A couple of marketing professors at Emory University have been compiling what they call "Fan Equity Rankings" which essentially tries to measure which team has the "best" fans. How are they defining "best fans" you might be thinking? Well, here is what they said in a recent article on the topic:
...what we are really trying to get at is what team has the most avid, engaged, passionate and supportive fans. The twist is that we are doing this using hard data, and that we are doing it in a very controlled and statistically careful fashion.
Hmm, ok, so what hard data are they using? Again, I'll let them explain:
By hard data we mean data on actual fan behavior. In particular, we are focused on market outcomes like attendance, prices or revenues. A lot of marketing research focused on branding issues relies on things like consumer surveys. This is fine in some ways, but opinion surveys are also problematic. It’s one thing to just say you are a fan of a local team, and quite another to be willing to pay several thousand dollars to purchase a season ticket.
...we use fifteen years of data on NFL team performance, ticket prices, market populations, median incomes, won-loss records and multiple other factors. We create statistical models of box office revenue, and then see which teams over- and under- perform the model’s predictions.
If you want to learn more about their actual process, read the whole article, or check out this document. In their "revenue premium" model, the Vikings ranked 18th overall in fan equity, right in the middle of the pack. But they released a second model that focuses primarily on social media and fan engagement. I'll let them explain what they are doing with regards to social media:
The calculation of social media equity involves a statistical model that predicts social media community size as a function of market characteristics and current season performance. Social media equity is then based on a comparison of actual versus predicted social media following.
In other words, their model measures primarily which teams have the most twitter followers. If you were hoping for a better showing for our team, well, prepare to be disappointed. The Vikings rank only 20th in their social media model of fan equity. To make a long-story short, we better step up our game! So, how did some of the other teams in the NFC North rank?
Revenue Premium Fan Equity Rankings - NFC North
#6. Chicago Bears
#7. Green Bay Packers
#18. Minnesota Vikings
#25. Detroit Lions
Social Media Fan Equity Rankings - NFC North
#4. Green Bay Packers
#11. Chicago Bears
#14. Detroit Lions
#20. Minnesota Vikings
The good news is, overall the NFC North is pretty well represented in terms of fan equity, it just so happens that Vikings fans don't seem to be providing very much of that equity, relatively speaking.