Team Success on the Court and Online – Does it Correlate?

On the court success is difficult enough, but does it translate to a successful online and social media presence?

Many factors come in to play; numbers can be based on current players (or even former), team history (or lack thereof), city they play in, loyal fan bases, or when it comes down to it: how much the organization is investing in their online appearance.

In this case study I will be focusing on the 2014-2015 NBA Season Standings and some notable teams as well as current Twitter numbers.

2014-2015 Eastern Conference Regular Season Standings – # of Twitter followers:


  1. Hawks – 426k
  2. Cavaliers – 956k
  3. Bulls – 2.41M
  4. Raptors – 890k
  5. Wizards – 428k
  6. Bucks – 389k
  7. Celtics – 1.77M
  8. Nets – 596k
  9. Pacers – 622k
  10. Heat – 3.19M
  11. Hornets – 429k
  12. Pistons – 442k
  13. Magic – 1.3M
  14. 76ers – 540k
  15. Knicks – 1.28M

At first glance, I notice most of the higher follower numbers at the top (Cavs, Bulls, Raptors) and at the bottom (Magic, Knicks), with a few outliers in the middle (Celtics, Heat). Meanwhile, most of the low-mid range # of followers fell in the same range, with the #1 Hawks being the only outlier. But now lets take a look at what the standings would have been if it were based on twitter followers (wishful thinking), and I will discuss why they came out that way.


  1. (10) Heat – 3.19M
  2. (3) Bulls – 2.41M
  3. (13) Magic – 1.3M
  4. (15) Knicks – 1.28M
  5. (7) Celtics – 1.77M
  6. (2) Cavaliers – 956k
  7. (4) Raptors – 890k
  8. (9) Pacers – 622k
  9. (8) Nets – 596k
  10. (14) 76ers – 540k
  11. (12) Pistons – 442k
  12. (11) Hornets – 429k
  13. (5) Wizards – 428k
  14. (1) Hawks – 426k
  15. (6) Bucks – 389k

As you can see, 3 of the top 4 teams were not even in the playoffs and all had double-digit rankings (Heat – 10, Magic – 13, Knicks – 15), but all have well over a million followers.

The Heats numbers are a little inflated because of their LeBron days. Obviously he is no longer there but four years of Bron Bron allowed them to accumulate quite the following.

Heat all day

Image via Baller Alert

The Knicks, although not very good on the court, are always going to be in New York. As long as Melo is there, their online presence is going to be enhanced.

The Magic is an interesting case. They have a young core, with only 4 players over the age of 25!! That is pretty staggering, and although they didn’t have much on-the-court success, they have great potential. All of their players are on social media, and the organization does a great job marketing and promoting them. Many of their posts display highlights, videos (vines), articles, statistics and more related to specific players, tagging them all, using emojis and proper social media etiquette.

Twitter Double Figures

Image via Twitter

I’d say The Bulls are the most consistent team, at #3 in the regular season standings while #2 in the follower standings. This is likely a combination of a few factors; a loyal Chicago fan base who still thinks MJ plays, Derrick Rose’s persona, Jimmy Butler’s on court play, and simply being in a large city where social media is king.

The Hawks are an outlier, as they had the best record by far in the east with a record of 60-22, but the second lowest number of Twitter followers. If you’ve been to a Hawks game, or watched one on TV, you’ve probably seen for yourself or heard the broadcasters talk about the lacking fan support in Atlanta. In the picture below, you can see opening tip of a Hawks game and how many empty seats there are. I believe this directly correlates to their lackluster Twitter presence.

ATL Arena

Image via Clatl

Obviously these numbers are not just black and white, and there may be many other reasons for why these teams have success on the court, on social media, on both, or on neither. Think I missed anything? Tweet me your thoughts @harris_baker!

Still want to get your NBA social media fix? Check out our Cleveland Cavaliers Social media monitoring case study.