Goalscoring and Twitter: the MLS approach

Goalscoring and Twitter: the MLS approach

Last time round I took a look at how Premier League clubs were using Twitter to celebrate their teams’ goals. It proved popular, and one or two people requested that the same thing be done with the MLS.

I’ve waited a short while until the conclusion of the regular MLS season. It’s currently the playoffs, so I decided that the final goal of the season would be a good focus point for this bit of analysis.

This is a slightly different approach. Last time the Moment featuring all 20 tweets was incredibly popular, so rather than just embed all of the posts here I’ve left that separate and used the site to have a bit more of an in-depth look at things. You can find a link to it at the bottom of this piece.

The data

I haven’t split any of this up into the Eastern and Western conferences, simply a comparable list of all 20 MLS clubs. If you’re interested in visiting their accounts there’s a handy directory here.

All tweets were taken from the 2, 14, 16, or 23 October 2016, depending on when each team scored last during the regular season. In terms of context I haven’t looked at whether their tweets change depending on if they score a winning goal, a consolation, or the time of game – this is just a direct comparison.

Also: the RT/like figures were taken on 2 November 2016, when this was all put together. Typically most engagement happens shortly after tweets are posted so these aren’t likely to increase. To work out an engagement rate the follower count on 2 November 2016 was used – obviously not every follower will see every tweet, but seeing as impressions are impossible to find out this is the best I can do.

For the purposes of this analysis I’ve just used the main club account. Some teams, such as Seattle Sounders, have separate match day Twitter accounts – these haven’t been included.

Hopefully the terms are easy enough to understand. “Context” simply refers to whether or not the account told us about the goal itself – how it was scored etc. That was a bit more of a judgement call on my behalf.

Different strokes

As with the Premier League, there’s no consistent approach to announcing a goal on Twitter. The only constant among all 20 tweets was using the name of the goalscorer – whether in the tweet text, an accompanying graphic, or including their handle.

Surprisingly, to me at least, only seven of the 20 teams used a GIF. Given that the MLS’ GIF game is usually pretty strong, this struck me as odd. A further five used a static image, meaning that eight sides don’t have any goal-specific media ready. And only one of the top three RT’d/liked tweets used any media at all.

Hashtags are fairly prevalent, but again there were varying approaches to these. Some used #DeadlineDay for the final game of the season, while others used either a game-specific hashtag or their own. In this respect it was fairly similar to the Premier League: there doesn’t appear to be any consensus at all about which one to use.

[bctt tweet=”Eight MLS clubs don’t use any media at all when announcing a goal on Twitter.”]

What worked

Top of the engagement pile is NYCFC. No GIF, but a static image and most of the elements from the table.

A solitary hashtag, and no real context for the goal other than the scorer and the minute they scored. We don't even know what the current score is. Including the game's hashtag may have played a part in the increased engagement: FC Dallas only have 107,000 followers, but their 162 retweets and 216 likes gives them an engagement rate of 0.35%.

Third in the engagement stakes are Sporting Kansas City.

Again there's no media, and not even a hashtag. They managed a 0.15% engagement rate with this - perhaps suggesting, along with FC Dallas, that sometimes less is more.

[bctt tweet="Only @NYCFC used their opponents' Twitter handle when announcing a goal."]

Unique approaches

Seeing as scoring a goal is one of the most emotive acts a football team can do, the lack of emojis seems surprising in goal tweets. Only one side - Columbus Crew - used an emoji in their tweet.

Their tweet is the fourth worst performer when looking at total engagements, however they included seven of the nine elements (we'll count image and GIF as one as they can't include both). Personally I would hold theirs up as an example for clubs to follow - it's packed with detail and the only thing it doesn't include is the opposition's handle or a URL.

Three teams - Seattle Sounders, Philadelphia Union, and Houston Dynamo - included URLs in their tweets. Houston and Seattle linked followers back to their own sites and their respective match centres, while Philadelphia provided a link to the MLS' official match centre (as an aside, the MLS match centres are brilliant - they combine images, tweets, and updates from each game and are another example of how much more advanced digital coverage is in America).

[bctt tweet=".@ColumbusCrewSC are the only MLS club who used an emoji to celebrate a goal on Twitter."]

And finally

A special mention also needs to go to Orlando City. They've included a GIF, but with a difference: it's a GIF of the goal itself. Each club usually shares a highlight of the goal shortly after it's scored, but Orlando do this as part of the announcement - however I'm not sure at this point how long this means they have to wait.

Orlando are fifth when it comes to total engagements, with 69 retweets and 151 likes for this tweet from 270,000 followers (0.08%).

[bctt tweet=".@OrlandoCitySC are the only club to include footage of a goal on Twitter when it's announced."]


  • Eight MLS clubs don't use any media at all when announcing a goal on Twitter.
  • The only thing MLS clubs have in common when announcing a goal on Twitter is to include the name of the goalscorer.
  • Columbus Crew are the only MLS club who used an emoji to celebrate a goal on Twitter.
  • Only New York City used their opponents' Twitter handle when announcing a goal.
  • Orlando City are the only club to include footage of a goal when it's announced.
  • Four MLS clubs don't include the new score when announcing a goal on Twitter.

For easy sharing, you can highlight any sentence and click the tweet button to share it on Twitter.

Want to see all 20 tweets as a Moment? That's right here.