Original Six NHL Teams Score Solid Numbers With Twitter & Facebook

When I started looking at the social media efforts of NHL teams last year, I wondered whether the Original Six teams would had an advantage in attracting fans to their Facebook and Twitter efforts. Would their long histories, established organizations and multi-generational fan bases transfer over to success on social media.

For those who are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, the Original Six NHL teams; Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins; made up the NHL for 25 seasons from 1942 to 1967 when the league expanded to 12 teams.

Original Six vs New Teams

On Facebook the gap is huge with Original Six teams averaging 895,000 page likes per team from a high of the Detroit Red Wings 1,207,807 to a low of 477,081 by the New York Rangers. The remaining 24 teams averaged only 273,156 page likes.

On the Twitter side the gap was a bit smaller, but still the Original Six teams have more than double the amount of followers at 156,768 than the other 24 teams’ average of 72,644 followers.

What does it mean?
What I believe the numbers say is simply that long established franchises have built up solid fan bases over their history, and that that fan base is solidly reflected even in social media.

Follower, Page Likes numbers are current to February 26, 2012.

He Tweets, He Scores! Which Team Leads the NHL in Social Media Success?

Which team leads the NHL in Social Media?It’s NHL All-Star weekend in Ottawa and the best players in the league are set to face off against each other in the skills competition and of course in the big game Sunday afternoon.

Social Media has become an essential part of any organization’s digital communications strategy, and the 30 teams that make up the National Hockey league are no different. The following is a ranking of which teams are (based on my formula) leading the NHL on the four big social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. Every team has an active Facebook and Twitter account, only 15 have a YouTube account, and 21 teams have a Google+ page of which 14 are active. I debated whether to include YouTube and Google+ in the final rankings, but in the end I thought it was important to recognize teams that were having success with YouTube and ones that were establishing themselves in Google+. I did not include Foursquare, LinkedIn Groups or Tumblr (the Boston Bruins have an awesome Tumblr page).

It’s obvious when you look at the overall ranking that teams with long histories, strong fan bases and on-ice success are going to rate high. When the numbers were added up the Philadelphia Flyers came out on top, thanks to a top 10 presence on all four platforms. Original 6 teams were in the top half of the list, only the Rangers’ rank suffered at #16 due to their lack of YouTube or Google+ accounts.

To create the individual platform rankings I looked to metrics that would help to show user activity, rather than just rely on number of likes, fans, followers or subscribers to define the team’s success. The numbers in brackets below show where the team ranked on the individual platforms. For example Philadelphia ranked #6 on Facebook, #3 on Twitter, #10 on YouTube and #7 on Google+. When I add these rankings together they add up to 25 which betters Vancouver’s total of 32. You’ll see several teams with rankings of #16 and #22 for YouTube and Google+. For teams that did not have a YouTube account I ranked them all at #16, and for those without any ‘official’ Google+ presence were ranked at #23. (teams with inactive Google+ accounts were rated below the active)

Top NHL Teams on Social Media

  1. 1. Philadephia Flyers (6-3-10-7)
  2. 2. Vancouver Canucks (3-6-16-7)
  3. 3. Detroit Red Wings (4-4-2-24)
  4. 4. Toronto Maple Leafs (7-11-16-1)
  5. 5. Montreal Canadiens (5-15-6-11)
  6. 6. Chicago Black Hawks (1-10-16-15)
  7. 7. Buffalo Sabres (2-7-16-22)
  8. 8. Anaheim Ducks (16-16-1-9)
  9. 9. Edmonton Oilers (12-5-3-25)
  10. 10. Pittsburgh Penguins (14-1-16-16)
  11. 11. Boston Bruins (2-7-16-22)
  12. 12. Los Angeles Kings (15-21-8-3)
  13. 13. Tampa Bay Lightning (18-9-16-5)
  14. 14. San Jose Sharks (10-8-14-17)
  15. 15. Washington Capitals (8-17-16-13)
  16. 16. New York Rangers (9-22-16-12)
  17. 17. Dallas Stars (19-23-16-2)
  18. 18. St Louis Blues (25-13-13-10)
  19. 19. Colorado Avalanche (24-14-16-8)
  20. 20. NY Islanders (26-25-4-22)
  21. 21. Calgary Flames (13-18-12-22)
  22. 22. Nashville Predators (20-12-16-19)
  23. 23. New Jersey Devils (22-19-9-18)
  24. 24. Carolina Hurricanes (27-22-5-21)
  25. 25. Minnesota Wild (17-29-16-19)
  26. 26. Ottawa Senators (23-24-16-22)
  27. 27. Winnipeg Jets (21-27-16-22)
  28. 28. Florida Panthers (29-28-11-22)
  29. 29. Columbus Blue Jackets (28-30-15-20)
  30. 30. Phoenix Coyotes (30-26-16-29)


FacebookWith over 800 million users worldwide, Facebook is the reigning king of social media platforms and all 30 teams have active brand pages there. Over 11.5 million people have ‘Liked’ NHL brand pages with the Penguins, Red Wings, Bruins and Black Hawks leading the league with over 1 million fans each. The new Winnipeg Jets have managed to attract 133,838 ‘Likes’ since launching their page less than a year ago on May 31.

