One of the best ways to predict momentum towards the season is by digging into the Social Media followings of the XFL and its teams. While Social Media following can’t capture the true fanbase size and can’t give a complete picture of attendance expectations, it can show what teams are capturing the excitement of their cities.
The XFL has been moving forward with a really smart marketing strategy, in my opinion. You saw that in action on Monday when the XFL announced their official league footballs. Each individual team gave footballs wrapped like Thanksgiving Turkey’s to national and local sports influencers.
If you follow the official team accounts (you should if you don’t) you’ll see that they’ve utilized effective gorilla marketing at populated events, mobile billboard advertisements, and partnerships with key local media for their markets. This is all pushed forward by experienced sports industry marketing professionals that the league and teams have hired. All that marketing leads to interaction on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook Social Media channels.
So, what cities are making the most noise on these channels and what are some highlights?
Twitter: @XFLRenegades 25,900 Followers
Facebook: 11,163 “Likes”
Instagram: @XFLRenegades 15,300 Followers
This is a strong following for the Dallas Renegades at this point in the process. Dallas, obviously one of the top NFL markets, is showing a thirst for Spring football. Dallas is likely benefiting from its prominent Head Coach and Oklahoma legend Quarterback. Expect a continuous rise in audience as the Dallas Cowboys inevitably disappoint their fanbase (*Boom*)
Twitter: @XFLRoughnecks 20,500 Followers
Facebook: 8,643 “Likes”
Instagram: @XFLRoughnecks 13,700 Followers
Houston shows a strong social following here. The Roughnecks account has been utilizing the local media better than some of the other teams.
Twitter: XFLDefenders 19,800 Followers (Has grown several hundred since my previous look several hours ago)
Facebook: 4,100 “Likes”
Instagram: @XFLDefenders 12,600 Followers
DC continues to show an engaged and active fanbase. With the Washington Redskins organization floundering, it is clear that the fanbase is exploring the ramifications of Spring Football. The DC Defender social accounts are boosted by its player-centered approach, with players being the focus of their content. They’re also boosted by likely starting Quarterback Cardale Jones, arguably the most engaged, active, and followed player in the league.
Twitter: XFLWildcats 14,200 Followers
Facebook: 3,900 “Likes”
Instagram: @XFLwildcats 12,400 Followers
LA is easily the XFL’s most difficult market, with the weakest Social Media following to complement it. LA has trouble supporting its two NFL franchises, so Spring Football in LA is not automatic. With all of that said, LA has one of the best business executive teams in the league, led by team President Heather Karatz. They also recently drafted NFL veteran Quarterback Josh Johnson , who should drive more attention to the team.
Twitter: XFLDragons 19,600 Followers
Facebook: 7,269 “Likes”
Instagram: @XFLDragons 14,600 Followers
The Seattle Dragons have a solid following, based around local media partnerships and Seattle Seahawks legend, Jim Zorn, being its Head Coach. Expect the following to grow significantly once games start on the national TV partner’s flagship stations.
NEW YORK GUARDIANS
Twitter: XFLGuardians 17,700 Followers
Facebook: 4,783 “Likes”
Instagram: @XFLGuardians 12,900 Followers
The New York Guardians will have a slower increase to its Social Media following, as its in the most competitive sports market in the world. Like Seattle, expect an increase in following once the games appear on national TV.
TAMPA BAY VIPERS
Twitter: XFLVipers 18,400 Followers
Facebook: 7,000 “Likes”
Instagram: @XFLVipers 12,900 Followers
This is an extremely encouraging Social Media following for a smaller professional sports market. Expect a strong showing from some fed up Buccaneers fans that are intrigued by the concept of Spring Football.
ST. LOUIS BATTLEHAWKS
Twitter: XFLBattlehawks 31,400 Followers
Facebook: 13,000 “Likes”
Instagram: XFLBattlehawks 20,200 Followers
Here you go, the team with the largest following across the board. St. Louis, the single market that lacks an NFL franchise is showing real support for its new Spring football franchise. I don’t think its too premature to expect this team to lead the league in average attendance.
Twitter: @XFL2020 164,500 Followers
Facebook: 86,563 “Likes”
Instagram: XFL2020 136,000 Followers
The League has a stronger following this far before the beginning of the season and nationally televised games than the defunct AAF. As the marketing strategy escalates and reaches its next phase, the following of the league on Social Media should naturally increase. These numbers show that this league is doing something right and that market for Spring Football, proven many times over, still exists.
Here are some competing Twitter accounts for comparison:
CFL : 294,300 Followers
Toronto Argonauts : 132,100 Followers
San Diego Fleet: 27,500 Followers – Notice that the St.Louis Battlehawks is already outperforming them.
San Antonio Commanders: 37,500 Followers – The cream of the crop of AAF fanbases (attendance-wise) and the Battlehawks are catching up
Premier Lacrosse League: 47,400 Followers – The professional lacrosse league approaching its second season with nationally televised games on NBC.
Chaos Lacrosse Club: 8,100 Followers – One of the professional lacrosse clubs in the PLL.
Major League Lacrosse: 85,100 Followers – The long-established professional lacrosse league is lagging way behind the XFL.
Chesapeake Bayhawks: 15,200 Followers – A championship-winning lacrosse club with deep community connections is lagging well behind multiple XFL franchises.
Minor League Baseball: 211,600 Followers – Minor League Baseball, one of the most established sports entities in the country, will likely be surpassed in following as the regular season begins.
As you can see, with the stage the league is at, its following is likely surpassing expectations. Expect boosts in the league following with uniform and helmet announcements, minicamps and training camps, and further player movement. The league is certainly in capable hands of Marketing, Social Media, and Digital Media innovators.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Konnor Fulk excelled in the Sports Management Program at Georgia Southern University. He spent several seasons working with the Washington Redskins in fan engagement, strategy, and sales strategy. Additionally, Mr. Fulk continues consulting services across the sport of NASCAR. Konnor has a longstanding obsession with the concept of Spring Football and is looking forward to sharing his expertise and opinions about the XFL relaunch. Connect with Konnor on LinkedIN or give him a follow on Twitter @XFLKonnor
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