Social media boosts Jets’ popularity

By most conventional measures, the Giants remain the more popular of New York’s football teams, despite the Jets’ recent success. But by a different set of metrics, the Jets aren’t just surpassing the Giants — they’re leading the NFL, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

A savvy social-media campaign rooted in the team’s commitment to transparency has catapulted the Jets to the top of an array of multimedia categories gauging fan interest. They have the most Twitter followers of any team in the NFL, despite ranking 27th in the league in national popularity according to an ESPN Sports Poll last year.

This year Gang Green was also the most "buzzed about" team in the NFL, according to NM Incite, a category that includes blogs, blog comments, boards, groups, Twitter and video/image sites. The Jets recorded more than one million mentions since August 1. The next closest team was the Dallas Cowboys, who recorded a little more than 600,000.

The team’s Fireman Ed Chant app ($1.99) is the second-best selling paid sports app on iTunes. Its "Ultimate Fan" app on Facebook, which allows fans to make predictions and stage virtual tailgates, has four sponsors, making it a rare revenue-generating Facebook app for a sports team.

This year, 10 percent of Jets sponsorships included a social media component; the team is planning to bump it up to 50 percent by next year, according to a spokesperson.

Still, conventional wisdom and an array of stats suggest the Giants retain a commanding lead among local loyalties: As of Thursday morning, they still boasted almost 200,000 more Facebook followers than the Jets.

Even in the week leading up the Jets-Patriots playoff game, the Giants outpaced their rivals, adding 35,458 new Facebook fans’ to Gang Green’s 34,081, according to the website

But around 20 percent of Jets fans have friended the team, compared with just seven percent of Giants fans, according to Coyle Media, a firm that provides digital media consulting to sports franchises.

The Giants declined to comment. "It’s their time to shine," demurred a Giants’ spokesman. "The focus and attention should be on them."

Nick Truelson, the fan development manager for Australia’s Essendon Football Club, recently visited the United States to study fan outreach and digital media efforts within America’s sports leagues, including meetings with the Giants and the Jets.

The Jets have "probably been the most impressive I’ve come across in the way that they’re able to engage with their fans and make them feel part of the team," said Truelson, citing his own first-hand experience.