Best Accounts in
Major League Social Media
For the sports superfan, the advent of social media has allowed unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to major leagues and teams. Today, casual posts cover a wide range of topics that bring fans closer to the day-to-day life of athletes, ranging from snapshots of a dinner plate to sponsored content on the latest Nike shoes.
Historically, such personal insights were reserved for documentaries from major broadcasters like ESPN or even autobiographies penned by athletes after their heyday. But today, fans have immediate access to breaking news and major announcements—many times from teams, athletes, and leagues themselves.
Via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, professionals in the world of sports aren’t just posting about themselves. They’re also engaging with fans on a more meaningful level than ever before. Whether connecting with charitable groups or giving a superfan a shoutout, the line between major league sports and fans has never been thinner.
From the NFL to MLS, major leagues have their own accounts. These are followed by franchises within the leagues and then broken down by major athletes in each franchise (or, in the case of the PGA and WTA, straight to athlete accounts).
But that’s not all. Most major sports publications and talk shows have their own accounts. And, depending on the state, some sportsbooks are even jumping into the arena to offer key insights from top pundits. For example, any in-depth FanDuel sportsbook review will note that the sportsbook is the most popular in the US, but a look at social media paints a better picture.
Today, the sportsbook has over 1 million likes on Facebook and over 90,000 followers on Twitter. Historically, however, FanDuel also paid out major bucks for TV advertising rather than investing in social media platforms.
In late 2016, they spent over $20 million on over 7,500 airings, according to the Wall Street Journal. But today, most of that advertising happens for free via social media platforms, where fans can share stories and posts from their favorite accounts. Let’s take a look at the best accounts in the world of US sports.
Stacy Samuels, The Banjo Man
Stacy ‘Banjo Man’ Samuels has been part of San Francisco’s NFL scene since 1983. The superfan of the San Francisco 49ers has a Facebook account (as a ‘public figure’) where both he and his fans share their favorite videos of his escapades, in which he plays “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” to the delight of fans at Levi Stadium.
Samuels is also famous for his outfit, which resembles a superhero costume. To top it off is his propeller beanie. His superfan fame has helped him sell more than two million throughout his career to the likes of people like President Obama and Bob Dylan.
As the official sixth man (in the stands) for the Boston Celtics, Aztec Gino uses the flair he picked up traveling the world and participating in carnivals to enliven other fans. Since 2008, he’s been a standard feature at the Garden.
Not only does Aztec Gino have a live Twitter account, but also his own website.
Best Athlete Profiles
Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets (NBA)
With one of the most iconic NBA careers of his generation, it’s no surprise that Kevin Durant’s charisma and dynamism translates well to social media. Though international soccer superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi take the lion’s share of followers, stars like Durant don’t have to worry about curating their feed.
Instead, fans are treated to some of the most candid and hilarious thoughts from one of basketball’s greatest stars today, like his 2012 shout out to Rihanna when he asked the pop star to sing him happy birthday. She didn’t.
Chris Long, NFL
Though he retired in 2018, Chris Long’s Twitter account remains one of the funniest ways to keep up with the NFL. During his heyday on the gridiron, the defensive lineman was known for his lack of filter.
However, Long is also known for supporting social justice issues through his Twitter account. He even donated his entire 2017 salary to charity, then went on a comedic Twitter rant about it.
Best Team Accounts
As aforementioned, major league teams’ presence on social media is one of the simplest ways to engage with fans and stay relevant. However, some teams have taken their Twitter and Instagram accounts to new heights.
Minnesota Vikings, NFL
One keyway the Vikings have developed their fan engagement online is through their #VikingQuest initiative. The hashtag allows fans to follow one another but is also a stop-animation series that the franchise puts on before and after each game.
Since launching, the #VikingQuest campaign has led to some interesting superfan fads, like recording their own Viking calls and taking photos wearing their Vikings helmets.
New York Red Bulls, MLS
While Vikings capitalized on quirky ways to get fans involved with the team, the Red Bulls have instead used social media to create documentary-style videos about the team. Not only do the videos cover the day-to-day realities behind the US’s budding soccer league, but they also follow certain players as they travel home.
In addition to giving fans intimate looks at the lives behind top athletes, they also run their own breaking news, stadium, and VIP member accounts that cater to different fan needs.
The Leading League
Though the NFL leads US major sports in terms of revenue and the MLB sells out the most season ticket seats, it’s the US’s basketball league that boasts the largest social media following. With 32.2 million followers on Twitter, the league easily surpasses the NFL’s 26.1 million, the MLB’s 8.7 million, and the NHL’s 6.3 million fans.
So how does the NBA come out ahead? The answer is simple: the NBA produces more superstar athletes than any other US league. With only fifteen players on a roster, each franchise has its own superstar that draws in new fans and stokes engagement.
Additionally, the NBA shares a ton of content for fans—which even includes video games like their NBA 2K series and retail fashion, like their City Edition Nike jersey lines. By providing fans multiple ways in which to interact with the league and then promoting these endeavors on social media, the NBA has nurtured a strong fanbase.