NFL teams were among the earliest pioneers to use social media as a way to engage and interact with their fans. We’ve seen teams use social to distribute content of all kinds: highlights, in-game updates, injury reports, and even some friendly camaraderie with other teams and fans.

So this led us to wonder…. Is there any correlation between an NFL team’s record and their engagement on social? In other words, does a winning record equate to winning social media? Or are some fan bases devout enough that they’ll follow and support their team staunchly, regardless of the team’s record?

To get the answer, our team at TrackMaven analyzed all social media content (on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) from all NFL teams across the 2015-2016 regular season. We calculated the average engagement each team received from their content on each of those channels, and plotted it against team winning percentage. Note: We define engagement rate as average interactions per post per 1,000 followers. This way audience sizes normalize, and teams with more fans don’t have an absolute advantage. Engagement includes any interaction with a post – likes, shares, comments, retweets.

We discovered that yes, some of the best teams get high engagement rates with fans (see: Panthers, Bengals, Patriots). But, that’s not always the case. Many of the worst teams in the NFL saw some of the highest fan engagement, while some of the strongest teams struggled to convert that success into digital fan engagement. Have a look…


nfl social media

Facebook was the channel with the most direct correlation between winning percentage and social media engagement. One standout team on Facebook is the Kansas City Chiefs, who rivaled the almost undefeated Panthers in terms of audience engagement (7.44 vs. 7.47 engagement scores, respectively). The Jaguars had a pretty horrible season, so you wouldn’t expect much from their social presence, yet they rank in the top 25 percent for most engaging content on Facebook. Given the Steelers made the playoffs and have arguably some of the most die hard fans, they tanked on Facebook with one of the worst engagement rates.

Facebook Winners: Chiefs, Jaguars, Bills
Facebook Losers: Steelers, Colts, Lions


nfl social media

Twitter also showed a strong correlation between winning percentage and fan engagement on social. However, teams like the Cowboys, Raiders and Rams all saw incredibly high engagement rates given their measly win totals, particularly when compared to the Broncos and Seahawks, who you’d expect to be able to engage their audience more effectively.

Twitter Winners: Cowboys, Titans, Raiders
Twitter Losers: Texans, Broncos, Lions


nfl social media

Instagram was the biggest anomaly of the channels. There’s very little correlation between winning percentage and social engagement. Just look at the San Diego Chargers – abysmal record, but absolutely dominating fan engagement. Or even the Titans – worst record in the NFL, but in the top 50 percent in terms of engaging their fans. The Panthers, who dominate Facebook and Twitter, fell off here, while the Patriots and Packers have engagement rates correspondent to their well above-average records.

Instagram Winners: Chargers, Titans, Cowboys
Instagram Losers: Vikings, Broncos, Cardinals

TL;DR: Looking ahead to this weekend, the Panthers absolutely owned social media this season, while the Broncos struggled hard to engage their audience. Is this largely in part to the Panthers ability to spotlight superhuman/MVP quarterback Cam Newton? Maybe. But, if we were to use this analysis to predict a Super Bowl winner, we’re going to give it to the Panthers.

Questions, comments or want original files of these graphs? Tweet at Becca Lindegren @rjlindegren or send an email to [email protected].

This post was originally written by Becca Lindegren and published on

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