It’s no secret that athletes are powerful on social. They have huge audiences and rack up retweets in ways that brand account managers can only dream of.

NFL players fit this description to a T. Their collective audience, activity, and engagement outrank that of their teams and the league itself.

But the players’ impact could be even more significant.

We analyzed Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram data from the NFL’s owned channels, all 32 teams, and every active player throughout the offseason (2/5/18 – 9/5/18). Below, we show how the players collectively stack up, and how they could just be scratching the surface of their potential impact on social.

Audience

With over 315 million total followers, NFL players almost double the audience size of their teams and outpace the league nearly six times over.

Of course, there are approximately 1,700 active players in the NFL and just 32 teams and one league, giving the athletes a big advantage in terms of total channels and eyeballs.

Still, the players average about 185 thousand followers apiece. Teams average 5.5 million followers, while the league claims over 53 million followers across its Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram channels.

Total

  • NFL players — 315.3 million followers
  • NFL teams — 178.1 million followers
  • NFL — 53.2 million followers

Twitter

  • NFL players — 119.9 million followers
  • NFL teams — 54.4M million followers
  • NFL — 24.1 million followers

Facebook

  • NFL players — 41.5 million followers
  • NFL teams — 91 million followers
  • NFL — 17.1 million followers

Instagram

  • NFL players — 153.9 million followers
  • NFL teams — 32.7 million followers
  • NFL — 12 million followers

Engagement

No surprise here — players hold the lead for total engagements as well. At over 529 million, the sheer number of athlete-driven engagements is striking, but it only starts to tell the story. 

Total

  • NFL players — 539.3 million engagements
  • NFL teams — 357.9 million engagements
  • NFL — 397.6 million engagements

Twitter

  • NFL players — 76.8 million engagements
  • NFL teams — 42.4 million engagements
  • NFL — 9.8 million engagements

Facebook

  • NFL players — 7.5 million engagements
  • NFL teams — 58.5 million engagements
  • NFL — 20 million engagements

Instagram

  • NFL players — 455 million engagements
  • NFL teams — 257.1 million engagments
  • NFL — 367.8 million engagements

Engagement rate

We know NFL players are engaging on social media, but the rate at which they engage their audience is incredible.

NFL players engage their fans at a 20X higher rate than the league itself and a 15X higher clip than their teams.

This is the proof — NFL players create impact when they share on social. Whether they’re raising awareness to a worthy cause, or simply sharing a pregame hype video, what they say matters.

Total

  • NFL players — 4.89%
  • NFL teams — 0.32%
  • NFL — 0.24%

Twitter

  • NFL players — 2.91%
  • NFL teams — 0.05%
  • NFL — 0.01%

Facebook

  • NFL players —1.8%
  • NFL teams — 0.07%
  • NFL — 0.02%

Instagram

  • NFL players — 10.29%
  • NFL teams — 1.91%
  • NFL — 1.51%

Activity

Here’s the kicker. NFL players should be sharing more.

Yes, the players collectively share more posts due to total numbers. But dig deeper and you’ll find that individually, they’re significantly less active than their teams and league.

NFL players averaged just 90 posts apiece in the offseason. That’s less than four posts per week across all three social networks.

Meanwhile, teams averaged 3,146 posts each, and league channels published more than 14 thousand total posts.

 

Total

  • NFL players — 153 thousand posts
  • NFL teams — 100.7 thousand posts
  • NFL — 14.2 thousand posts

Twitter

  • NFL players — 102.9 thousand posts
  • NFL teams — 52.7 thousand posts
  • NFL — 6.5 thousand posts

Facebook

  • NFL players — 7.8 thousand posts
  • NFL teams — 5.6 thousand posts
  • NFL — 34 thousand posts

Instagram

  • NFL players — 42.3 thousand posts
  • NFL teams — 13.9 thousand posts
  • NFL — 2.2 thousand posts

It makes sense. The NFL and its teams have the rights to a nearly unlimited supply of content assets. Not only do they own the content; they employ incredibly talented teams of people to capture, create, and distribute it.

Most players don’t have these teams around them. They act as the creator, the strategist, and the account manager, while only a select few have support on the side. Meanwhile, they put in the work on the field that eventually becomes content in the feeds of their teams and league.

Just imagine the impact this content could have if returned to the players’ hands.