MLS Kicks Season Off With Big Opening Weekend On Social

Major League Soccer officially kicked off their 2022 season last weekend, and there were winners both on and off the field. With the season starting essentially a month earlier than usual, fans only had so much time to consume content, purchase freshly-released jerseys, and get ready to cheer on their team from wherever they are.

On the field, there were plenty of big moments:

  • LA Galaxy and Chicharito took down reigning champions NYCFC in the 90th minute.
  • Regular season champion New England Revs tied the runner up Portland Timbers in a 2-2 battle.
  • Charlotte FC played their first ever game, but lost 3-0 to DC United.
  • Second-year team Austin FC defeated FC Cincinnati 5-0 in the largest win of the weekend.

Off the field, the league, teams and fans took to social to celebrate the weekend:

PlatformPostsEngagement %EngagementsSocial ValueImpressions

Owned and Earned MLS Data 2/26/22 12:00 AM – 2/28/22 3:00 AM EST

Top Posts From the Weekend

Facebook: LA Galaxy Celebrate Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s Goal

Instagram: MLS Shows Off Timbers Star Yimmi Chara’s Goal

Twitter: B/R Football Tweets Out Chicharito Goal

Chicharito’s Last Ditch Effort Scores Big on Social

LA Galaxy and NYCFC had one of the most anticipated matchups for Sunday, with the reigning champions NYCFC headed out west to LA. A reigning champion had not won their first game of the regular season away since 2012, and Galaxy barely kept that streak alive. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez saved the day, cutting his defender and slotting the ball past the goalie in essentially the 90th minute. Social media was buzzing over the impressive shot.

PostsEngagement %EngagementsSocial ValueImpressions

MLS Owned (TW, IG, FB) and Earned (TW) Posts Mentioning “Chicharito”

As shown above, the weekend’s top posts overall on Twitter and Facebook were about Chicharito’s last minute goal. On Instagram, the top post mentioning Chicharito was from MLS and generated an additional 476K+ projected impressions and 43K+ engagements around his big moment.

Charlotte FC’s Opening Weekend

Charlotte managed to keep a buzz with their fans despite the loss. Their fans were engaged with the inaugural match, coming in at just a little below the average engagement rate for owned MLS data, which was 2.69%. On Instagram, Charlotte had almost a 5% greater engagement rate than the rest of the owned accounts, which averaged 6.29%. On Facebook, they were about 0.2 percentage points above the average MLS team owned posts rate of 2.2%, but on Twitter they had a lower engagement rate by 0.25 percentage points, with the owned league average at 0.70%.

PlatformPostsEngagement %EngagementsSocial ValueImpressions

Charlotte FC Owned Posts range 2/26/22 12:00 AM – 2/28/22 3:00 AM EST

Their top post was on Instagram and highlighted the franchise’s inaugural starting nine, earning an impressive 12.58% engagement rate.

How did MLS Teams Show up in Support for Ukraine?

While other leagues like the WNBA, NWSL, and NBA are more known for their social justice actions, there were a few teams that showed their support for Ukraine. Some teams posted about it, some teams used warm up shirts, and some players took it upon themselves to do what they thought was necessary to get more support and conversation out there.

PostsEngagement %EngagementsImpressions

MLS Owned and Earned Posts Containing “Ukraine” 2/26/22 12:00AM – 2/27/22 11:59PM EST

MLS Teams Opening Weekend Social Rankings by Engagement Rate

Source: MLS Owned Posts 02/25/2022 7:00 PM to 03/01/2022 7:00 PM EST

Key Takeaways

Highlights run up social value and engagement.

Posts featuring moments like Chicharito’s goal and Yimmi Chara’s bicycle kick stole the show on social and outperformed the average engagement rate across MLS data for the weekend.

Make the most of the audience you have.

The Los Angeles market teams are a good study. LA Galaxy has 1.4 M followers on Instagram and 525.8K followers on Twitter with an engagement rate average across Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook of 2.18%. On the other hand, LAFC has 501K followers on Instagram and 284.4K followers on Twitter with a cross-platform engagement rate of 5.09%. With half the followers, LAFC was still able to maximize content for a successful weekend.

Post, Post, Post!

It’s not a perfect science, but many of the top teams by engagement rate were in the yellow and green for posts, while several teams at the bottom were in the orange and red. Across teams, more posts also correlated with more total engagements, impressions and social value.

Keep an eye on new team Charlotte FC and second-year team Austin FC.

Seeing how newer teams perform on social, relative to each other and the rest of the league, is one way to evaluate the growth of the league on social.