Where Does Your Team Rank In Social Media Followers?

By Charlie Mullan
 |  7 mins
8E3DFB6F-93D4-478C-99D9-112C2BB6C04E  Fact Checked by Sean O'Neill
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Where Does Your Team Rank In Social Media Followers?

It's that time of the year when we find out where each team in the four major leagues in America ranks on social media. The NFL season is over; the NBA and NHL seasons are edging closer to the playoffs; the MLB season has just got started. Social media remains the best way for supporters to find out the very latest news coming out of their team's clubhouse or facility, and it's also a great way for players to show their fun side. 

When we crunched the number of followers each NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL team had on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok last year, the total came to 852,387,000. This year, that total has increased by almost 80 million to a grand total of 936,075,316, with NBA teams (48.6%) accounting for almost half. It won't be long before we reach the one billion follower mark. The 30 pro basketball teams have over 454 million followers, which is almost 200 million more than the NFL, the second most popular league on social media. 

So what does this year's report tell us? After gathering the data from all 496 accounts, the Los Angeles Lakers remain the most followed team on social media, but the Golden State Warriors, who were crowned NBA champions last year, are chasing them down. The Lakers come out on top on Twitter and Facebook, while the Warriors are number one on Instagram and TikTok. 

NBA teams dominates the top of the table, filling the top seven spots with a total of 244,230,780 followers, which is more than the 32 NHL and 30 MLB teams combined. The NHL has a lot of catching up to do, with 14 of the last 15 spots occupied by hockey teams. 

The Buffalo Bills were preseason favorites with many of the leading NFL betting sites to win Super Bowl LVII, but their rollercoaster of a season ended in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Bills were the biggest climbers in our list; one factor behind that was the frightening injury sustained by safety Damar Hamlin. 

The Boston Red Sox are currently the second most followed team in baseball, but they are in danger of being caught by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have closed the gap to just over 53,000. Last year, the gap was over 368,000. At the bottom of the table, the Florida Panthers remain 124th despite reaching the second round of the NHL playoffs last season. Where does your team rank?

Lakers Lead The Way, But Warriors Are Closing In

The Los Angeles Lakers may have missed out on the playoffs last season, but they still remain the most followed sports team in America. Since the last Bookmakers.com study, LeBron James enhanced his reputation as one of the greatest players ever to set foot on a court by passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA's all-time leading points scorer. James turns 39 at the end of the year, but he will be doing all he can to help Los Angeles become the most successful team in the league's history.

Right now, the Lakers and the Boston Celtics are locked on 17 titles, but the smart money would be on the Celtics to become the first team to unfurl an 18th championship banner. After beating Boston in last season's NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors are now the third most successful team in NBA history with seven titles. They remain second on the list, but Stephen Curry and Co. are edging closer to the Lakers. 

The gap in the number of followers between the two teams 12 months ago was 5,856,000, but that has been reduced to 1,520,247 after Golden State increased its social presence by adding over 8.75m more followers across all four platforms. The Warriors' title defense has not gone as smoothly as they would have liked this year, but it seems a question of when rather than if the Warriors become America's most followed team on social media. 

The only change in the top 10 from last year is the Cleveland Cavaliers climbing two places to fourth at the expense of the Miami Heat, who drop to sixth. Last season, the Heat earned the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, but this season, they are in a fight to make the playoffs without the need to be part of the play-in. 

The Cavaliers made the play-in last season but failed to progress. However, thanks to Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen, the Cavs have built on that experience to comfortably make the playoffs this time around. Cleveland added just under 3.35m new followers as a result.

Bills Climb 22 Places After Traumatic Season

Before the Buffalo Bills travelled to Cincinnati for their Week 17 game with the Bengals, the Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs were battling it out to be the number one seed in the AFC. In the first quarter against the Bengals, time stood still as Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest. 

Football paled into insignificance after the incident, and Hamlin's health was all that mattered. While he made a full recovery over a number of worrying weeks, his team-mates had to continue playing. Nobody can imagine what Hamlin's colleagues were going through when they took to the field. The Bills reached the divisional round, but they were unable to complete a fairytale ending to their emotional season. 

In the days and weeks after Hamlin's cardiac arrest, concern was palpable all over the country and the world, as everyone waited for updates from the Bills' social platforms. Buffalo's social media presence grew 47.48% from 4,179,000 to 6,163,283. Eventually, the positive news everyone craved for came from the Bills. 

