Social media has completely changed the game for how the National Football League (NFL), its teams, and its players interact with fans. New analysis by Adobe Digital Index (ADI), in fact, shows that the NFL is the most social sporting league in the U.S., with the New York Giants leading the NFL’s social-buzz pack, and college football juggernaut teams LSU, Texas, and USC among the top buzzed by team.
According to ADI, total social buzz for the term “NFL” is 50% higher than the term “MLB” before its season started this past spring. As might be expected, New York state shows the highest social buzz percentage for the NFL, with 16%.
What’s more, ADI’s insight reveals that the appeal of the NFL isn’t limited to just the U.S.: While 79% of NFL social buzz comes stateside, growing international interest (21%) in the league also is apparent. When it comes to individual teams, the New York Giants also have the most international appeal, with 36% of the buzz coming from outside the U.S.
Despite all of this social activity, ADI also found that soccer (football to the rest of the world) still trumps the NFL in social buzz. Real Madrid, the world’s highest valued sports team, had 2.2 million mentions in the past month, which is more than 14 times the amount of buzz for the New York Giants.
ADI’s analysis, which is based on more than 15 million social mentions related to the NFL and college football, captured social buzz through Adobe Social from blogs, Facebook, Google+, Reddit, Twitter, Dailymotion, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, VK, Disqus, Foursquare, Metacafe, Wordpress, and YouTube.
“This analysis proves that there is a passionate group of NFL fans both in the United States and internationally,” said Joe Martin, analyst at ADI. “Marketers should be looking at this as an opportunity to reach fans of these teams through sponsorships and sports-related marketing efforts. Additionally, if you are a global marketer, look at the popular teams in other countries because the fans overseas could be another opportunity for both engagement and long-lasting loyalty.”
Players, of course, also create NFL-related social buzz, ADI found. Of the top 100 players as ranked by NFL.com, New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady enjoys the most buzz, with 9%. However, newcomer Johnnie Manziel, with the Cleveland Browns, has the most buzz of any other NFL quarterback.
As for last year’s Super Bowl teams, the 2014 champions, the Seattle Seahawks, have slightly more buzz than runner-up San Francisco 49ers. Similar to the World Cup, poor sentiment (55%) about NFL based on players’ off-field issues shifted to positive (69%) after the preseason opening on Aug. 3.
And while the NFL is leading the charge with social buzz, college football can’t be ignored, Martin told CMO.com. In fact, the LSU Tigers, Texas Longhorns, and USC Trojans have more buzz than 25 of the NFL teams. Of the five Heisman trophy hopefuls, Jameis Winston, last year’s winner, has the most social buzz over the past 30 days. Marcus Mariota of Oregon is a close second.
“Marketers must understand that sporting events are among the most social events taking place,” Martin said. “Football has a lot of passionate enthusiasts, and social buzz allows marketers to identify these aficionados and reach a targeted group of consumers.”
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Adobe Digital Insights publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from more than 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising.
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