagement data on Twitter and Twitter follower changes, there is a clear correlation between winning teams and a more engaged fan base on social media. Winning spurs excitement, and thus increased fan engagement. Fans love to work toward a goal, and there is no better goal than to rally around a winning team vying for a championship.

So how can you translate #winning into winning social media content?

1) Don’t Pump Fake

Fans are part of your team, so give them a peek at the playbook. NFL teams frequently engage with fans on wins, losses, injuries, trades and personnel changes. Fans want to know about the good, the bad and the ugly. By being transparent with your fan base, you establish a sense of trust with your online community.

Arizona Cardinals Social Media

The Arizona Cardinals tweet out their player injury report prior to the game against the St. Louis Rams.


2) It’s a Full Contact Sport

The best way to rally your fans is to jump right into the conversation and stir it up! Find opportunities to engage with your fans and show that you like them. Whether that is favoriting their tweet or replying to a question, take the opportunity to engage with your fan base.

Green Bay Packers Social MediaGreen Bay Packers interact with a die-hard Packers fan who flew from California to New Orleans to catch the game against the Saints.

3) Showboating is a 15-Yard Penalty

Don’t you hate it when all some people talks about is themselves? If all you talk about are things about your team (or company), you run the risk of alienating your fans. By sharing things like player profiles, fans and community service events, you develop a personal touch with you fans where it shows you care about them and the community around.

New England Patriots put on a toy drive and are encouraging fans coming to a game to get involved.New England Patriots put on a toy drive and are encouraging fans coming to a game to get involved.

4) Your Fans Are Your Hall of Fame

Remember that people, not numbers, build communities. Show your appreciation for your fan base, both online and off-line. Relationships are always a two-way street.

 The Philadelphia Eagles showcase some of their fans on their Twitter profile.

5) Have Fun!

Don’t forget to have fun! People love seeing the personalities behind the profiles. It shows your fans that you are real people too.

Denver Broncos Social MediaThe Denver Broncos have fun with their fans by having fans “guess the player” based on the player’s baby photo.

So here’s to a great NFL playoffs and to Peyton Manning getting to retire on top!


View the Rosetta Consulting white papers “Customer Engagement from the Marketer’s Perspective” and “Customer Engagement from the Consumer’s Perspective.”

Leave a Comment