It’s no surprise that sports teams all over the world are realizing the power of 140 characters or less. Twitter allows organizations to keep their fan base updated on events, stories, and up to the minute scoring, which has resulted in a growth of the number of followers for certain teams. Teams in major sports markets have taken their exposure to the next level through Twitter, while teams in smaller markets are using this tool to propel themselves into the social media spotlight.
1. Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) 1,520,444 followers @Lakers
The Lakers know how to win basketball games— they’re in pursuit of back-to- back NBA championships. L.A. also knows how to take advantage of Twitter. It’s no surprise that the Lakers have such a massive following being one of the most popular NBA teams in one of the most populated cities in the world. They’ve maintained their followers by keeping fans entertained with postgame quotes from players and coaches. They also sustain followers through a constant flow of stories that will undoubtedly build an even larger following of Lakers fans on the Web.
2. Orlando Magic (NBA) 1,012,069 followers @Orlando_Magic
With zero NBA titles in the team’s history and playing in a smaller media market, how do the Magic trump teams like the Knicks or Bulls when it comes to Twitter? Incentives—the Magic are constantly promoting giveaway prizes via Twitter. When they secured their one-millionth follower, star player Dwight Howard flew the fan to Orlando on his own dime to catch a game. That’s reason enough to follow.
3. Philadelphia Phillies (MLB) 564,901 followers @Phillies
Playing in consecutive World Series didn’t hurt the Phillies in establishing the biggest Twitter following in the MLB. Credit to them for realizing that they are a team in its prime with a core of young stars like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and for engaging their fans with hourly Tweets that will help them maintain their place as the number one team using Twitter in the MLB.
4. Real Madrid (La Liga) 315,606 followers @realmadrid
Soccer’s popularity around the world is undeniable, but when it comes to Twitter, no other team comes close to Real Madrid. They understand Twitter’s international reach, and the sky is the limit when it comes to Real Madrid’s social media potential.
5. New York Yankees (MLB) 278,569 followers @Yankees
The Yankees are probably not on this list because of their social media prowess, but rather because they have such a large following around the world. That being said, when compared to their on-field rival the Boston Red Sox, who also have a major fan base but only have around 10,000 followers, the Yankees prove to have the upper hand both on the field and on Twitter.
6. Montreal Canadiens (NHL) 52,767 followers @CanadiensMTL
The NHL takes a backseat in popularity in the U.S. to the NFL, MLB, and NBA, but the Canadiens have managed to attract more followers on Twitter than any team in football. That being said, the Canadiens are their own religion in Montreal so this isn’t too surprising.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA) 49, 942 followers @Cavs
With arguably the game’s best and most compelling player in LeBron James, the Cavaliers have a little help in garnering a large Twitter following. Cleveland has a history of tough losses in sports, but the Cavaliers have really made an effort to rid the bad taste from fans’ mouths and bring them to the arena to watch their star play. If LeBron were to leave Cleveland in 2010, Twitter would become an even more important tool for the organization to maintain its popularity.
8. Boston Celtics (NBA) 41,855 followers @celtics
The Celtics glory years were way before the advent of Twitter, which means a lot of Boston fans are older. But, their large following shows that they have worked hard to attract the younger demographic through social media. With their recent success in the 2010 playoffs, they are quickly attracting more followers, and are making the right moves by offering ticket giveaways and other prizes to complement their growth.
9. New England Patriots (NFL) 38,870 followers @realpatriots
The NFL is covered year-round, and needs no help in getting fans to watch games on Sunday. They are seemingly lacking, however, when it comes to Twitter, as several teams at the beginning of the year didn’t even have Twitter accounts, and the majority of the teams in the NBA have more followers than the NFL’s most followed team, the Patriots. Props to New England for staying ahead.
10. San Diego Chargers (NFL) 37,177 followers @chargers
San Diego often gets lost amidst stories about the Cowboys, Steelers, and Giants throughout the regular season, only to emerge in January as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Chargers have also emerged as one of the NFL’s top teams using Twitter, and especially for a team that does not get a lot of national exposure, they are surely aware of the attention Twitter brings to their organization.
Some interesting points made on here. What I don't quite follow is there is a European team (Real) listed, but then there are other European teams with more than places 6-10, e.g. Liverpool @LFCTV (over 60,200 followers).
Thanks for the feedback. From what I understand, @LFCTV is a television network affiliated with the Liverpool FC, similar to YES with the Yankees of the MLB, and NESN with the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots. While @LFCTV has 75,000 followers, the Twitter account associated with the team itself, @liverpool, only had 25,000, which is why I didn't include them. Real Madrid is so far ahead in terms of followers, and have such a major following in comparison to other European teams that I chose to include them on the list.
http://ozziesport.com/2010/03/version-2-most-po… is a list of Australian related sports team popularity on Twitter. The sports teams there are much smaller in size compared to the leagues in the US. The market is just that much smaller and outside the NRL, most of the local leagues don't have the potential for an international audience.
It would be cool to see a version of this list featuring World Cup related Twitter accounts. The Socceroos are only at 1,965 followers. I've no idea how that compares to other teams like the All Whites and USMNT.
Great list, hope to see my Canucks on there in the next checkup. 26K and counting! 🙂
I meant to reply to this a while ago (actually when I was in Jeff's company). LFCTV is in fact Liverpool FC's own TV channel and official Twitter feed (@LFCTV), therefore it should be ranked in the above list. The other you mention, @liverpool, in not an official Liverpool FC Twitter account.
This may adjust your list somewhat, especially in view of your findings on Real Madrid.
I think there are a couple teams missing. the amount of followers doesn't matter as the quality. quality is always better than quantity. Teams need to interact at not just link back to there website. one example is @braves there killing it!
If you look at the number of Fans on Facebook, the social media spotlight looks completely different. There are 8 football teams in the top 10, Barca being the number one with 5.4 million fans. The only two teams outside football world are LA Lakers (#5) and New York Yankees (#8 currently, but based on the fan growth, they will be falling to #10 in few weeks).
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