Seattle’s Football Teams: How do our hooligan Sounders stack up to the Seahawks social powerhouse on Twitter?

This match-up may seem crazy—as everyone knows, Seattle’s outspoken Seahawks have just won America’s favorite sports championship decisively; they’re the focus of non-stop off-season coverage; and they’ve got the very best cornerback of all time (especially against mediocre receivers). The Sounders, on the other hand, are participants in the sport America still loves to hate—and while Drew Carey’s urban achievers are certainly having a good year, they’re not having a good enough year to turn that hate around.

That said, I’m going to use social media analytics to feel out a hypothesis I have, thinking aloud as I write this blog. While the Seahawks are sure to have a larger engagement level than the Sounders, I hypothesize that the Sounders will have a higher-quality, more engaged following.

Let’s get this first point over with

First, let’s investigate the overall size of social engagement with the Sounders versus the Seahawks. Having not yet driven into the numbers, I’m expecting something like a tenfold difference between Sounders and Seahawks social engagement.

My first foray into the numbers comes from Topsy, and gives us Twitter activity for the last month:


This is about what I expected. The Seahawks tweets peak around the preseason and draft activity; the Sounders peak around their games (although I’m surprised at the peak for 5/10, since it’s my understanding that they didn’t play). Here are the aggregated numbers for that time period:


I predicted a tenfold difference here. 322,923 / 46,822 = 6.9 (approx), so the Sounders are actually doing better than I thought in terms of raw twitter engagement!

Next, let’s dig into fan-facing quality

Now that we’ve got an idea of the difference of the Twitter engagement, let’s try to get some ideas on how well each of the teams engages their followers. In this arena, I’m mostly interested in the content being pushed out from each team in Twitter, and how their followers react to it in general. When we investigate the teams’ followers, we can use this information to determine both how hard each team works to maintain it’s follower base, and how effective each team’s strategy has been at cultivating the right follower base.

I’m going to use Followerwonk for these comparisons, mostly because I can.

First, let’s look at the Seahawks. Here’s the Followerwonk summary of the Seahawks Twitter activity:


The Seahawks have gained massive Social Authority and have an incredible amount of followers. The Retweets, @Contacts give us an idea of their interaction on Twitter.Rather than just pushing out their own content, 44% of all of their activity are Retweets. Now would be a good time to mention that the Seahawks (and the NFL in general) has been profoundly effective in getting players and coaches to engage with the fanbase via Twitter, so many of these retweets are still originating from the Seahawks, just not the official Twitter account.

A look at recent Seahawks RTs suggests this may be correct:


How does @SoundersFC stack up?


Fewers Retweets and more @Contacts. My suspicion here is that this represents a less-engaged player/coaching staff (fewer retweets) and a more engaged fanbase (@Contacts). A quick look at the most recent tweets does NOT back this up. Apparently all the @Contacts are directed at @Oba_Martins. By the way, did you see that freaking goal?

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Now let’s look at their followers

Again, I’m going to use Moz’s Followerwonk for this, mostly because it’s awesome.

For this, I’m going to compare three aspects of followerdom:

  1. How interactive is their follower base on Twitter (via %age of retweets)
  2. How engaged is their follower base on Twitter (via total # of tweets)
  3. Twitter bio word clouds (because I can)

%age of Retweets

This one came out pretty interesting, and begins to confirm my suspicions that the Sounders followerbase is perhaps higher quality.





First things first, it’s important to mention that these breakdowns don’t add up to 100%. That means that we’re not looking at a breakdown of ALL followers, just of ones that have retweets on their timelines. Next, why do retweets matter? They’re a good indicator of how likely someone is to retweet (and therefore amplify) your own posts. If you have a user that retweets 75-100% of all posts they make, they’re much more likely to retweet you than someone who only retweets 1-5% of the time (ceteris paribus, natch).

So, all that being said, what the heck is this saying? It’s saying that 1.1% of all Sounders followers retweet at least 10% of the time, compared to .7% for the Seahawks followers. In short, a Sounders tweet is more likely to get tweeted by a higher percentage of their followers.

Total # of Tweets

More interesting numbers and more evidence that Sounders fans are more engaged!





In this case, the Sounders’ average number of follower tweets is almost exactly 300 more than the Seahawks. Another way to look at this is that 25.64% of the Sounder’s followers have over 1k tweets (a milestone that indicates quite regular Twitter use). The same figure of the Seahawks is 22.2%. Again, this indicates a potentially more valuable followerbase on Twitter.


Finally, these things speak for themselves. We’ll be looking at the most popular words to appear in follower bios for each team.





First things first, Seattle sports fans are clearly romantics—look at all that love! Secondly, I will argue that this again provides evidence for the Sounder’s follower base being a bit more valuable. In this case, Soccer is the top word in the tag cloud, validating that followers are, indeed, soccer fans above all else. This is not the case for the Seahawks: football is #6 in their tag cloud, behind the tell-tale “follow” keyword of bot fame. Hell, Sounders fans even have Football ranked above follow!


These findings are not an indictment of Seahawks fans, or proof that Sounders fans are, without-a-doubt more engaged. Nevertheless, they do show contrast in the differences in the audience. While the Seahawks can afford to have less engaged followers given their giant audience, the Sounders rely on activating their base to fuel worldwide attendance records for a sport not well appreciated by much of the American audience.


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