2024 Top Professional Sports Teams on Social Media

Competitive Analysis Social Media Best Practices Things we notice

Lay down the sideline chalk, sharpen those skates, and raise the hoops, because we’ve officially launched our inaugural Top Professional Sports Teams on Social Media report!

With the 2024 sports seasons in full swing, we’re excited to bring you the latest social media highlights, insights, and winners from all 179 teams in the seven major North American professional sports leagues.

Enjoy a plethora of case studies from NFL, MLB, NWSL, NBA, WNBA, MLS, and NHL brands who piled up the engagement on social, in addition to a bucketful of trends to help your brand increase engagement on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Twitter.

Dive into the top pro sports teams of the year.

Grab your report here

Top Overall Sports Teams on Social Media

The Cincinnati Bengals not only #RuleTheJungle🐅, but they also rule the professional sports teams social media rankings, grabbing the gold out of all the brands we studied in 2023. The Bengals pulled this off thanks to a balanced content strategy that customized posts to the unique audiences of every major social channel. The Buffalo Bills and Inter Miami CF put up a strong fight, rounding out No. 2 and No. 3 on our podium, respectively.

Overall Rank Team Rank Rank Rank Rank
1 Cincinnati Bengals 2 3 10 4
2 Buffalo Bills 6 2 2 15
3 Inter Miami CF 1 53 1 1
4 Houston Astros 15 10 4 19
5 Kansas City Chiefs 4 41 3 12
6 Philadelphia Phillies 5 44 13 11
7 Seattle Mariners 21 24 24 7
8 Philadelphia Eagles 3 28 17 22
9 Los Angeles Dodgers 7 62 20 4
10 San Diego Padres 10 59 19 5

Other pro sports teams like the Houston Astros, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Eagles, L.A. Dodgers, and San Diego Padres had strong years in 2023, rounding out our overall Top 10.

Top Brand: Cincinnati Bengals

Who dey? Dey just the pro sports team social media champs, and they should be proud. The Cincinnati Bengals ranked in the Top 10 of all four social channels we measured this year, including Top 3 rankings on Instagram and TikTok. Thanks to a never-ending flow of short-form video, the Bengals’ social squad leveraged TikTok to maximum efficiency, as 9 of its top 10 posts (total engagement) were published the world’s trendiest platform.

Cincinnati Bengals TikTok post featuring a player reacting humorously with engagement statistics.

They also paired photos with cheeky and well-timed captions, with many top performers on Instagram, usually featuring superstar quarterback Joe Burrow. As one of their captions bluntly stated: “No such thing as too much @joeyb_9 content.” And they were right, as more than half of the Bengals’ top 25 social posts in total engagement featured “Joe Cool” himself.

Cincinnati Bengals Instagram post featuring a player signing a document with engagement statistics.

We don’t know if felines are early risers, but the Cincinnati Bengals’ social media team definitely is, with posting the highest concentration of its content before noon, especially during the pregame hours between 9-10 a.m. (EST). They enjoyed spikes in engagement rate by follower during postgame hours, in particular, usually sharing a plethora of game highlights, post-game interviews, and engaging statistics graphics between 3 and 5 p.m.

Graphs showing the average activity and engagement rate per published hour for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Top Trend 1: Short-Form Video Reigns Supreme

It’s no secret that most social media channels are prioritizing short-form video in their feed algorithms, but professional sports teams are an industry that excels at Instagram Reels and TikTok videos, in particular. Of the 179 teams analyzed, their TikTok videos and Instagram Reels combined for 2.2 billion engagements, comprising more than one third of all total engagements in the industry in 2023.

San Diego Wave FC TikTok post celebrating Melanie Barcenas' professional debut with engagement statistics

San Diego Wave FC was the top-ranked NWSL team on TikTok, also ranking in the top five of all pro sports teams in TikTok engagement rate by follower. Its strategy was simple. Post videos about rookie Melanie Barcenas as much as possible. Barcenas made her Wave debut in 2023 the age of 15, making her the youngest player to ever play in the NWSL, and San Diego rode the Gen Z “wave” to TikTok success all year long.