To create the Facebook rankings I used total ‘Likes’, ‘People Talking About’ and percentage of total Page Likes Talking About. People Talking About provides a nice ‘snapshot in time’ adding up all the page, post likes, shares, comments, photo tags over the past 7 days. The ranking for each metric was then added together for a final overall ranking for Facebook.

Top 10 NHL Teams on Facebook

  1. 1. Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. 2. New York Rangers
  3. 3. Philadephia Flyers
  4. 4. Detroit Red Wings
  5. 5. Edmonton Oilers
  6. 6. Vancouver Canucks
  7. 7. Boston Bruins
  8. 8. San Jose Sharks
  9. 9. Tampa Bay Lightning
  10. 10. Chicago Black Hawks


TwitterTwitter is an ideal place for any fan to stay up to date on the latest news and game updates from their favorite NHL team, and all 30 teams have active accounts. Montreal and Vancouver with 233,664 and 216,747 followers respectively are out on front of the pack, with Pittsburgh trailing in third with 167,246 followers. The Winnipeg Jets are the fastest-rising team on Twitter, they already rank #14 in followers despite only launching on May 31st, of 2011.

The Twitter ranking uses number of total followers, the number of lists the team has been added to, as well as the number of retweets and references in previous the 7 days. The results of these individual metrics are added together to create the final twitter ranking.

Top 10 NHL Teams on Twitter

  1. 1. Chicago Black Hawks
  2. 2. Boston Bruins
  3. 3. Vancouver Canucks
  4. 4. Detroit Red Wings
  5. 5. Montreal Canadiens
  6. 6. Philadelphia Flyers
  7. 7. Toronto Maple Leafs
  8. 8. Washington Capitals
  9. 9. New York Rangers
  10. 10. San Jose Sharks


YouTubeEvery second one hour of video is uploaded to YouTube, and a quick search on any hockey team will bring up a long list of fan posted clips. Only 15 of the 30 teams have active YouTube accounts, the remaining teams host video on their main sites using the standard Neulion video player. 2007 Stanley Cup champs, the Anaheim Ducks are the leader on YouTube with nearly 1.3 million total views. Almost half of that total is for just two videos, 375,000 views of the Predators Ryan Suter kicking the puck into his own net in a game against the Ducks, and 199,000 watched Anaheim players attempting to speak Finnish. The NY Islanders, who have had an active YouTube account since September 2006 were second with 730,243 total views. The Red Wings followed in third with 565,250 views followed closely by the Oilers with 554,868.

Top 10 NHL Teams on YouTube

  1. 1. Anaheim Ducks
  2. 2. Detroit Red Wings
  3. 3. Edmonton Oilers
  4. 4. New York Islanders
  5. 5. Carolina Hurricanes
  6. 6. Montreal Canadiens
  7. 7. Buffalo Sabres
  8. 8. Los Angeles Kings
  9. 9. New Jersey Devils
  10. 10. Philadelphia Flyers


Google+Google+ may only be 6 months old, but in that time it has attracted 90 million fans and many more to come as Google forces new users to sign up for a G+ and Gmail accounts. Some NHL teams such as Toronto, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Buffalo have embraced Google+ and are posting content regularly. 21 of the 30 NHL teams have created ‘official’ Google+ pages, while only 14 of those 21 were active at the time of review.

Teams are ranked on Google+ rankings based on a total of how many circles they have been added to and times they have been +’d. Teams with inactive Google+ accounts were ranked below teams that are active, and teams that have yet to establish any presence were all ranked #22.

Toronto Maple leafs currently lead the league as they belong to 1569 circles and have been +’d 1008 times (as of Jan 27, 2012). Dallas is second belonging to 1231 circles and have been +’d 133 times.

Top 10 NHL Teams on Google+

  1. 1. Toronto Maple Leafs
  2. 2. Dallas Stars
  3. 3. Los Angeles Kings
  4. 4. Buffalo Sabres
  5. 5. Tampa Bay Lightning
  6. 6. Philadephia Flyers
  7. 7. Colorado Avalanche
  8. 8. Vancouver Canucks
  9. 9. Anaheim Ducks
  10. 10. Montreal Canadiens

Hope you enjoyed this social media snapshot of the NHL. I have plans to look at the NFL, NBA, and English Premier League in the near future. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or comments on the way that I ranked the teams.

Now that I have the numbers I’d like to dig down a bit deeper and review the content and engagement strategies that are being used, but first I’m going to relax with a few ‘pops’ and enjoy a weekend of All Star hockey. Cheers and Go Leafs Go!