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Social media has become one of the most powerful tools available to a head coach and program in today’s college recruiting landscape. Today, coaches across the country are using their handles as channels to consistently reach recruits and fans with their program’s key messaging. 

With less than a month remaining until the 2019 season kicks off, we evaluated the top coaches in college football to see who’s been making the biggest impact on social.

At the top of the leaderboard is Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, who leads all head coaches in total audience size. With over 2.1 million total followers, Harbaugh’s audience is more than five times larger than the next coach on the list, FAU’s Lane Kiffin.

In terms of growth, it comes as no surprise that Ohio State coach Ryan Day had the greatest increase in audience size over the past year. Since taking over as head coach of the Buckeyes, Day has added more than 62 thousand new followers while growing his audience over 1000 percent, both of which are the best in all of college football.

Though he doesn’t post as often as some of the other coaches on the list, Lincoln Riley is seeing plenty of success on social, topping all other coaches in engagement rate by a wide margin. Riley is particularly effective with video content, ranking second in video views behind only Miami’s first-year head coach Manny Diaz. 

Diaz is also among the most engaging coaches on social, ranking second behind Washington State’s Mike Leach. Leach — who leads all coaches with 670 thousand total engagements — also ranks second in total audience growth.

But while Leach has posted solely on Twitter, Diaz uses Instagram to publish a large percentage of his content, posting on the platform more than twice as often as any other coach we measured. The success he has seen on the platform could lead more coaches to add it to their recruiting arsenal, especially considering that fewer than 10 coaches regularly posted on the platform last year.

Notably absent from the list are Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, and Jimbo Fisher, among several other prominent head coaches. Their decision to actively avoid social media, while many younger coaches flock towards it, implies that while social is a powerful tool, nothing beats results on the field.

College Football’s Top Coaches on Social

Below is our analysis of the top 65 college football coaches on social media. The ranking includes data from Twitter and Instagram measuring each coach’s activity, audience, engagement, and growth from July 17, 2018, to July 17, 2019.

Download the full report

Total Audience
  • Jim Harbaugh  — 2.1 million followers
  • Lane Kiffin  — 419.1 thousand followers
  • Les Miles  — 326.8 thousand followers
  • Kirby Smart — 302.8 thousand followers
  • Will Muschamp — 279.2 thousand followers
Total Activity
  • Chad Lunsford  — 886 posts
  • Mack Brown  — 762 posts
  • Randy Edsall  — 701 posts
  • James Franklin  — 701 posts
  • Thomas Hammock — 678 posts
Total Engagements
  • Mike Leach  — 670.0 thousand engagements
  • Manny Diaz  — 619.3 thousand engagements
  • Dan Mullen  — 477.7 thousand engagements
  • Mack Brown  — 455.1 thousand engagements
  • James Franklin  —  446.1 thousand engagements
Total Growth
  • Ryan Day  — 62.5 thousand followers
  • Mike Leach  — 60.7 thousand followers
  • Kirby Smart  — 43.0 thousand followers
  • Neal Brown  — 36.3 thousand followers
  • Scott Frost  — 33.5 thousand followers