There are a lot of people who still don't understand the value of social media, but among them you won't find many representatives from Major League Baseball. Not only are there scores of players and agencies who've made themselves active and accessible online; every single team in the bigs has both a Twitter and a Facebook account, at the very least. These accounts aren't run by the front offices and they don't lend particular insight into, say, what moves might be upcoming, or on moves that have already been made, but they do get information out there quickly, and more, they allow for the development of an online community. Fans can chat around team Twitter accounts, and they can interact on team Facebook pages. They can make suggestions for future promotions. They can view behind-the-scenes pictures and videos. And so on.
But not all Major League Baseball teams are equally popular, so it stands to reason that the same extends to their social-media accounts. So I've decided to collect all the data - current as of around 10:00am PDT on May 10 - to see which teams are farthest ahead, and which teams are bringing up the rear. In the (hopefully) sortable table below, you'll find Twitter follower count, Facebook fan count, and Facebook fan/Twitter follower ratio for all 30 teams. Please join me on this invigorating journey through the choppy Sea of Knowledge.
Half the teams in baseball occupy the broad sweet spot between 10,000-25,000 followers. At the top, though, there's astonishing imbalance, as the Yankees and Phillies together have more followers than every other team in baseball combined. And they don't just have more followers - they have 160,000 more followers. I'm active on Twitter and I've remarked before on how Phillies news always seems to trend, and I think I've figured out why. Their humble little official Twitter account, which is nothing but a series of links, is being watched by more eyes than a cricket in a spider hatchery.
Battling for last place, meanwhile, are the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Astros and Marlins. Sometimes things will surprise you. More often, they will not.
Facebook is more popular than Twitter, so it should come as no surprise that the average Facebook page has more than 17 times more followers than the average team's Twitter account. Here, we see our sweet spot roughly between 200,000-600,000 fans. At the top, again, there's imbalance, and two teams are blowing all the others out of the water, but this time it's the Yankees and Red Sox instead of the Yankees and Phillies. At the bottom, we have the Marlins, Diamondbacks and Nationals. Hurting the Diamondbacks is that, instead of the word "Diamondbacks", their official URL contains the word "D-Backs". They are the only team in baseball whose Facebook page doesn't include their official nickname. Also hurting the Diamondbacks is that they are unpopular.
This column was only included out of curiosity on my part, but it does reveal a few interesting figures. The Marlins, for example, are 37 times more popular on Facebook than on Twitter, and just behind them are the Red Sox, at 32x. At the other end, while the Phillies dominate the Twitterverse, they rank fifth in Facebook popularity, with only 1.4 times as many fans on the latter as the former. Given what we all understand to be true about Phillies fans, it's possible that many of them prefer Twitter over Facebook because they don't want prospective employers to see pictures of them drunk and mad. I don't know how to explain the Marlins thing, except that their official Twitter account may be bad, while their official Facebook page may be less bad. I'm just giving you the numbers. It's not my job to interpret them.
I don't have a conclusion, because this wasn't an experiment - this was just an exploration, and all the evidence really serves to support is that popular teams are popular online, and less popular teams are less popular online. What will be fun is seeing how these numbers change over the weeks and months to come. Stay tuned. You have not seen the last of this!