What a New Study Tells Us About NBA Teams and Social Media

Last week, CNBC published their findings on a study of the 122 major professional sports teams in the United States and their social media presence on Twitter. Here are the most interesting factoids from that report:

  • Out of the four sports studied—basketball, football, baseball and hockey—the NBA had the most combined followers out of the four. On average, they have 60% more followers than the average football team. The Lakers have the most followers out of any team, at 3.7 million. Not a surprise, considering the global reach of the team with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol as the main stars, and also because, well, it’s hard to go five minutes on Twitter without running into a Kobe argument with a Lakers fan.
  • The NBA was the earliest adopter of Twitter, with the Sacramento Kings leading the way. They joined Twitter at the start of 2007, less than a year after the the launch of Twitter. For comparison, the last U.S. professional team to join was the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, who did so in 2011, a four year gap between the first and last team.
  • A bit of a surprise to me: the Toronto Raptors were the last NBA team to join Twitter, on September 11, 2009. Surprising only because the Raptors have always had a massive online fan base, whether it’s on message boards, on Facebook or on Twitter.
  • The Brooklyn Nets have the highest tweets per day among NBA teams, at 26.7 per day. This makes sense when considering their marketing push since moving to a new market from New Jersey. The Cavaliers are the lowest at 5.7 tweets. Two educated guesses: Dan Gilbert screens every tweet before they’re sent, or, the team just haven’t had a lot of things to tweet about since LeBron let. If you have nothing nice to tweet about, tweet nothing at all.
  • The NBA as a whole has more followers on their Twitter accounts than the other leagues. But the reason for that could be because they follow a combined 262,000 accounts, while the other three leagues all follow less than 100,000 accounts. So, you’re not the only one part of #TeamFollowBack; Apparently the NBA is too.
  • And just to reaffirm the overall reach of the NBA, only six of the 122 professional teams have over a million Twitter followers, five of them are from the NBA: the Lakers, Heat, Bulls, Celtics and Magic. The sixth team is the Yankees. So yes, the NBA is expanding and it appears their goals of becoming a global game is working, at least when looking at the social media numbers.

Follow me on Twitter @steven_lebron

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