The Houston Rockets: Poetry in Motion

What a difference a year makes: like Taylor Swift’s cats or real hoverboards, video has taken over all of our feeds. Video’s dominance has primarily been driven by mobile devices. Social networks have figured out how to quickly and reliably load these so that by the time they’ve edged into your feed they’re already playing and before you know it you’ve watched a video of a cat in a monkey suit eating a banana.

This sea change in consumption led us to explore how and where brands were posting video across networks. Which brands are finding the most engagement and what makes them different from their peers? Are there best practices hidden in the data?


In the Smart Social Report: Volume Three we collected all posts over six months from April to September 2015 and then divided those up into static and video content by social network and included their engagement rates. On each platform we looked at engagement rate per follower so that those brands with larger audiences didn’t automatically outperform all of the others.

When we plotted all of the brands by percent of video content versus engagement rates they fell into four quadrants:

You can read the full study for the unique characteristics of each one, but for this blog let’s zero in on one of the brands that not only posted more video than average, but also had higher than average engagement. The Houston Rockets – that’s right, Clutch City.

Where To Post What?

The Houston Rockets strategy leaned more heavily on Instagram than their peers. They posted 52% of their video content to the network and none of the other brands studied even came close.

A closer look at the data told us this is a great strategy for them. The Rockets Instagram content was 375% more engaging than their content posted directly to Facebook. Their social media team is embracing an area where they’ve seen success and then consistently replicating it. Below was the most engaging video posted to Instagram by the Rockets.

This epic full-court shot didn't count, but watching it from alternate angles is incredible. #Bearding

A video posted by Houston Rockets (@houstonrockets) on

Cross Pollination

While they may have the highest engagement on Instagram this doesn’t mean that other social networks are performing poorly. The Rockets do the best on Instagram, but they still are excelling on Twitter and Instagram. They out performed all brands in the study on Facebook by 94% and on Twitter by 21% when comparing average engagement rates by platform.

When reviewing the top performing content items by platform the Rockets also stood out for their willingness to share either the same video on multiple networks, or in this case the same moment but from different angles. The embedded Tweet below was their highest performing Twitter video in the study and from another angle was the highest performing Facebook video for the brand. When you’ve hit on a great video it doesn’t need to stay in one place to continue engagement your audience, but by meeting them where they are you can keep all of your channels at their most relevant and engaging.


We’ve seen brands develop some incredibly unique voices for themselves over the years. Denny’s on Twitter or MTV on Instagram, for example. Adding another medium to text and static imagery can feel daunting, but best practices are already being found that can help brands avoid the error phase of trial-and-error. What works for the Rockets might not work for every brand, but their willingness to cross-pollinate and focus on networks where they are seeing results are great starting points to learn from.

If you’re interested in seeing the full results of our study, download the free Smart Social Report Volume 3. In addition to this study, you’ll also get research on social insights from the NFL, new data on the planning landscape, and a look at gender patterns in social media.

Jason Smith's picture

Jason Smith

Jason Smith is a Senior Analyst at Spredfast and works to find the underlying story the data is trying to tell. When he isn’t breaking APIs and making charts he can be found playing music around Austin. Follow him on Twitter for general nonsense and various complaints.