Entertainment - Written by on Thursday, August 27, 2009 9:20 - 11 Comments

Denis Hancock
Starting the comparison of NBA teams on Twitter

A couple of weeks ago I explained why how the NBA – the league, the teams, the players – uses Twitter would be a fascinating and fun research topic. With the help of my colleague Yuan Ding, we’ve been slowly building the data set for this research, with an early focus placed on comparisons between the “official” Twitter accounts for each of the 30 NBA franchises.What makes this data interesting is that while comparing one company to another is inherently difficult (since business models, brand positioning, etc. vary so widely), the underlying objectives of each of the 30 NBA teams should be more or less the same. In turn, if (say) the popularity of different team accounts vary widely, we have a bit more of a “controlled experiment” in which to explore the reasons why.

While we haven’t had time to get into much of the analysis yet, I think we’ll have a lot to work with – the popularity of different team accounts do vary widely.  Using simple follower counts as a starting point (we’re working on a “fan score” to index these I’ll talk about another time, but the basic idea is to account for the fact small market teams should naturally have a smaller audience), here’s the raw statistics on a 29 team sample (Golden State was excluded do to lack of use) as of August 12th:

  • Average number of followers: 49,877
  • Median number of followers: 7,871
  • Lowest number of followers: 2,921
  • Highest number of followers: 782,019 (has since grown to 875,510 and counting)

Those that remember being in stats 101 may note that the massive difference between the average and the median implies a skewed distribution – which is absolutely the case here. Of the 29 teams in the sample, 27 of them had less than 20,300 followers. The top two had 431,920 and 782,109 – or twenty to forty times more than the third place team. That seems like a difference with exploring.

These top two teams are… The L.A Lakers and The Orlando Magic. Notably, these are the two teams that made the NBA finals. Thus, we conclude that being active on Twitter means your team will win :) . Just kidding of course – but this is going to be an interesting thing to dig into. While intuitively it makes sense that the more successful teams will be more popular (etc.), it’s hard to fathom there would be a 20 to 40 fold difference that stemmed from simply making the finals. Did perhaps the NBA start marketing the teams Twitter accounts for the first time during the finals? Don’t know – yet. But hope to figure it out.

The reason we need to figure it out, of course, is that while “being good at what you do will lead to more Twitter followers” is an important point, what we really want to isolate is the effect of how different teams use their accounts to acquire more followers, deepen customer engagement, etc. To find clues into where to look, we started looking for teams who’s Twitter follower counts (either the straight number, or adjusted for franchise value) seemed to stick out as possible anomalies.

Overall, if you look at the list it is pretty predictable – successful teams (and those in bigger markets) tend to have more followers, unsuccessful ones (and those in smaller markets) less followers. For example, after LA and Orlando, the next three are Cleveland, Chicago, and Boston (all in the 17,000 to 20,000 range) – Lebron, big market, last year’s champ / big market. But the next team is the first one that sticks out a bit – the Phoenix Suns. They didn’t make the playoffs, the market isn’t THAT big, and they have the 6th most followers. That is one account definitely worth exploring. But on the “good” side of things, the team that REALLY stands out is the LA Clippers. To put it mildly, they’re not known for having great fan support, the team has been bad for quite a long time (and some say cursed), they have one of the lowest franchise values in the league… they’re by far the worst team that’s in the top-10 of Twitter followers. Interesting.

Then there’s the bottom of the list, and I’m sad to report that the biggest anomaly is easy to find – my hometown Toronto Raptors. Of the 29 teams examined in the sample, they have the absolute fewest followers – which doesn’t really make sense due to market size, popularity, etc. As noted in the last post, their official account is a peculiar one – Raptors_web_guy – who’s bio is “Coding HTML, Creatin’ Graphics, Cutting Videos all with my finger on the pulse in Raptors Nation.” Let’s just say it doesn’t appear the team is into this twitter thing – even though their best player is all over it – and it shows.

So that’s just a sprinkling of some of the top line numbers and what’s starting to stick out – over time we’ll be digging into how the different accounts are used, types of messages sent, how they’re integrated into the team’s overall web presence, whether or not players are involved or not, what other companies can learn, etc. If you have any thoughts on this – or what we should be digging into – please let me know (here, at my website, @denisbhancock, etc.).



