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I’m Puzzled Here August 25, 2012

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.
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I saw the article that Ted linked to recently, where American football gets compared to English soccer on social media.

That got me thinking. How, exactly, do the Caps stack up on Twitter, compared to the rest of the NHL?

I pulled the numbers on Wednesday afternoon, but, not exactly liking what I found, initially opted to table this until I could get my analysis of the numbers into a less severe tone. I’d hate to come across as bad-mouthing a team that’s treated me so well over the years. The Capitals, from Ted Leonsis on down, have been very good to me for a very long time, and I’m reluctant to imperil that much goodwill.

BUT–and this is why I’m going forward with running this–if I see what could be a problem, shouldn’t I point it out? If keeping my mouth shut means the team keeps doing what could be the wrong thing, wouldn’t I be doing the team a disservice by spiking the story?

Indecisive Libra that I am, it’s taken me a couple of days to decide.

But, in a spirit of loving guidance, I’m going to go forward with this piece. For the record, I’m not mad here: I’m just not quite sure why the Caps are doing what they’re doing on Twitter, especially in comparison to other NHL teams.

So here goes nothing. I know I’m not going to make any new friends on F Street by saying this, but check the numbers: the Capitals are statistically one of the snobbiest NHL teams on Twitter.

First, the follower numbers, which, again, I got on Wednesday afternoon. All the feeds were check-marked as official, and I’m going to take Twitter at its word on that.

NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS

TEAM FOLLOWERS
MTL 315,725
VAN 298,449
PIT 251,125
BOS 225,891
DET 200,229
CHI 199,257
TOR 197,300
PHI 188,130
LAK 169,923
NYR 162,197
EDM 153,897
WSH 124,619
CGY 120,358
NJD 102,267
WPG 102,155
SJS 98,102
BUF 96,141
STL 95,257
MIN 80,780
COL 79,588
TBL 76,264
OTT 75,093
ANA 73,487
NSH 73,293
DAL 70,570
CAR 59,921
CBJ 57,588
PHX 54,786
FLA 53,177
NYI 50,493

Okay, in terms of followers, the Caps aren’t doing bad at all: top half of the league, more followers than a good number of prior Stanley Cup champions, and within hollering distance of the current Stanley Cup champions. The teams ahead of the Caps are all hockey towns of considerable repute, and the Caps are at the top of the heap in terms of followers in the Southeast Division.

Not bad, right? Well…not so fast. Take a look at these next two charts. The gaudy numbers you see by Toronto and St. Louis are not typos.

TEAM FEED FOLLOWING

TEAM FOLLOWS
TOR 25,014
STL 10,934
NJD 7,650
NYR 5,922
TBL 4,887
PHX 4,247
NYI 3,086
DET 2,190
LAK 1,567
NSH 873
CHI 845
MIN 730
FLA 728
ANA 370
BUF 367
COL 329
CBJ 298
DAL 255
EDM 220
CGY 203
PHI 157
CAR 151
VAN 134
SJS 124
PIT 105
BOS 103
MTL 89
WPG 87
WSH 53
OTT 48

Ouch. The Caps come in second-to-last here, in absolute terms, with not even three score follows. There’s a lot one can say about Toronto’s performance on the ice, but MAN, are they ever good with the follow backs on Twitter.

So what? Doesn’t a championship mean more than Twitter numbers? Perhaps…but try convincing the Islanders of that. They won four Stanley Cups a generation ago, and they might not even sell out three games if they sold one ticket to every Twitter follower that they have. (One of which is me, by the way: I consider it prudent hockey fandom to follow all 30 official NHL team feeds.)

But more to the point, engagement matters. This has been something that the Capitals have recently been at the forefront of. The team didn’t exactly invent the hockey blogosphere, but they did a heck of a job nurturing and building it. The Capitals, at least from what I’ve seen, have been a high-touch franchise for quite some time. So what’s with the infinitesimal follow numbers?

It gets worse when you look at the ratio of followers to follows. I’ve rounded the ratios to the nearest hundredth.

RATIO OF TWITTER FOLLOWERS TO FOLLOWS

TEAM RATIO
TOR 7.89
STL 8.71
PHX 12.90
NJD 13.37
TBL 15.61
NYI 16.36
NYR 27.39
FLA 73.05
NSH 84.68
DET 91.43
LAK 108.44
MIN 110.66
CBJ 193.25
ANA 198.61
CHI 235.81
COL 241.91
BUF 261.96
DAL 276.75
CAR 396.83
CGY 592.90
EDM 699.53
SJS 791.15
WPG 1,174.20
PHI 1,198.28
OTT 1,564.44
BOS 2,193.12
VAN 2,227.23
WSH 2,351.30
PIT 2,391.67
MTL 3,547.47

Again the Caps turn up near the bottom, this time in relative terms. What’s particularly troubling here is that, of the 5 teams at the bottom–all of which have ratios north of 2,000 to 1–the Capitals have the lowest number of followers by a very wide margin. Perhaps it would be a bit much for a feed with a quarter of a million-plus followers (Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Montreal) to have a similar ratio to, say, the less-followed Florida Panthers. A fair point…but then, how do the Red Wings, with thousands more followers than the Capitals, still manage to keep their ratio in double digits? How do the Maple Leafs, with over half again as many followers as the Caps, stay on top of a Follow list that wallops the Capitals’ by more than 450 to 1?

Does it make any sense for a team that prides itself on being highly engaged, to be that reluctant to follow other feeds? What are the Blues doing that the Capitals aren’t? How are the Hudson Valley teams all able to maintain such good followback ratios? How do the Maple Leafs, who may just be Canada’s version of the New York Yankees, stay on top of 25,000+ feeds? And, most importantly, what’s preventing the Capitals from doing likewise?

If you’ve got any ideas, Caps Nation, I’d love to hear them. Something about this scenario does not compute. It’s out of character for an organization that prides itself on being high-touch.

For the record, I’m not mad here, I’m not trying to stir the pot, and–believe it or not–I’m not trying to beg for a follow. I just pulled the data out of curiosity, and couldn’t make any sense out of it. If anything, I’m just puzzled by a situation that’s so completely out of character for the team I love so much.

CAPITAL SPIRIT
BEWILDERED

On the NHL 13 Demo August 21, 2012

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.
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The NHL 13 demo from EA Sports came out today, and I opted to give it a try.

I started with the Hockey Ultimate Team demo, and managed to get Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis on my top line, along with Jonathan Quick in net.  Shawinigan–a JUNIOR team–should have been no trouble.  Instead, half a dozen shutouts later, I’ve thrown in the towel.  Quick was playing like he couldn’t defend a Turkish whorehouse, and Stamkos was playing like he couldn’t score in one, either.  Enough.  I didn’t even look at the other modes.  Demo’s off my hard drive, and I guess I’ll be sticking with NHL 12 this year.–CS

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