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A Breakdown of Final Four Twitter Fanbases

As we approach the beginning of the Final Four, all the focus on TV, the web, and social is on the four teams that have made it this far. The next few days will be filled with chatter about how efficient each team’s offenses are, how stingy their defenses can be, and how much experience their stars and coaches have.

But what about the fans?

We fans don’t always get the love we deserve. We buy tickets to all the games, travel far and wide to tournament sites, and most importantly, we emotionally invest in our team’s journey through March Madness.

Take it from the Kentucky band girl this year after UK’s loss to Indiana…


Final Four Fan Spotlight

I decided to turn the spotlight onto the fans and study the communities of people who are just as crazed about their basketball teams as I am. Using a soon-to-be-released Zoomph feature, Follower Insights, I analyzed the top handles that #FinalFour fans follow, as well as the emotional connections that they have with different people, brands, and media outlets.

As a marketer, insights into your fans’ following habits give you a sneak peek into their daily Twitter timelines. It removes the guesswork from finding what content your fans consume. Imagine the power of knowing that the majority of your followers see Sports Center tweets every day, or that they love a particular athlete or celebrity! This presents real-time, organic insight into new advertising streams for your brand.

With this in mind, we studied the followers of our Final Four teams. Let’s begin with the highest remaining seed…


North Carolina Tar Heels

  • The Tar Heels, by a long stretch, have the largest Twitter fan base of the Final Four teams with over 300k followers.
  • 70% of followers are male, and 30% are female.
  • 64% of followers are millennials, and 28% are Gen-Xers —  a pretty common ratio of relatively new and aged fans across all teams.
  • According to Follower Insights, 54% of @UNC_Basketball followers on Twitter also follow @SportsCenter. Sports Center was the most commonly followed handle among the fans of UNC, Syracuse, and Oklahoma.
  • 38% of @UNC_Basketball followers also follow  LeBron James (@KingJames), while another 30% follow Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5), both of whom are not affiliated with UNC at all. LeBron didn’t play competitively in college, and Durant played at Texas.
  • Point guard Marcus Paige (@marcuspaige5) is the most followed Tar Heel player by UNC fans, with 30% mutual friends as the UNC handle. The second-most followed Tar Heel is former player and current pro, Harrison Barnes (21%). (C’mon Carolina fans, show some love to your team on Twitter!)



Syracuse Orange

  • The demographics fall in line with those of Carolina’s fans: 70% male, 30% female. 61% of followers are millennials and 30% are Gen-x
  • #OrangeNation has a bit more Twitter pride than their North Carolinian opponent. While LeBron still reaps love from many Orange fans (39% mutual friends), 37% of Syracuse basketball fans follow the team’s head coach, Jim Boeheim (@therealboeheim). Another 30% follow former Orange and current NBA star, Carmelo Anthony, who led the Cuse to the program’s lone National Championship in 2003.
  • Senior guard, Trevor Cooney (@TCooney10) has more mutual friends with the Cuse handle than any of his current teammates.
  • According to a “sentiment towards common associations” report provided in Follower Insights, 45% of tweets about the New York Mets by Cuse fans skew positive. (Compare that to 27% positive tweets about the Yankees.) Many Cuse fans tweet more positively about the Buffalo Bills and Sabers than they do about the Giants and the Rangers.



Oklahoma Sooners

  • A 2-seed, the Sooners are the second-most followed team on Twitter out of the Final Four, and also follow the most people. #Teamfollowback am I right?
  • In Sooner country, “The King” doesn’t reign supreme. Kevin Durant is the most commonly followed person among Sooner fans, earning a 51% share of mutual followers. By comparison, 40% of  Sooner fans follow LeBron. On the surface, this comes as no surprise because KD is the star of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, but consider this – Durant played at OU’s bitter rival, Texas. It seems that the past is forgiven when you lead the best professional sports team in town.
  • The most popular OU basketball alum is LA Clippers star Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) with 31% mutual friends as the Sooners handle. The most followed current player is All-American, Buddy Hield (@buddyhield) with 27% mutual friends. Despite Hield gaining attention for his award-winning season, Griffin’s professional superstardom transcends anything at the collegiate level – a common trend across all the fan bases that we analyzed.
  • The most commonly followed Sooner is OU’s head football coach, Bob Stoops (@OU_CoachStoops) at 35% mutual follows.
  • 49% of OU basketball followers also follow Oklahoma’s football team (@OU_Football). No surprise here considering the school has a reputation of being a “football school.”



Villanova Wildcats

  • The demographics of #NovaNation are similar to those of the other teams – about 70% male, and over 60% millennials.
  • The two most popular accounts among Nova fans are ESPN college basketball analysts Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) and Dick Vitale (@DickieV) with 65% and 62% mutual friends as the Wildcats respectively.
  • Only 43% of Nova Fans follow Sports Center, which was the most mutually followed account of the other fan bases (the minimum being 53%).
  • It appears that the interest of Villanova fans range far beyond the realm of college basketball. Around half of the team’s followers also follow celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Taylor Swift, and Ellen DeGeneres (among others), while only 26% of them follow the team’s head coach, Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright).
  • We did find though that conversations about Coach Wright amid the team’s followers were overwhelmingly positive with 65% positive associations and only 8% negative. Quality definitely overtakes quantity in this instance, so good for you, coach!

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