11 Comments

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Starting the Comparison of NBA teams on Twitter | Google Web Business
Aug 27, 2009 10:46

[...] players – uses Twitter would be a fascinating and fun research topic. Read the rest here: Starting the Comparison of NBA teams on Twitter google web business Related PostsAugust 27, 2009 — Pay Per Click Marketing -Crucial Traffic [...]

Morning Coffee Aug 28 – Raptors Republic - Raptors Blog ESPN TrueHoop
Aug 28, 2009 7:50

[...] Wikinomics Then there’s the bottom of the list, and I’m sad to report that the biggest anomaly is easy to find – my hometown Toronto Raptors. Of the 29 teams examined in the sample, they have the absolute fewest followers – which doesn’t really make sense due to market size, popularity, etc. As noted in the last post, their official account is a peculiar one – Raptors_web_guy – who’s bio is “Coding HTML, Creatin’ Graphics, Cutting Videos all with my finger on the pulse in Raptors Nation.” Let’s just say it doesn’t appear the team is into this twitter thing – even though their best player is all over it – and it shows. [...]

Steve
Aug 28, 2009 10:25

And one can hope that the twits fade from our memory.

Never has so much, been said by so many, in so few words, that means so little!

EarthJuice
Aug 28, 2009 10:53

As a Raptors fan, who follows all Raptors news related accounts on Twitter, I am shocked to find out here that the Raps even have an official Twitter account. Let alone one called Raptors_web_guy.

How can the Raptors official Twitter account be Raptors_web_guy?

This is an account for a guy. Not a team.

Did web_guy annoint himself the official Raptors account?

He must have.

I would guess that 99% of Raptors Twitter people are as dumbfounded as I am, as we, as a group, probably have the largest following of ANY team, with regards to all things Raptor.

Lest I annoint my Twitter account the Official Raptors account, I suggest that MLSE get their poop together and create a real offical account. Perhaps something along the lines of Toronto_Raptors.

They clearly dropped the ball on this.

Raptors_web_guy? Pfft!

Gimme a break.

James Ballswin (Realizar)
Aug 28, 2009 16:39

The #1 Raptors-related Twitter site within the Raptors fan community belongs to Raptors Republic since they (we) provide the most comprehensive daily Raptors news wire.

http://twitter.com/raptorsrepublic

See for yourselves.

Cam
Aug 30, 2009 1:49

I think a part of the Raptors’ problem is Twitter’s lack of momentum in Canada. Among the people I know, who tend to be pretty tech-savvy, Twitter’s popularity ranks somewhere between Dr. Conrad Murray and hangnails.

Wikinomics: Starting the Comparison of NBA teams on Twitter: BLOGS WITH BALLS
Aug 31, 2009 10:19

[...] Hancock at Wikinomics begins the breakdown of statiscial analysis of each team’s use of Twitter. Overall, if you look at the list it is pretty predictable – successful teams (and those in [...]

Denis
Aug 31, 2009 15:04

Thanks for the comments everyone. Key lesson here is that The Sports Guy is right – The Raptors Truthers are everywhere! Not sure what to say to the Doctor vs. hang nail thing though…

Wikinomics» Blog Archive » The NFL – The Most Protective League, Attempting to Control the Uncontrollable
Sep 16, 2009 7:56

[...] off of my colleague Denis Hancock’s work on the NBA and Twitter, I thought it was only appropriate to look across other professional sports leagues to see how they [...]

chappel
Dec 19, 2009 0:57

Media and social site are very popular for the knowing about rank of anything, So i agree with comparison of NBA team on twitter but i think you work on other kind of sports also…Thanks.

Dual Action Cleanse
Dec 26, 2009 2:26

I think it’s fair to say that the Phoenix stat isn’t as complexing as Hancock indicates. Simply put – they had the biggest hoops star in Twitterverse on a team who encouraged the usage and dedciated staff and resources to using it as a viable, interactive communications tool.

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