Connect with us:
Social Media Today on FacebookFollow SocialMedia2day on TwitterJoin SocialMediaToday LinkedIn Group

The Instagram Superbowl: 49ers vs Ravens on Social Media

Finally, the Superbowl XLVII is right around the corner.

In just a few days, the San Francisco 49ers will face the Baltimore Ravens in the game that will crown this season’s NFL champion. As both teams prepare to deploy their A-game on Sunday, another battle is being waged...On Instagram.

@49ers and @Ravens are already at it, actively nurturing their brand image with the mobile photo app. Hashtagging photos, motivating their fans, delighting them with backstage glimpses that they wouldn’t have dared dream of before Instagram was around... All in all, both teams are applying the best known methods in Instagram marketing, and seemingly making no mistake about it.


photo credit: @49ers and @ravens

So, both know what they're doing. That should make for an interesting Instagram Superbowl. We're going to look at the teams' accounts first, and then we'll dive into the Instagram community at large. Let the game begin.  

1. Official Accounts

Followers count

as of Jan 29

The 49ers have a big head start here. With 255K fans on Instagram, they're the most followed team on the NFL. But do they know how to make these 255K people happier than the Raven's 82K? We can assess that by comparing the teams' engagement rates.

Engagement Rates (ER)

The Average ER shows the percentage of followers who like a photo posted by the official account. We came up with the right formula for it: ((total Likes / number of photos posted on a given day) / number of followers) x 100 = Average ER @49ers ((220427 / 7) / 255000) x 100 = 12.35% @ravens ((181996 / 22) / 82000) x 100 =  10.09%   12.35% to 10.09%? That's just a field goal for the 49ers, giving them a feeble 3 points lead. How will the Ravens react to that?  


photo credit: @NFL

InstagramFact: Most NFL teams have an official account on Instagram. The NFL itself has one. Last year's Superbowl contestants Patriots and NY Giants have one. Here's the full list of the NFL teams on Instagram

2. Community

To analyze the community, we look at the Instagram ecosystem as a whole to see how the 2 teams fare outside of their own accounts. In order to do so, we measure the popularity of the hasthags that best define them: We'll use #NFCchamps and #QuestForSix (As in: "Quest for our 6th win at the Superbowl") for the 49ers, #AFCchamps and #SBRavens for the Ravens.

Unsolicited activity (Spontaneous posts on Instagram)

Both teams qualified for the Superbowl when they became champions of their respective conference. On January 20, #NFCchamps buzzed when the 49ers won, and #AFCchamps, when the Raven's did. This graph shows the number of photos shared on each hashtags over time:

ImageThe 49ers' qualification to the Superbowl was more polarizing than that of the Ravens, and initiated more Instagram posts.

Solicited activity (Encouraged by the teams)

Part of managing a community on Instagram is on motivating content creation through hashtags. The 49ers invented #QuestForSix to rally their fans around the prospect of winning the Superbowl again, while the Ravens are promoting #SBRavens on their official website. Here's the amount of photos shared on both hashtags:


That's a very clean touchdown for The Niners. They took initiative and scored big. The score is now 49ers - 9, Ravens - 0.In addition to being first movers, here's what they did right:

  • They have been actively captioning their photos with #QuestForSix for quite some time now
  • They're moving things forward with a contest and a dedicated web-page incentivizing User Generated Content
  • They have created a second page to feature this Content

That's what we call pushing the envelope and federating your community. After the PAT try, the 49ers now lead 10 to 0. A honorable mention goes to the Ravens for not giving up. They reacted by promoting their own hashtag on their page:


As far as we can tell, that was their only response, with no dedicated page or contest in sight. Not exactly the fireworks we'd expect them to pull off, but a valiant safety score for 2 points, and Raven's saving grace.  

Image 10 - 2 Image

10-2 is the end score, The 49ers win the Instagram Superbowl! We're curious to see how things go on Sunday. Not only on the field, but on social media as well. Instagram might even break its activity record, set on Thanksgiving 2012. What do you think?  

Join The Conversation

  • Desiree Aldeguer's picture
    Feb 1 Posted 4 years ago Desiree Aldeguer

    The Niners won the Instagram SuperBowl and hopefully the real one on Sunday is next!!! :) Great article. I've been watching these two go at it on social media (the Hootsuite Dash is pretty cool) so nice to see a more analytical approach to their marketing strategies.



Webinars On Demand

  • May 09, 2017
    With all of the technologies available to marketers today, have we lost that personal touch? Join VP of Content Marketing for ON24, Mark Bornste...
  • April 05, 2017
    In the ever-changing world of digital marketing, operational efficiency, quick turn-around times, testing and adapting to change are crucial to...