Philadelphia Eagles Instagram reel featuring an eagle flying during a game with engagement statistics

Their motto is #FlyEaglesFly, and boy did the Philadelphia Eagles soar in 2023, earning a No. 7 overall ranking, largely in part to its success with Instagram Reels. Take this Reel for example, showing off their beloved live mascot, Noah the Eagle, who kicked off a Sunday Night game versus the Miami Dolphins in October. No disrespect to the Eagles’ official mascot, Swoop, but the fans in Philly sure loved seeing their local Elmwood Park Zoo resident make an appearance at their beloved Lincoln Financial Field, to the tune of more than 8 million engagements on this post alone.

Top Trend 2: Candid Moments

Game highlights are great and all, but pro sports team fans seem to prefer soaking up social media posts showing the human side of their favorite athletes. Posts featuring funny sideline moments, mic’d up audio clips, locker room footage, and pre-game fashion regularly earned high engagement rates by follower for brands. With so many superstar athletes carrying international fame — and their own massive social media followings — the secret sauce includes a healthy dose of content revolving around their personalities off the court/ice/pitch/field.

Memphis Grizzlies TikTok post featuring Ja Morant and his daughter with engagement statistics

Call it clickbait if you want, but there’s no denying that cute kids hold a special place in the social media world. The Memphis Grizzlies took advantage of an adorable courtside moment with star point guard Ja Morant and his 3-year-old daughter Kaari during pregame warmups. In a world where superstar athletes are often judged by their performance, social posts featuring their families do a wonderful job of mixing up content to keep things positive. Fanbases are passionate, often resulting in critical engagement on social media, and pro sports teams leverage content like this to lighten the mood.

Atlanta Dream Instagram post featuring courtside fans with engagement statistics.

Keeping the family vibes going, take a look at this fun Instagram post by the Atlanta Dream, featuring team vice president and part owner Renee Montgomery. The strategy here is clear; Just a mom and her son (Angel) dancing to music in their courtside seats during a timeout at a game in August. The simple 5-second video checks two of the good-vibes boxes: catchy tunes ✅ and a wholesome family moment ✅, and it earned the Dream nearly 1 million Instagram engagements.

Top Trend 3: Fan-Centric Posts

It sounds like a no-brainer, but what better way to engage with your fans on social media? Make the content about them, duh! Many of our top-ranked pro sports teams did just that in 2023, posting a wide range of fan-centric content, including in-game jumbotron footage of game attendees at the venues, players signing autographs for children, babies wearing branded sports apparel, and pre-game festivities and tailgates.

Tampa Bay Lightning TikTok post featuring the emoji cam challenge during a game with engagement statistics

While all pro sports teams use a variety of tactics on their video boards to engage with fans during games, the Tampa Bay Lightning broke from the trendy celebrity look-a-like schtick, and instead challenged ticket holders to make faces matching the emoji on the jumbotron. The live results are comical, and the social media results are even better, as this video piled up a whopping 1.2M engagements on TikTok.

Detroit Tigers Instagram reel featuring a young fan converting to support the team with engagement statistics.

Professional athletes are often generous with their time, giving autographs to fans at official team functions and in their personal lives. But in this case, Detroit Tigers superstar — and future Hall of Famer — Miguel Cabrera made a young fan earn his autograph. The boy was wearing the jersey of the opposing team, and Cabrera refused the autograph because of it. The fan’s solution? Switch jerseys with his brother, who happened to be wearing Cabrera’s jersey. His resourcefulness worked, as “Miggy” rewarded the child with his game bat for his efforts. The Tigers’ social media team beautifully edited the captured footage of the moment into an Instagram Reel, to the tune of 137k engagements. 💪🏽

Top Sports Teams on Instagram

Pro sports teams knocked it out of the park on Instagram in 2023, with a median engagement rate by follower of 1.39%, which is way higher than these brands earned on Facebook and Twitter (but way lower than on TikTok). It’s no surprise that pro sports brands perform so well, as the industry ranks No. 2 on Instagram (behind only Higher Education) in our 2024 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report. Pro sports teams posted more than 18 times per week on Instagram — nearly three times per day — which is tops among all industries we measured in that same report, by a landslide.

