The Social Playoffs: Which NFL Teams are Dominating?

With the NFL playoffs well underway, tension is rising, emotions are running high, and outcomes are entirely unpredictable. Still, audiences can rest assured that the playoffs will include several comforting guarantees: the games will be exciting, the pressure will be tremendous, and above all for us, the games will be social.

Mass Relevance lies deep in the heart of Texas where football isn't just a pastime - it's a way of life. And everyone in the state has their own theory about what makes a football team great. Between the "offense sells tickets, defense wins championships" believers, and the "the best defense is a good offense" preachers, there's one thing these diehard fans can all agree on - and that's the importance of a strong strategy. Solid strategies win Super Bowls.

Today we'll take a look at brand social strategies from the 30,000 foot level and calculate the score that everyone really wants to know: which NFL team is dominating across social channels? No pre-game commentary, no Vegas lines - just me researching every team's social activity, fans, and posts to reveal the victor on social platforms.

Here's a quick look at the methodology used to compare each matchup:

  • For each Conference Championship this weekend, I looked at high-level metrics from multiple platforms for fan reception (likes/followers/etc.) and level of social activity (posts/Tweets.)

  • When a team bests the other on a platform, they get 7 points.

  • Some of the winners here, arguably, will be a bit subjective. Let it be known that I will be the only referee on the field, and there will be no challenge flags available.

Ok, enough yapping, let’s play some ball.

AFC Social Showdown: Patriots vs. Broncos 

Social Score: 35-7, Patriots

Post-game: The Patriots are bringing strong social skills to the field, with an impressive following across diverse social channels, and their epic Google+ number is just a nasty Gronk spike at the end of the play. Nice work, Pats.

And now on to Sunday’s game…

NFC Social Showdown: 49ers vs. Seahawks

Social Score: 21-21

The 49ers are showing a solid social strategy, but the Seahawks and their social 12th Man are defending the home-field advantage with humungous Pinterest follower numbers and some pretty nifty Tumblr fan boards. This one’s going into OT.

For the tie breaker, we’ll let this guy flip the coin:

Overtime Results:

  • 49ers Reddit Board Subscribers: 13,472
  • Seahawks Reddit Board Subscribers: 13,870

Break out the champagne, the Seahawks have barely nudged out the 49ers with Reddit subscribers to their team board, and have earned bragging rights to the coveted NFC Social Championship.

What Did We Learn?

To be a winner in social, you need to diversify on both (or all) sides of the ball. Having a deep focus on one social channel can win you fans with one subset of your audience, but having a multi-network approach is a necessity for a modern, social brand.

That's all for this round, but I'll be back with our take on the social Super Bowl in a few weeks. Until then, enjoy the games and keep your social strategy strong through the finish of the season. I'm looking at you, Romo.


Chris Kerns's picture

Chris Kerns

Chris Kerns has spent more than a decade defining digital strategy and is at the forefront of finding insights from digital data. He currently leads Analytics and Research at Spredfast. His research has appeared in The New York Times, Forbes, USA Today and AdWeek, among other publications.