Hamlin was in attendance to watch his team play the Bengals in their playoff game at Orchard Park, but his welcome presence was not enough to inspire his the Bills to an AFC Championship meeting with the Chiefs. 

The Vegas Golden Knights ranked 123rd in last year's list, but as one of American sport's newest franchise, that was to be expected. Reaching the playoffs in four of their first five seasons has helped grow the fanbase digitally, and they have jumped 11 places to 112. In Jack Eichel and Chandler Stephenson, Vegas are in safe hands moving forward. 
The Memphis Grizzlies are the third biggest movers, climbing nine places from 56th to 47th place. Having a rising star in Ja Morant has helped improve the team since being named NBA's Rookie of the Year four seasons ago. Morant continues to make headlines on and off the court, so following the Grizzlies social media accounts is a great way to keep up to date with everything that is going on with the Memphis team. 

The Houston Astros are the biggest movers in baseball, moving up seven spots to 67th. Winning the World Series has certainly helped the Astros, who have seen their followers grow by over 773,000 in the last 12 months. The Astros have been one of the most consistent teams in baseball, winning it all in 2017 and last year. In between those golden years, Houston has won at least one series in the playoffs. The San Diego Padres, Utah Jazz, Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs all climbed up six places.

Winning Championships Helps Increase Social Following 

Nothing boosts interest in a team more than winning. The more successful a team is, the more people will be inclined to click the 'follow' button on the various platforms available. We've highlighted how the Golden State Warriors and Houston Astros have seen their social following increase on the back of championship winnings seasons. 

So, how have the other champions in the other two major sports, seen their social media presence grow? The Kansas City Chiefs won their second Super Bowl in four seasons. Having Patrick Mahomes leading their offense helps, as his highlights on social media are just too good to ignore. 

The Chiefs are the 24th team to have reached the 10 million followers mark. Since our last report, Kansas City's social media increase is the fifth-most, behind the Warriors, Lakers, Cavaliers and the Celtics. If Mahomes can lead the Chiefs to back-to-back titles, then surely the Chiefs Kingdom population will rise digitally.

In hockey, the Colorado Avalanche won their third Stanley Cup at the end of the 2021/22 season, which was their first in 21 years. Drafting Cale Makar with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 season has certainly paid dividends. Makar enhanced his reputation as one of the best defencemen in the NHL by being named MVP in the playoffs that culminated with victory over the Lightning. Makar ended the playoffs with 29 points, and his skills on the ice are worth catching on whatever social media account you choose to follow Colorado on. 

Texas Teams Struggle On Social Media 

Two of the biggest fallers on our list play their sport in the biggest state in the country. The Texas Rangers and the Houston Texans have both seen their positions in the list drop by five places or more. The Rangers dropped seven places from 68th to 75th after picking up just 167,414 new followers on their four social media accounts, while the Texans have slipped from 55th to 60th after seeing their following boosted by just 230,487. 

Both teams are struggling in their respective leagues, which is one sure-fire way to lose followers. If you have very little to celebrate, then it's probably best to post nothing. The St Louis Cardinals are the biggest fallers in this year's report. They were 65th last year, but they find themselves 73rd despite making the playoffs for the fourth successive season. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt was named MVP in the National League, but it seems Cards fans want a lot more for them to follow the team.

Another notable faller in our study are the Green Bay Packers, who fell from 16th to 21st. The expected departure of quarterback Aaron Rodgers might have been a factor in the decline of Packers popularity on social media. If Jordan Love gets his chance and he can impress as Green Bay's new starting quarterback by making eye-catching passes or runs, then there is every chance the Packers will regain their place in the top 20. 

The social media team employed by the Sacramento Kings have never tweeted about their team participating in a playoff series, but that is about to change this season. For the first time since 2006, the Kings have made the playoffs, and in doing so, ended the longest drought of any NBA team. How they far they go remains to be seen, but just being in the postseason will surely see an increase in their social media following when we crunch the numbers in 12 months' time. 

Maybe next year when we analyze the data once again, the Washington Nationals and the Cleveland Guardians can embrace TikTok. Their totals are for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram only, as they do not have TikTok accounts listed on their official websites. That's one reason why the Nationals grew their following by just over 33,000 - the lowest increase of any of the 124 teams. 

Charlie spent 11 years as a sports reporter at the Hull Daily Mail before joining the Press Association where he helped set up their bespoke betting channel using his sports data to provide content to accompany odds operators were offering in key matches. Charlie is the sports editor for bookmakers.com covering everything from the Premier League to the NFL.

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