Rank Team Total Engagement Eng. Rate by Follower
1 Inter Miami CF 380,100,872 4.35%
2 Cincinnati Bengals 63,968,428 3.40%
3 Philadelphia Eagles 118,675,158 3.03%
4 Kansas City Chiefs 106,396,210 2.97%
5 Philadelphia Phillies 43,609,170 3.34%
6 Buffalo Bills 49,348,508 3.01%
7 Los Angeles Dodgers 53,842,346 2.94%
8 San Francisco 49ers 84,030,756 2.28%
9 Los Angeles Angels 27,099,092 3.30%
10 San Diego Padres 29,381,094 3.00%

Inter Miami CF took the gold on Instagram this year, with the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles rounding out the medalists. Overall top 10 finishers Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Phillies, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres also stood out on Instagram, while the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Angels stood out on Instagram, but didn’t score well enough on other channels to make it into the overall top 10.

Featured brand: Inter Miami CF

Inter Miami managed a big win on Instagram this year thanks to nonstop coverage of international superstar Lionel Messi. The brand brings us a taste of international fútbol, along with its rabid fanbase, helping the Herons finish on the podium in our overall rankings, as well. Inter Miami FC also ranked No. 1 on Facebook and Twitter, and if it can move up the charts on TikTok, it has a strong chance at earning our No. 1 overall sports team on social media in next year’s report.

The Herons outperformed all the competition on both Instagram engagement rate and total: the brand earned a median engagement rate of 4.35% and nearly 280M total engagements. That’s a big number, folks. Like, REALLY big. Inter Miami CF’s Instagram engagement total alone was more than the combined cross-channel total engagement of 176 of the 179 teams we studied, averaging about 353k engagements per post. Beautifully designed graphics and cleverly edited videos helped, but so did adding an astonishing 14.6 million followers on Instagram in 2023.

Inter Miami CF Instagram post celebrating Lionel Messi's goal with engagement statistics.

Inter Miami CF’s social media team clearly prepared for the arrival of Messi, as it regularly rolled out consistent, branded graphics for every possible scenario, including welcome messages, goals scored, sponsorships, highlights, etc., and its fans ate it all up. This Instagram Reel celebrating his first goal with the club racked up nearly 6.2 million engagements alone. We guess the separation really is in the preparation.

Inter Miami CF Instagram post featuring a new player holding a jersey, with engagement statistics.

Messi wasn’t the only international fútbol superstar to join the Herons in 2023, as Inter Miami CF also signed Uruguay legend Luis Suárez to the roster. Just as they did with Messi, the club leveraged Suárez’s international fame to not only help its chances of winning an MLS Cup, but to increase brand visibility through its social channels. When they made the announcement in December, the rich got richer, with this carousel post earning nearly 5.3 million engagements, positioning the club for even more Instagram success in 2024.

Inter Miami CF Instagram reel celebrating a team victory with engagement statistics.

At the end of the day, pro sports fans care most about one thing, and that’s winning. Like many other successful pro sports brands on Instagram, Inter Miami CF regularly shared match highlights in the form of Instagram Reels, and this post was no exception. Messi made a rousing debut for the club with a stoppage-time winner to beat Liga MX’s Cruz Azul 2-1, and this Reel highlighting the goal earned an astonishing 39.1% engagement rate by follower, nearly 28 times the industry median for Instagram posts.

Dig deeper: Delve into how to accurately measure Instagram engagement and what the current benchmark is for a good engagement rate across various industries.

Top Sports Teams on TikTok

Kudos to the Chicago Bulls for earning TikTok gold this year, and to overall top 10 finishers Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals for joining the NBA team on the winner’s podium. The Houston Astros — another top 10 overall finisher — also had a superb performance on TikTok, along with the Golden State Warriors, Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions, Memphis Grizzlies, Las Vegas Raiders and Milwaukee Bucks rounding out our top 10. The Astros are the standout MLB team on the list, while the New Jersey Devils (NHL), San Diego Wave FC (NWSL), and Inter Miami CF (MLS) were the top-ranked TikTok accounts in their respective leagues.

