All thirty-two NFL teams have official Facebook and Twitter accounts, and about 1,200 players have a Twitter, so there are clearly opportunities for the teams and players to positively connect with the fans (Pasquarelli). According to Hambrick and his co-authors, “Athletes can use Twitter to connect directly with fans instead of having their message filtered through the public relations departments of sports organizations and mainstream-media outlets” (Hambrick et al). Millions of fans also have Twitter accounts, and millions of them follow either their favorite team’s page or NFL’s page. In a world where real-time updates are given all the time, fans are at the point where they are relying on these accounts to get information about their teams. And this has been proven to help the teams increase profits: “such behaviors include greater frequency of game attendance, more time and money invested in the team, and greater intentions to purchase a team sponsor’s products” (Hambrick et al). The more that a team can get their fans connected through this information, the more money they will make.
There is actually a huge range in Facebook likes and Twitter followers between the teams with good social media interaction and the ones with less interaction. The average amount of Facebook likes for an NFL team is about 1.62 million and the average amount of Twitter followers for an NFL team is about 270,000, so any team above either or both of these totals would be considered a team with good social media presence. According to One.Cool.Customer, the Cowboys have over 5.38 million Facebook likes and over 560,000 Twitter followers, both of which are more than any other team. But the Jacksonville Jaguars have only 307,000 Facebook likes and 82,000 Twitter followers, 32nd and 31st in the league respectively. What makes the Cowboys so much more popular on social media than the Jaguars? The Jaguars might be the worst team in the NFL this year, but the Cowboys have compiled that large of a fan following despite only having one playoff win since the creation of Facebook. One major reason is the size of the market and fan base. The Cowboys have been a team for much longer than the Jaguars, so they have had time to accumulate a larger fan base. Plus, the market for football is much stronger in Texas than it is in Jacksonville. While both teams are in big states, Texas is considered one of the biggest football states in the country and the Cowboys are considered the most valuable franchise in the NFL (“Overall State…”). So even if the Cowboys have an off year, the large fan base for “America’s Team” will still be there and will continue to grow. And with social media prevalence always growing, these numbers are guaranteed to increase for both teams as long as they both remain in the NFL (One.Cool.Customer).
But surprisingly, some players have more followers on Twitter than the team for which they play. For example, Reggie Bush has over 2.8 million followers, but the Detroit Lions, his team, only has 221,000. Tim Tebow, who is not even on an NFL roster at the moment, has more than three times the Twitter followers of any team in the NFL (One.Cool.Customer). But as mentioned beforehand, these numbers are always going to increase. There are also people called NFL Insiders whose sole job is to report on news about teams and players to the public through TV shows, radio, and social media. Adam Schefter, an NFL Insider for ESPN, has over 2.2 million followers on Twitter, and he often acts as this sort of middle man in providing news to the fans. In 2011, the NFL teams combined for 27.2 million fans on Facebook and Twitter, but that has more than doubled to 60.5 million in two years. And with Twitter going public this past November and announcing a new deal in which they are teaming with the NFL to provide small highlight updates throughout the Thursday and Sunday games, these numbers should see a big jump (Van Grove).
(Works Cited will be given in the final post)