Author Archives: Michael

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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What are you doing to #GiveBig on May 6th?



Do you know about The Seattle Foundation’s Give Big campaign? Head over to the King County Hunger blog to learn more about the food-security nonprofits participating in #GiveBig and find an organization to support!


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Social Media at the King County Emergency Feeding Program

The King County Emergency Feeding Program provides an infrastructure of feeding support to non-profits, government offices and other distributors of food to food-insecure audiences through pre-prepared, culturally targeted food bags and kits. As a supporter of key local hunger non-profits, it’s essential that the Emergency Feeding Program get attention and funding from the public. I had the opportunity to sit down with a board member from the program to discuss their social media participation and got some key takeaways.

Content Calendaring

The Feeding Program does have a content calendar, with most content supporting ongoing fundraising activities and events. A quick look at their most recent Twitter feed confirms this:


This content is mostly repeated on Facebook and supplemented through a robust email newsletter.


The primary contributor to all digital content is the Emergency Feeding Program’s Outreach Coordinator, who handles all social media and newsletter activties.

The Message

Most of the Emergency Feeding Program’s activity is focused on either driving traffic to fundraising events or thanking fundraising contributors after events. The message is largely, “We need money, so thank you for giving it to us.” There is also some light content regarding the mission of the program, but this is not as clearly front-and-center in the program’s content.

Target Audience

As the content is mostly related to fundraising, the Emergency Feeding Program is trying to reach potential and previous donors, particularly those who want to see the results of their giving or are considering giving to the program.


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Rideshare Showdown: Lyft, Uber and the Social Arena

As a Seattleite, the rideshare companies Lyft and Uber—and the Seattle City Council’s vote to cap their driving hordes—have recently become a part of my daily discourse. Well, that’s not entirely true; as an Eastsider I occasionally condescended to listen to local NPR pieces about the city council’s vote in an effort to better understand the rabble across the lake.

Nevertheless, the differences and similarities in both companies’ approach to social media reveals a story far more fascinating than that of a simple city council vote. In fact, it’s a tale as old as time; a tale of the army of black-clad SUVs hinting at a Kafkaesque authoritarian state against the pink-mustachioed rebels leading a charismatic fight and possibly holed up in Alderaan.

Perhaps I’m getting carried away. In any case, the two companies use similar social media in very different ways, and it shows two very different companies in an industry that has traditionally been treated as a commodity.


Both Uber and Lyft compete primarily in the same social media spaces. Namely, these have been Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and their own blog. One important difference to note is the structure of these accounts: Uber has local accounts for many of their locations whereas Lyft predominately operates from a global account in the Twitter/Facebook arena.

In an effort to perform an apples-to-apples comparison, I’ve stuck mostly to comparing the global accounts to one another, and it’s likely that this has skewed my observation.

Let’s get on with it…

Here’s A Table

A breakdown of social statistics for Uber and Lyft. If you're using a screen reader, be grateful you're not subjected to the hideous cell colors.

As promised, a table

As you can see in this aforementioned table, Uber is the clear front runner in terms of pure audience. With nearly 300% of the followers on Twitter and over 200% of the likes on Facebook, this comparison should be open and shut—on every platform Uber has a bigger audience.

With that said, the activity shows a different story. On their Blog and YouTube Uber does little to segregate their two main audiences—drivers and riders. This means  a somewhat schizophrenic portfolio of content, where messages to Uber Partners (drivers) are mixed largely with roll outs to new cities . This is particularly important because Uber’s blog is its one of their most heavily-used content channels.

On the other hand, Lyft is more active in nearly all categories (the exceptions being their blog, in which Uber is significantly more active, and YouTube, where the compaies are tied). in each of the categories, Lyft also gives the impression of being more in-touch with their audience. As an example, Lyft follows more than 20,000 of their users on Twitter! Not only is this nearly as many followers as they have, but it’s also significantly more than the 281 acounts that Uber follows (mostly local Uber accounts and Uber employees).

Representative Samples

Twitter is a good platform to examine first for representative samples. I present two screen captures from Twitter, both taken from near the top of their feed:


Here’s something from Uber’s public twitter feed:



Uber is (intentionally or not) clear in their message, “You are all the same. Also, please fill out this form.”

This theme oddly continues with Facebook.


Now, in this case they’re promoting the same event, so it’s more forgivable (sort of). Nevertheless, they’re certainly a fan of templates!


Here’s Lyft’s feed, taken from the top of thier feed (similar to Uber):

LyftYouFriendlyAs you can see, Lyft has a very different style. They’re very good at reaching out to their community and encouraging interaction. This is carried through on their Facebook page:

A man rides a tractor with a pink moustache on Lyft's Facebook page


Uber is the 300-pound Gorilla in this space. Their clean, crisp all-black persona is currently winning in the world of ride sharing, but Lyft’s presence in social media might be an indication that they’re playing the long game—customer retention. As more people expect to interact with brands online, Lyft is poised to capture their loyalty and retain them with the power of mustaches and friendliness.


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