Rank Team Total Engagement Eng. Rate by View*
1 Chicago Bulls 21,135,920 13.87%
2 Buffalo Bills 14,764,407 13.67%
3 Cincinnati Bengals 27,223,076 13.16%
4 Golden State Warriors 23,744,663 12.20%
5 Pittsburgh Steelers 14,951,218 12.30%
6 Detroit Lions 8,767,581 12.55%
7 Memphis Grizzlies 8,500,296 12.34%
8 Las Vegas Raiders 5,004,472 14.82%
9 Milwaukee Bucks 5,356,814 13.42%
10 Houston Astros 5,284,259 12.67%

If you’ve read our 2024 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report, you’ll know that TikTok engagement rates dwarf those of all other social media channels. If you read that report, or our 2024 TikTok Benchmark Report, you’ll also remember that we measure engagement rate by view on this platform, instead of by follower, because counting the number of times a viewer liked, commented, or shared and dividing it by the overall number of views measures just how compelling your content was.

Pro sports teams drew a whopping 9.45% engagement rate by view on TikTok this year and posted just 3.4 videos per week, the fewest of all the social channels we measured in 2023.

Featured brand: Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls have a storied history and are one of the most recognizable brands in all of pro sports,  but the NBA team set itself apart in 2023 by standing out on TikTok, in particular. So how did the Bulls’ social media team pull off this feat in arguably the most competitive social landscape in 2023? Adding 1.5 million followers (third most of all 179 teams we studied) certainly helped, but the Bulls also ranked in the top 5 in engagements per video and engagement rate by view, despite posting slightly below the industry median of 3.4 videos per week. Let’s dive into the content that helped the Chicago Bulls slam dunk on TikTok.

Chicago Bulls TikTok video featuring a pregame fist bump challenge with engagement statistics.

Behind the scenes footage was the Bulls’ go-to in 2023, regularly showing what it’s like for the players during pre-game sessions, practices, travel, and other team obligations and events off the court. A simple bag of candy was all that was required for its social squad to put together this fun TikTok video, which accumulated nearly 8.8 million engagements, the most of any single TikTok post from the 179 teams we studied, and the second most of any post across all social channels.

Chicago Bulls TikTok post featuring a scare prank during media day with engagement statistics.

The social team continued with its cheeky shenanigans to kick off October’s spooky season with this #ScarePrank post. While it’s unclear if he was put up to it, guard Coby White’s sneaky scare of teammate Zach LaVine during the Bulls’ official media day was a hit on TikTok. LaVine wasn’t impressed, but the team’s social media followers were definitely pleased.

Chicago Bulls TikTok post featuring a mascot and a celebrity with engagement statistics.

We are ALWAYS here for mascots, and the Bulls didn’t disappoint. A common theme we noticed across all channels was pro sports teams posting content of celebrities attending their games or events, usually rocking branded team apparel. Leveraging celebrity influence has been a tactic for all industries for as long as we can remember, but Chicago pulled it off to perfection here, combining their beloved Benny the Bull mascot with acclaimed musician Billie Eilish in this wildly successful TikTok video.

Top Sports Teams on Facebook

Pro sports teams earned a median engagement rate of 0.3% in 2023, which is nearly double the next closest industry featured in our 2024 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report. Pro sports teams were also 5x more active on Facebook than the average brand (4.69 posts per week) in that study, trailing only the Media industry, posting more than 24 times per week. There were too many engaging posts from the realm of professional sports on Facebook this year, so let’s take a closer look at what worked well for just a few of these brands.

