How the research was conducted, surprises you may find
Hookit launched its data and measurement platform in 2013, and continuously tracks the posts, content and engagement of more than 500,000 entities. For this study, Hookit analyzed the more than 6.7 million social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that were made by 1,255 leagues, federations and teams from June 16, 2016, to June 15, 2017, and the 60.5 billion interactions and video views that resulted.
A first-of-its-kind composite score was then created that took into account a number of factors, such as how often fans viewed those posts, how often they shared them, average number of likes, the number of new followers that each property gained and many more.
The NBA had the highest score of the 225 leagues measured, leading the way in several key categories. For example, the study-topping 7.7 billion views and interactions that its posts generated were 1.5 million more than the combined similar efforts of the NFL, MLB, NHL, UFC, PGA Tour, MLS, NASCAR and WNBA.
However, simply posting a lot of content did not guarantee the NBA a No. 1 ranking among leagues. Many other factors went into the calculations.
For example, the English Premier League (which finished No. 2 in the league ranking) has 66.9 million followers, more than every property measured except the NBA, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United. The EPL did not top any category measured but was consistently among the top-seven properties no matter how Hookit sliced the data. Similarly, La Liga (No. 8) averaged more likes per each Facebook post than the NBA.
At the team level, Real Madrid finished on top, with Barcelona No. 2. In terms of social media followers, the two clubs were evenly matched across the three platforms (177.9 million overall for Real Madrid, 174.3 million for FC Barcelona). But Real Madrid’s 8,257 posts averaged 118,688 interactions. Barcelona’s 15,017 posts averaged less than one-third of that.
Domestically, the team rankings mirrored the recent NBA Finals, with the Golden State Warriors topping the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors (who finished No. 5 overall in the team study) averaged 3.8 million Twitter followers during the study, compared to Barcelona’s 21.5 million. However, the reigning NBA champion’s tweets averaged nearly 2,112 likes, 30 percent more than those made by the Spanish club.
You’ll see smaller properties ranked higher than you might expect. The World Surf League, for example, enjoyed 1.4 billion Facebook interactions and video views, two and a half times more than the EPL, despite having just one-sixth of the followers that the EPL boasts. Plus, a WSF video shot near the organization’s annual Western Australia event was the world’s most-watched video over the past year, drawing more than 121.3 million views.
Likewise, USA Gymnastics may seem out of place until you look at how well it does on each platform in interactions per post. For example, the NGB averaged 5,460 interactions per post, more than triple what the PGA Tour received.
The measurements are based on activity from each organization’s English-language accounts only. If a team or league has multiple accounts for various languages, only the English handle was used.