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Frenzied Finishes Cause Social Stir in NFL Divisional Playoffs

Playoff Teams’ Posts Earn 14.5M Engagements

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NFL
Social Media
Published 
January 28, 2022
 | 
5
 min read

The divisional round of this year’s National Football League playoffs was unprecedented. Three of the four home teams lost, including the top seed in each conference, and every game ended on the final play. Amid the late-game heroics and nail-biting finishes, the social sphere was buzzing with fans either celebrating or commiserating. The weekend began on Saturday when upset-minded Cincinnati waltzed into Nashville and beat the Titans on the leg of a rookie kicker. Later that night, Green Bay could not overcome special teams miscues in snowy Lambeau Field as the 49ers upset a higher seed for the second time this postseason. But the first two games proved to be the undercard for what would happen on Sunday. The Rams blew a 24-point lead in Tampa before recovering to kick a game-winning field goal and oust Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, and then the game of the weekend closed the round. The Bills and Chiefs combined for 25 points in the final two minutes – resulting in three lead changes and a tying field goal as time expired – before Kansas City led an opening-possession touchdown drive to win in overtime. While the drama unfolded, the playoff participants created 1,021 social posts that generated $5.26M in post value for them and their partners. As a continuation of our NFL Playoffs social series, we used MVP’s platform to analyze text, images, and videos across the teams’ Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels over the weekend to determine who had the most engaging content and, ultimately, drove the most value.

Instagram Still Atop Post Value Leaderboard

As was the case during Super Wild Card Weekend, Instagram led all three platforms in total post value generated. Despite only posting 160 times to the photo and video sharing network over the weekend, the eight remaining teams collectively amassed $2.37M in post value – roughly 45% of the $5.26M total – on the platform. Instagram posts also earned the most impressions and engagements, with Twitter finishing a distant second in each category. Perhaps more surprising than the top post from seven of eight teams being on Instagram is that one team’s most engaging content was elsewhere. Cincinnati strayed from the norm with a viral tweet celebrating Evan McPherson’s game-winning field goal to topple the Titans. The AFC North champion earned at least 90% more engagements on Twitter than every other team, ultimately resulting in $381.3K worth of post value on the network. San Francisco’s $745.3K in value on IG and Kansas City’s $283.8K on Facebook were the most for those respective platforms.

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Another SF Upset Spells Social Success

The San Francisco 49ers have entered hostile territory two weeks in a row and advanced to play another game both times. Their winning streak has attracted attention, as the team once again led all playoff participants in total engagements, impressions, and post value. Furthermore, the Niners increased their totals in each category week-over-week, with their performance in primetime against Green Bay eliciting 67.9 million impressions and $1.31M worth of total post value. Two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City was the only other team this week to eclipse the $1M mark, finishing with $1.13M. The Chiefs’ upcoming opponent, Cincinnati, ranked third on the list with $872.4K in post value.

Though the Green Bay Packers finished among the top half of divisional round teams in terms of social value, their placement on the list does not tell the whole story. They earned $595.9K worth of value, but that figure would have been much higher if last weekend’s levels of interaction had remained constant. Instead, the team’s average engagements were down 49%, leading to a 36% drop in average value per post. Conversely, the Rams’ road victory gave Los Angeles the social jolt it needed, vaulting the team to fifth in total value while boosting its average engagements and average post value by 34% and 35%, respectively.

Comparing the Haves and Have Nots

Among the most significant social takeaways from the NFL’s divisional playoff round were the discrepancies across every metric between winning teams and losing teams. Winning teams created 33.6% more content than their opponents, but that difference of only 147 posts led to 2.82x more engagements, 2.45x more impressions, and a combined total post value 2.46x higher than that of the weekend’s losing squads. The widest social performance gap came from the first game. Although the battle on the field was tight throughout, the Bengals ran away from the Titans online, earning 6.09x more engagements and generating 4.89x as much total post value. A similar story unfolded for Kansas City and San Francisco. The Chiefs tripled Buffalo’s engagements and impressions, generating 3.1x as much total value as the Bills. Meanwhile, the 49ers used 2.96x more engagements and 2.23x more impressions to surpass the Packers’ total value by 2.21x. The only game that was relatively close in all categories was played on Sunday afternoon, but the victorious Rams still finished on top, with 10.7% more total post value than Tampa Bay.

Championship Sunday Awaits Playoffs' Best

Only one game stands between the conference finalists and football’s grandest stage. Fans throughout the country – but especially in Cincinnati, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco – will no doubt be glued to both their televisions and social media this weekend to watch and discuss who will have a chance to compete for the Lombardi Trophy. MVP will continue to monitor each of the four remaining teams’ social channels and analyze the value they generate during the NFL season’s penultimate competitive Sunday. Last weekend, a final score graphic was the most engaging post for five of the eight teams. The winners this week will earn the right to include a Super Bowl LVI logo on their final score imagery.

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