NFL Teams and Social Media: Who's Hot And Who's Not.

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On this day exactly one year ago, I wrote a post about how effective NFL teams are at exploiting the opportunities alternative media has to offer, and looked at each team's internet reach, Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers.

Today, I revisit that post and update the numbers to find out what has changed in the last 365 days, and who the winners are. But before we do that, let's start a little closer to home. On the left side of this post, you can see the Twitter and Facebook icons that you can also find further down the left side of the BTB front page. On May 31st last year, BTB had 806 Facebook fans and 1,556 Twitter followers. One year later those numbers stand at 1,631 (+102%) and 2,729 (+75%), a combined increase of 85%.

Social media, and Twitter in particular, has changed the way fans interact with the game and its players. So much so that there is now even talk about an eventual CBA possibly containing a social media policy aimed at protecting players and teams. Regardless of whether that happens or not, social media has ramped up the NFL experience to an entirely different level.

But the NFL and NFL teams have a long way to go yet. Among the top six global teams in terms of Facebook fans are are five European Soccer clubs (In order: 1. FC Barcelona, 15.8 M; 2. Manchester United, 14.8 M; 3. Real Madrid, 8.7 M, 5. Arsenal, 6.0 M, 6. Liverpool, 5.9 M) and one North American professional team, the Lakers at No. 4 with 8.7 million Facebook fans. The best NFL team has 'only' 2.8 million Facebook fans. Find out who that team is after the break as we look at each NFL team's number of Twitter followers, Facebook Fans and the page rank of their internet sites.

The table below ranks the NFL teams according to the reach they generate in three categories. Here's what I looked at:

Twitter Followers: Number of Followers as shown on a teams official Twitter site.
Facebook Fans: Number of Fans on each teams' official Facebook page.
Home Page Traffic Rank: Traffic rank among all US internet sites for the official team homepage (as listed on NFL.com) according to Alexa.com, who compute the average daily visitors and pageviews over the last three months to arrive at their ranking.

Social Media Reach by NFL team

Team Twitter Followers
Facebook Fans
Total (Change vs 2010)
Traffic Rank
Cowboys
78,824 2,817,415 2,896,239 (+2,247,996)
4,739
Steelers
93,411 2,434,612 2,528,023 (+1,942,077) 10,842
Patriots
95,302 2,130,086 2,225,388 (+1,759,308) 11,247
Packers
77,497 1,635,605 1,713,102 (+1,420,057) 9,401
Bears
51,529 1,639,090 1,690,619 (+1,171,758) 7,844
Saints
55,508 1,397,583 1,453,091 (+866,578) 41,533
Colts
37,645 1,110,609 1,148,254 (+787,313) 21,920
Eagles
39,846 1,023,087 1,062,933 (+856,581) 5,243
Vikings
50,150 987,434 1,037,584 (+618,525 ) 18,127
Jets
147,930 821,410 969,340 (+813,480) 27,171
Raiders
57,646 891,655 949,301 (+807,452) 24,291
Giants
16,516 891,683 908,199 (+896,593) 17,233
Chargers
62,291 781,763 844,054 (+582,741) 20,289
Dolphins
51,837 708,744 760,581 (+537,345) 18,801
49ers
54,403 667,925 722,328 (+545,528) 13,661
Broncos
48,176 662,000 710,176 (+501,779) 15,133
Redskins 21,176 589,329 610,505 (+358,098) 10,710
Ravens 35,509 558,742 594,251 (+472,739) 16,173
Seahawks
36,985 497,580 534,565 (+366,598) 27,513
Chiefs
32,487 436,405 468,892 (+365,378) 23,457
Bengals 40,304 414,161 454,465 (+260,020) 11,228
Lions 26,428 361,230 387,658 (+310,822) 14,408

Browns
35,624 287,514 323,138 (+193,494) 22,150
Texans 25,336 285,037 310,373 (+245,801) 33,193
Bucs 20,295 279,807 300,102 (+229,751) 30,783
Cardinals 6,009 272,333 278,342 (+212,468) 27,186
Bills 26,875 239,523 266,398 (+168,864) 12,283
Panthers 17,600 232,239 249,839 (+212,200) 24,441
Titans 32,457 215,532 247,989 (+175,562) 46,464
Falcons 46,976 170,212 217,188 (+152,576) 19,061
Jaguars 14,888 174,592 189,480 (+137,141) 11,326
Rams 16,934 101,210 118,144 (+84,667) 49,562

Social Media on the rise

Social Media has taken the NFL by storm. Last year at this time, all NFL teams combined had 6.8 million fans following them on Twitter and Facebook, this year that number has quadrupled to 27.2 million. 

Yet individual players like Chad Ochocinco (2,044,787 Twitter followers) and Reggie Bush (1,698,568 Twitter followers) have more followers than all NFL teams combined (1,454,394). Twitter appears to be a medium that NFL teams have not yet fully embraced, and probably have not fully understood either.

The Recession Session

While all these social media numbers look great for the teams, the traffic to their websites has taken a decidedly negative turn. The Cowboys homepage for example was ranked the 2,302nd most frequented internet site last year, this year it has slipped to 4,739. The average of all NFL websites dropped from being ranked around 15,000th to around 20,000th.

Roger Goodell remarked recently that the NFL Network had seen a significant decline in viewership for the NFL draft. Visits and page views to the team's internet sites are also taking a considerable hit as the numbers above show. The lockout is having an obvious impact on fan interest in the NFL, and the owners would do well to take heed.

For your reference, the SBNation blog with the highest traffic, the Chiefs fansite Arrowheadpride.com, is ranked as the 14,297th most frequented internet site by Alexa.com. That ranks them just behind the 49ers, the 11th best team in the NFL by traffic rank, and ahead of 21 NFL teams. In case you're wondering, BTB ranks 35,286th. Still ahead of the Saints, Titans and Rams, and the second best value for an SB Nation NFL blog according to Alexa.com.

Now consider that we writers here at BTB work for nothing more than the promise of blog groupies, which have yet to materialize so far, while most NFL teams are likely to have a significant budget for their internet activities, and you have to wonder why they aren't able to generate more interest and traffic for their teams.

The Cowboys have a certainly embraced social media. The official Cowboys twitter feed @dallascowboys (used for the stats above) is just one of many twitter accounts used by the Cowboys, as the beat writers each have a separate account which they use heavily. And compared to some of the wastelands I've seen masquerading as team sites,  the mothership is a veritable Garden Of Eden.

Oh, and by the way, the Cowboys are America's Team. The numbers prove it once again.

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