Inventing Followers Per Capita (FPC)

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By Aaron Westendorf

One of the most unique features I wanted to bring to Digital Sports Voice was a monthly “Power Rankings” for teams based on their digital marketing value. A digital “worth” can be thought of by asking this question, “How much would I pay to advertise through their digital channel?”

This question is assuming a lot. One of the largest assumptions is that a team would sell advertising space in their media, or include promotions. Many teams have still not agreed to sell parts of their digital media to sponsors or advertisement. Remember, Facebook waited a very long time before it ever allowed advertising.

I’ll admit that I follow NHL teams much closer than other leagues due to my digital media background and current employment, so I feel most comfortable giving examples from NHL teams: McDonalds sponsored the LA Kings including their Twitter account and Facebook Fan Page (along with other sponsorships such as practice jerseys) and Ford sponsored the Florida Panthers entire digital media platform (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).

Other assumptions include what the sponsor wants: reach, interaction or content (do they want their money to sponsor photo, video or written content).

My goal when assessing digital market value is to place myself as a business that potentially wants to sponsor a professional team. I believe the best context for evaluating teams is to compare them side-by-side with other teams in the same league (MLB, NBA, NHL or NFL). I understand that a company will most likely evaluate ALL sports teams regardless of leagues (for example evaluate whether to advertise with The New York Yankees or The Chicago Blackhawks).

Those inter-league comparisons are for another post, another day.

When I was making all of the Power Rankings for each individual league, I began to feel guilty for placing small-market teams towards the bottom of every list. I understand that reach is the easiest number to point to when finding ROI, but that doesn’t mean small-market teams are bad at social media or would serve as a poor ROI for digital media sponsorship.

When making the MLB Social Media Rankings I wondered what would happen if I handicapped small-market teams by finding Followers Per Capita (FPC). The results surprised me.

FPC handicaps small-market teams by dividing the number of digital media followers by the city’s population, but doesn’t hamper large-market teams.

“YOU’RE WRONG,” shouts Yankees fans.

Here’s the thing. Many popular sports teams expand beyond their city limits. For instance, notice all of the Boston and Yankee hats you see walking around in AnyCity, USA. Every MLB team has the opportunity to market to its city, and the rest of America.

It’s like this: If stockbroker X started with $10 and turns it into $100,000 and stockbroker Y started with $50,000 and turned it into the same $100,000, stockbroker X had the larger ROI.

Related to sports: If the Cincinnati Reds have 1,000,000 followers, it means more than the New York Yankees having 1,000,000 followers (because Cincinnati is a much smaller city the Reds would have to have effective marketing to gain 1,000,000 whereas the Yankees could be a terrible marketer if they have only 1,000,000).

So, I did it. I found the Census 2012 numbers for each MLB city (and trusted Google to find the population of Toronto…obviously US Census numbers are not available for a Canadian team) and divided it by the Total Users on each team’s digital media platforms.

The formula: Total Users (Facebook + Twitter + Instagram) / City Population = FPC (Fans Per Capita)

Here is the list of MLB teams ranked by FPC:

City Name Total Users City Pop. FPC
Boston Red Sox 4,446,079 636,479 6.99
St. Louis Cardinals 1,761,562 318,172 5.54
Atlanta Braves 1,802,739 443,775 4.06
Kansas City Royals 469,361 147,268 3.19
Cincinnati Reds 943,146 296,550 3.18
San Fransisco Giants 2,417,165 825,863 2.93
Minneapolis Twins 985,294 392,880 2.51
Detroit Tigers 1,546,049 701,475 2.20
Pittsburgh Pirates 585,853 306,211 1.91
Cleveland Indians 735,744 390,928 1.88
Tampa Rays 600,867 347,645 1.73
Dallas Rangers 1,843,937 1,241,162 1.49
Oakland Athletics 558,106 400,740 1.39
Philadelphia Phillies 2,115,138 1,547,607 1.37
Milwaukee Brewers 808,937 598,916 1.35
Seattle Mariners 702,721 634,535 1.11
Baltimore Orioles 670,521 621,342 1.08
Miami Marlins 418,660 413,892 1.01
Denver Rockies 635,529 634,265 1.00
New York City Yankees 7,517,528 8,336,697 0.90
Chicago Cubs 2,073,245 2,714,856 0.76
Washington D.C. Nationals 386,059 623,323 0.62
Los Angeles Dodgers 1,986,794 3,857,799 0.52
Chicago White Sox 1,171,334 2,714,856 0.43
San Diego Padres 512,908 1,338,348 0.38
Toronto Blue Jays 869,193 2,790,000 0.31
Phoenix Diamondbacks 426,617 1,488,750 0.29
Houston Astros 578,513 2,160,821 0.27
Los Angeles Angels 734,360 3,857,799 0.19
New York City Mets 869,154 8,336,697 0.10

NOTE: Teams with low FPC could sell their digital platform as holding market potential, if they can capture more Fans within their city – or maybe it exposes a marketing deficiency.

Teams can have a larger FPC than 1.00 because their fan base extends beyond the city and/or because their Fans follow multiple digital media channels (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) – both of which are good when evaluating digital media worth.

What does the future hold for FPC? I hope to calculate FPC for every league, and eventually involve it into a much larger formula to rank teams in Digital Sports Voice Power Rankings.

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