Who follows NHL clubs on Twitter?

Posted July 18th, 2011 by Pat Coyle   •   12 Comments   

NHL Fans on Twitter
Sports Marketing from Coyle Media, LLC.

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Who is following NHL fans on Twitter?

Over the past 18 months, sports teams have amassed huge followings on Facebook and Twitter. In an attempt to understand the fans following sports teams, Coyle Media has fielded a series of surveys in partnership with various professional and collegiate teams. We’ve collected over 12,000 completed surveys and learned a lot about sports fans and their social media preferences.

We are continually analyzing these data looking for insights. We’ve found it particularly interesting to see how fans behaviors can vary from sport to sport, and between various media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Team Websites.

The infographic above is a snapshot of one team’s survey data. We filtered the data and focused only on responses collected from Twitter followers (leaving out Facebook & Web surveys) to offer this glimpse into this fan segment. We’ve done the same with the Facebook data, and will release another (companion) infographic very soon. We hope readers will take time to compare the two sets of data for themselves.

To make the data easier to read, we broke it into three main sections: Demographics & tickets, Mobile & Social, and Sponsorship. These are not the only data collected, just the highlights.

Demographics & Tickets:

It’s not surprising that the majority of club followers are male, but it’s worth noting that the Twitter followers of this NHL club are more heavily male than Facebook followers (75% to 67%); Twitter followers are more likely to live inside the club’s DMA (65% to 54%); 78% of the Twitter followers who took the survey attended at least one game last season; 59% of those attendees used their own money to buy their tickets (not guests), and 8% are season ticket holders. These Twitter follower percentages are nearly identical to Facebook followers; Finally, a higher percentage of Twitter followers are avid fans than Facebook fans (87% to 67%). This might be explained simply by the fact that a higher percentage of women follow on Facebook than Twitter, and women are less likely to be avid.

Mobile & Social

Overall, Twitter followers are more likely to engage via mobile devices (e.g. SMS, check-in, multi-screening) than Facebook followers, but both Twitter and Facebook fans are much more likely to own smartphones than the U.S. average, and both groups check their social media accounts frequently and are very likely to be multi-screeners.

In addition, it’s interesting to note the various behavioral buckets these fans place themselves into. Just 1/3 of these fans consider themselves ‘spectators’ online, and only 1% are ‘inactive.’ If this is true, then this group of fans is far more likely than the average online person to engage with and / or create content.


Team fans who also follow brands via social seem to be influenced very positively by their experiences in social media. More than 90% of Facebook and 94% of Twitter followers are more likely to purchase a product as a result of following a brand. This could bode well for teams who involve sponsors in activation via team social channels.

Overall, while this survey is not scientific, a few things seem clear from our analysis of all the data:

1. Not all social fans are created equal – Some live nearby and purchase tickets, others are remote. Some prefer Facebook, others Twitter. This seems to indicate that teams could improve marketing results via database segmentation and direct marketing to choice fan segments.

2. Social fans are mobile fans – When a social channel is preferred (over the Web), a majority of that activity is done via mobile device. This would indicate that teams should step up their efforts in the mobile arena ASAP.

3. Social fans are AVID fans – Generally speaking, avid fans are more likely to buy team products, more likely to respond to sponsor offers, more likely to be interested in team content (year round) than average fans. Avid fans are more likely to check-in, subscribe to team news products, attend team events and they are more likely to create and / or share team content than average fans.

The future is here today

More than 50% of social fans are Gen Y, which means they’ve grown up and / or grown accustomed to digital media. These fans’ expectations are being formed by the experiences they’re having with other brands (outside sports). Based on these experiences, fans are more-and-more coming to EXPECT their favorite teams to allow them to engage with the team via social / mobile, and are likely to grow frustrated quickly if they are prevented from doing so. Teams should consider these facts when planning their customer service initiatives as well as their content, and inbound / outbound marketing strategies via digital channels.

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12 Responses

  1. Pat – thanks for this. Interesting stuff.

  2. Nick Truelson says:


    Fantastic insight into who are NHL fans. This content gives the NHL outstanding information to not only share with current and potential sponsors but also provides the NHL & teams a snapshot of who their fans are and the best platforms to engage with them on. It also shows the huge growth in mobile use by fans and why engaging with fans via their platform of choice will be critical to engaging with them first and foremost and utlimately turning them transactional whether they are at the game or watching from home.

    • Pat Coyle says:

      And I would think you’d agree, Nick, that NHL fans behave similarly to AFL fans in terms of their social media preferences. Yes?

      • Nick Truelson says:


        AFL fans are becoming much more SM savvy with FB clearly ahead of Twitter from a numbers point of view. Saying that now over a third of AFL players are now on Twitter, hence this platform will only increase as more fans become more connected with the players.

  3. [...] Who follows NHL clubs on Twitter? – Coyle MediaPeople love infographics, so here’s one describing how Twitter users interact with NHL teams and each other. [...]

  4. [...] Coyle Media has created a great info-graphic providing insight into the demographics, behaviors and affinity of fans that follow NHL teams on Twitter. Take a look… [...]

  5. [...] data gathered via a survey of NHL fans following a specific club on Facebook. Check out this companion infographic to see how Twitter followers of the same club answered these same [...]

  6. Ann Pegoraro says:

    Great info-graphics!! and great insight into how NHL fans use social media and who they are. Keep ‘em coming.

  7. [...] And also more information could be found on this link. [...]

  8. Pat,
    Nice work love use of infographic to present survey results, sure beats a 50 page report to read (which is needed) but is perfect for the 140 character era.

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