Rank Team Total Engagement Eng. Rate by Follower
1 Inter Miami CF 50,615,081 3.109%
2 Buffalo Bills 11,680,206 0.578%
3 Kansas City Chiefs 16,153,720 0.363%
4 Houston Astros 16,617,147 0.358%
5 Las Vegas Aces 3,651,646 1.819%
6 Toronto Blue Jays 8,041,735 0.432%
7 Indiana Fever 2,980,885 1.742%
8 Cincinnati Reds 6,082,913 0.406%
9 Texas Rangers 8,636,449 0.356%
10 Cincinnati Bengals 9,071,788 0.346%

Let’s start with another tip of the cap to Inter Miami CF, which was the top-ranked Facebook brand in our study. Other overall top 10 performers also cracked our Facebook top 10, including the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Astros and Cincinnati Bengals. The Las Vegas Aces, Toronto Blue Jays, Indiana Fever, Cincinnati Reds, and Texas Rangers all had stellar Facebook performances in 2023, as well.

Featured brand: Las Vegas Aces

The Las Vegas Aces took home the honor of our top ranked WNBA team in our overall rankings (No. 19), and that was largely thanks to its herculean efforts on Facebook, where they ranked in the Top 5. 👑 The Aces earned a 1.82% engagement rate by follower, which helped lead the charge of successful women’s teams’ dominance in that metric. Nine of the top 10 pro sports teams in engagement rate by follower on Facebook came from the WNBA and NWSL.

Las Vegas Aces Facebook video post celebrating players at the WNBA Skills Challenge with engagement statistics.

The defending WNBA champs were well-represented at the 2023 WNBA All-Star game, and they leveraged it into social media gold, as their duo of Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum won the KIA WNBA Skills Challenge as part of the festivities. Their resulting highlight reel of the contest piled up nearly three million views and more than 42k engagements, proving that you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel on social media, and ol’ reliable (game highlights) will keep fans engaged throughout the year.

Las Vegas Aces Facebook photo post featuring players with a celebrity with engagement statistics

We talked about this in past industry reports many times, but it always pays to get celebrity appearances or collabs in social posts. This Facebook post is no exception, as the Aces’ social squad not only leveraged a photo of star guard Jackie Young and celebrity musician Usher, they took an extra step by writing a caption specifically geared toward hometown fans. It worked to perfection with a mind-boggling 100% engagement rate by follower. That’s 333x the mean of all 179 teams we studied on Facebook, folks.

Las Vegas Aces Facebook photo post celebrating WNBA Championship with engagement statistics.

Time and time again, it’s been proven that the best recipe for success on social media is winning. The Aces’ leveraged their status as defending champions all season long in 2023, but put the icing on the cake in October, repeating as WNBA champs, guaranteeing they will be a force to reckon with on social media again in 2024. This fantastic (and candid) celebration photo of the players after the game was simple, timely, and nailed the “mood” factor, earning more than 40k engagements. 🎉

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Top Sports Teams on Twitter

Major League Baseball stole the show on Twitter in 2023, slugging their way to eight spots in the Top 10. Inter Miami CF continued its overall success, earning Twitter gold, with cross-town baseball teams Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers earning silver and bronze, respectively. Rounding out the Top 10 was overall winner Cincinnati Bengals, along with the San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds.

Rank Team Total Engagement Eng. Rate by Follower
1 Inter Miami CF 15,499,908 1.12%
2 Los Angeles Angels 7,773,846 0.34%
3 Los Angeles Dodgers 9,839,948 0.17%
4 Cincinnati Bengals 9,030,672 0.23%
5 San Diego Padres 3,639,946 0.27%
6 Texas Rangers 7,026,846 0.22%
7 Seattle Mariners 4,212,640 0.25%
8 Atlanta Braves 8,505,560 0.26%
9 Baltimore Orioles 4,053,057 0.27%
10 Cincinnati Reds 5,574,329 0.24%

Pro sports teams earned their lowest engagement rates of the year on Twitter at just 0.07%. This jives with the platform’s general decline, which saw engagement rates drop 20% overall in our 2024 Industry Benchmark Report. Despite this, pro sports teams earned the highest engagement rates of all the industries we measured, tweeting nearly 42 times per week (no, that’s not a typo), nearly 13x more than our cross-industry average, trailing only our Media category for the highest post volume.

