Facebook and football. These are two things aren’t typically paired with one another, but the influence they share is absolutely undeniable. When you think about it, they actually have the same roots and path to success: both started out as small time businesses that exploded into billion dollar empires — Zuckerberg just managed to do it a lot faster.
However when it comes to growing a market, both the NFL and Facebook are masters at using their powers together for the better good of everyone.
According to a research study that gauged the NFL’s influence on Facebook, 35 million people have liked one of the 32 official NFL team pages which means 1 in 10 Americans have pledged their loyalty to an NFL franchise by clicking a little ‘Like’ button. But the real question is how many fans are becoming new fans of a given team due to Facebook?
Have you ever wondered who you neighbor really roots for? NFL rivalries are an intense thing, but thanks to Facebook we can finally map out exactly who roots for who and where they do it.
It’s not hard to figure out who people in the Pacific Northwest or fans who live in Minnesota root for, but for regions with more teams in the general viewing area, the allegiance becomes a lot more ambiguous.
While entire states seem to be loyal to a single team, there are numerous individual counties within a state that break off and form their own loyalties. Almost the entire state of North Dakota pledges allegiance to the Vikings, but one brave county bleeds green and yellow while another is a surprisingly comprised of mostly Steelers fans.
One thing the NFL prides itself on is loyal fanbases and a sense of community within those fanbases. This study only reinforces how fractured and insanely loyal different parts of the country are.
But while it’s easy to paint an entire county a certain NFL color, not everyone within that county goes with the grain. Within every friend circle, there’s always one or two people that root for another team, which begs the question: which NFL fan bases interact on the most consistent basis?
Some of the fan-friendships are easy to figure out, like Vikings fans and Packers fans mingling among one another or Raiders and 49ers fans bumping into each other on a regular basis. A lot of this has to do with the geography of NFL fan bases and where the teams play, but while geography does play a role in fan-friendships, it isn’t always required.
Basically everyone knows a Cowboys fan in some capacity. Turns out they really are America’s team.
So how does this all factor in to NFL fanbases growing due to Facebook? Besides obvious factors like playoff wins (a team that wins a playoff game grows by about 7,000 new fans), most fans of an NFL team are friends with someone who roots for a non-rivalry team. Unless you’re truly cold hearted, you tend to want your friends team to win if it doesn’t affect your team. So if you’re a fan of the Colts, and they don’t play the Cowboys, but your friend is a fan of the Cowboys, chances are you’re keeping an eye on that score to see how Dallas does.
It’s as simple as that.
Beyond simply ‘Liking’ a page, Facebook has opened up a whole new angle to fandom in the NFL. Sure, you may not be as loyal to a friends fan base as you are to your own, but as long as you’re paying attention you’re helping stimulate the growth of NFL fanbases.
Like it or not, that’s the power of Facebook and it’s influence on the NFL.