Social Media Analytics Reveal How the NFL Can Employ Influencers in the OffseasonJune 14, 2017
In the third full month of the NFL offseason, social media activity and mentions surrounding the NFL left digital and social media managers desiring more. Compared to April, May lagged sorely in overall tweets, influencer engagement, unique authors, impressions, and number of people engaged.
In April, the Twittersphere produced noteworthy moments for the NFL. April uncovered hidden talents from non-NFL sports and entertainment stars.
NFL teams could potentially partner with these influencers especially if they are well-known locally, and tap in-house talent to stay top of mind with fans. Social media analytics show us interesting details, including affinities and associations with other brands, about an influencer’s follower demographics.
Top Tweets & Influencers from Early in the Offseason
Though the total activity around the NFL dipped in the offseason, many tweets still received high engagement. According to the Twitter feed ranking by our ZPoints® algorithm—Zoomph’s contextual influencer-ranking engine, May’s top-influential tweets were centered on player-team transactions and team news. The top two tweets, however, provided more entertainment value.
In the top tweet, Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor showed off this impressive trick with some visual effects from a photoshoot.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 25, 2017
In the second, players from the Tennessee Titans showed support for their local NHL team, the Nashville Predators, in the NHL playoffs. While the NFL and NHL may compete for fan attention in the fall and winter, rising star quarterback Marcus Mariota and his linemen took to the arena to amplify an already-electric atmosphere.
Tennessee Titans offensive linemen crushing tallboys to fire up the crowd in Nashville
Go Preds. pic.twitter.com/v1sHACFVqo
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 17, 2017
These tweets were authored by media influencers—the first by Bleacher Report to over four million followers and the second by Fox Sports senior writer Pete Blackburn to over 52k followers. The latter reached almost 10k retweets and almost 20k likes.
The tweets embedded video to provide creative and engaging content. Out of the firehose of tweets, both tweets captivated fans by featuring well-known NFL players. These moments provided fans with a glimpse into the lives of their favorite athletes outside of their performances on the field.
These tweets offered fans an opportunity to form a stronger connection to their sports heroes. On the other side, brands forged genuine connections and created strong impressions with their fans.
Earlier in April, we saw even more major Twitter moments that showcased great NFL influencers and allowed a couple of brands outside of the NFL to increase impressions.
At the beginning of the April, Rob Gronkowski attended Wrestlemania 33 to support his friend and former Green Bay Packer, Mojo Rawley. Gronkowski and Rawley trained together for the main event that Rawley participated in.
One of Rawley’s opponents taunted Gronkowski and tossed water at him, provoking him to climb over the barrier. Once Gronkowski made his way to the ring, he tackled his antagonist and assisted Rawley with the win.
The Gronkowski story worked well for the WWE. According to the Zoomph feed tracking NFL-related tweets, this moment garnered over 2.4k retweets and over 3.7k likes.
— WWE (@WWE) April 2, 2017
The tweet attracted so much attention because the WWE and Gronkowski have a wide reach with over 11.3 million followers combined—9.1 million followers for the WWE and 2.25 million for Gronkowski.
The pair also appeal to similar audiences on Twitter. Over 90% of their respective followers are millennials and gen X-ers.
As expected, WWE followers express affinities towards WWE stars, such as John Cena; and guest stars, like Dwayne Johnson; and other professional sports leagues, teams, and media outlets. This includes the NFL, which is the top professional sports league that WWE followers are interested in.
Perhaps more surprisingly, Gronkowski’s followers share interests with WWE’s followers in SportsCenter, UFC, NASCAR, the Patriots, and rivals Denver Broncos. Their followers have some of the same mutual friends, like talk show hosts Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon.
These overlapping audience characteristics indicate how the NFL and its stars like Gronkowski can work with the WWE to achieve great success.
The NFL has already began exploring crossover audiences between its league and other international sports. In March, the NFL sent Gronkowski as an ambassador to Barcelona to find crossover audiences between the two.
Since WWE followers have a strong positive affinity toward international soccer clubs, like Real Madrid and Manchester United, a related partnership opportunity could exist there.