Featured brand: Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles were one of many successful pro baseball teams on Twitter in 2023, thanks to an engagement rate by follower more than 4x the industry mean. The brand was all about nostalgia, chasing its first division championship in nine seasons, keeping its 850k Twitter fans engaged during their historic run all season long. The Orioles also grew the platform with an additional 30k followers, which is no small feat, considering nearly a third of the 170 teams we studied actually had a net follower loss in 2023.

Baltimore Orioles Twitter post celebrating AL East Division Champions with engagement statistics.

Did we mention winning? Yes? Well, we’re going to do it again, because it truly is the greatest catalyst for engaging social media content in pro sports. The Orioles rolled out gorgeous graphics all year long on Twitter, culminating in this tweet celebrating their A.L. East division championship in September, which earned an engagement rate by follower 61x the industry mean.

Baltimore Orioles Twitter post celebrating AL East Division win in the locker room with engagement statistics.

Did we mention winning yet? No? Good, because this locker room celebration photo kept Baltimore’s good times rollin’ on Twitter, racking up nearly 19k engagements, to go along with endless smiles. The Orioles’ engagement peaked during its late-season run to the playoffs, and for the playoffs themselves, earning an engagement rate of 0.37 — more than 5x the industry mean — from September through October.

Baltimore Orioles Twitter post thanking fans for an unforgettable season with engagement statistics.

One trend we consistently saw across all pro sports teams were posts celebrating the fans, which goes to show that when you make it about your followers, and less about your brand, the fans will keep coming back for more. This tweet was just one of the Orioles’ many sharp-looking graphics in 2023, which also doubled as a highlight, showing off some of their best photography from the year, all in one post. 📷

Check out the latest Social Media Industry Benchmark Report for even more benchmarks.

View the report now

How is my Team Performing on Social Media?

Comparing your pro sports team’s social media performance has never been easier.

Try it: Browse our Live Sports Teams Social Media Benchmarks for a real-time look at top posts, engagement rates, high-performing hashtags, and tons more. You can even add these benchmarks directly into your Rival IQ account for always-on monitoring of these top brands.

Need even more competitive analytics? Go head-to-head with a free social media analytics report on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to see how you stack up against your top competition. See what makes your competitors tick with key insights and actionable advice you can start using now to come out on top.

If you’re hungry to run a deeper analysis, grab a copy of our social media competitive analysis template and see how you stack up.


We surveyed 179 pro sports teams on social media between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023 on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Using this data and a weighted formula, we generated an overall engagement ranking for each brand. The top-ranked pro sports brands on social media have high engagement rates with average or better audience size and posting volumes.

We define engagement as measurable interaction on social media posts, including likes, comments, favorites, retweets, shares, and reactions. We used engagement rate by follower to measure engagement on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which is defined as the total engagement divided by the number of followers. We used engagement rate by view to measure engagement on TikTok, which is defined as the total engagement divided by the number of views.

The Case for Benchmarking

Why benchmark instead of just measuring how your pro sports team’s social media individual performance changes over time? Because social success is relative. Benchmarking means figuring out what’s working (and what isn’t) in your industry and measuring your success against that.

It’s crucial to go beyond likes and favorites because audience size is hugely important: 100 likes is great engagement for a brand with 1,000 followers but is a drop in the bucket to a brand with 100,000 followers. Engagement rate helps us take audience size into account to see who’s really reaching the highest percentage of their fans and followers with their social posts, which are the outdoor brands you need to beat.

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Wrapping it up

We hope you had as much fun as we did digging into what made pro sports teams stand out on social media. Maybe we inspired you to head out and catch a game for your favorite local team.

Did we miss a pro sports team on social media you love? Want to share another industry we should rank on social? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Twitter.

Matt Gerrish

Matt is a real life customer-turned-employee and joins us after a decade as a social media manager, proving once and for all that Rival IQ is good for both social media analytics and changing your life. When he’s not leaping to help customers in our support queue (or moonlighting on our blog), he’s building LEGOs with his sons or co-planning the next family adventure to complete the goal of visiting every U.S. National Park.

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