These overlapping audience characteristics indicate the NFL and its stars like Gronkowski can work with the WWE to great success.
Rapper Quavo Channels His Inner Aaron Rodgers
Quavo, lead rapper of the hip hop group Migos from Atlanta, showed off his throwing accuracy. A video of him tossing a football a good 25-30 yards into a basketball hoop surfaced on Twitter.
We’re not familiar with workout regime but he might be taking advice from Aaron Rodgers.
— Everything Georgia (@GAFollowers) April 11, 2017
Both Quavo and Migos as a whole have followers that associate with the NFL. Surprisingly, neither Quavo’s nor Migos’ top follower associations include the hometown team. However, the Atlanta Falcons and Migos share mutual followers with Ellen DeGeneres, much like the WWE and Gronkowski.
What’s more is that a good portion of their respective fans are located in Georgia as expected.
This data reveals how the Falcons and other sports teams can partner with local entertainment stars for campaigns and promotions. These partnerships may increase likelihood of fans taking advantage of a promotion or participate in campaign. They could be swayed by the endorsement of additional star power.
WNBA #1 Draft Pick Displays Her Arm Talent
Kelsey Plum, the number one overall pick in this year’s WNBA draft and NCAA Division I women’s basketball all-time leading scorer, put her arm to work for the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs tagged her to launch t-shirts out to fans attending a playoff game.
BREAKING: With the first-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select, this chick… pic.twitter.com/komprpYkfF
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) April 26, 2017
The NFL stepped up its marketing game to reach the valuable female market. Plum’s Twitter followers, in fact, express interests in the Seattle Seahawks and the NFL. They show up as the sixth and the eighth ranked associations, respectively, among her followers.
Considering how 74% of NFL followers are male and just 26% are female, someone like Plum could help the NFL and/or the Seahawks reach more female fans.
Some of Plum’s followers also express positive affinity towards the Denver Broncos, though it’s not quite as strong as the affinity towards the Seahawks. This is likely because Plum spent her college years playing at the University of Washington.
Running Away with the Spotlight
In May’s NFL-related tweets, there weren’t any noticeable campaigns where the NFL or its stars partnered with brands to increase their own brand impressions. Star players that drew the most attention were those that signed with new teams.
Brands and marketers can still use that data on top-performing content to identify influencers to partner with. Top tweets usually feature players with star status.
According to NFL.com, there were 166 transactions in May, many of which likely occurred without the average NFL fan noticing. Out of all of these player transactions, the NFL audience widely acknowledged a few moves involving a couple of big names in the form of retweeting and liking tweets.
While quarterbacks have long the spotlight—and even more so recently as teams have emphasized the passing offense—running backs took Twitter’s center stage in May. Tweets featuring star running backs with new teams made appearances in the top 50 tweets than any other player position. Marshawn Lynch made five appearances, Adrian Peterson had two, and LeGarrette Blount and Jamaal Charles had one each.
These players are some of the most marketable in the NFL. They’ve already partnered with brands like Skittles, Xbox, and various fitness publications.
Their Twitter Follower Reports provide more insight into potential partnerships that might make sense. Each of their audiences index male millennials and gen X-ers who engage with multiple sports brands.
Their followers associate with brands like The Walking Dead, YouTuber Roman Atwood, WWE and Amazon. With this kind of audience data, the players’ representatives or the endorsement managers for brands could strike up conversations with one another. These brand-player relationships would prove mutually beneficial creative marketing campaign.
Social media analytics provide marketers with a lot of insight about specific demographics. Teams can use audience data to discover their fans’ interests outside of the sport and reach them on various platforms, especially during the offseason.
How does your target audience describe themselves? What interests and passions does your audience have? Which brands and celebrities does your audience interact with? Which accounts does your audience follow?
This enriched audience data enables you to identify untapped markets with consumer profiles that match your target audience. Not only that, but you can find potential partnerships with brands that already reach those audiences.
You can understand audiences by personality, the content they love, and the brands that they’re engaging with. Leverage this insight to create strategic messaging and to identify new marketing opportunities.