The success clubs have around fan engagement on social media allows them to turn engagement into dollars. The four key platforms for the ranking are Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok.
This is the Hanger's guide to your favourite teams and how they rank on social media. It is mostly based on the popularity and size of the fanbase, but some clubs use certain social media tools far better than others.
Unsurprisingly, the league's two newest teams have claimed the bottom of the ladder.
18th - Gold Coast Suns
Gold Coast have the wooden spoon with 247,100 followers across their platforms and holds the lowest following on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Some success in the future may see them rise, but it won't be anytime soon.
17th - GWS Giants
The Giants have a combined 300,300 followers and the least number of Twitter followers. Being newer than Gold Coast, their slight boost in popularity is likely due to the 2019 Grand Final appearance, and the popularity of their theme song.
16th - North Melbourne Kangaroos
The Kangaroos have been disappointing for a long time, and their most recent premiership win in 1999 is not helping them grow a fan base. They have a combined following of 391,800 fans, which is a big jump from the Suns and Giants, yet their slow-growing fan base craves more than just content. The Roos have a big 2023 season ahead, and some wins on the board with Alastair Clarkson as the coach may improve their social following too.
15th - Melbourne Demons
The reigning premiers are surprisingly tragically low on our ladder with a combined following of 426,400. The drought from the winner's table has likely hurt their ability to gain followers over years previous to 2021; however, if the Dees can continue to prove themself with good content when they win, they will boost up the socials ladder in no time.
14th - Brisbane Lions
Despite their recent on-field success, the Lions appear not to have tapped into the rugby league market and do not have enough fans who follow both codes. The mere 437,100 followers on all the platforms leave the Lions far behind the rest of the field. New draftee, Will Ashcroft, could see their followers grow.
13th - Port Adelaide
In a footy crazy city, the Power has come off second-best. The 476,500 combined followers have attracted their city fans, and that is generally the limit. The appeal of the clubs comes with the port suburb and deep culture that preceded the AFL. The Power fans are unlikely to grow significantly, but their wins and losses will never tear them apart.
12th - Fremantle Dockers
One of three teams who haven't won an AFL Premiership, yet they have captured the hearts of WA. Well, some of them. Even without a Premiership, the Dockers fans are loyal and prove that with a 481,300 combined following. To capture their fans, even more, they would need to improve on their TikTok content as they haven't reached over 30,000 followers, which is well behind most of the competition.
11th - Western Bulldogs
The Dogs are the first to crack the 500,000 mark with 500,200 followers. Still, they are well behind the field, even with their recent success in 2016. A strong finals campaign last year has served their social channels well. Yet, their spike in followers can also be attributed to their stars such as Marcus Bontempelli, Cody Weightman and the incredibly marketable Bailey Smith.
10th - St Kilda
With just the one Premiership back in 1966 - one their fans obviously still hold onto- the Saints' social following has earnt them 10th place on the table. Their drought is only set to continue after missing the eight, yet their fans still hold hope. The main portion of the 569,800 come from the 183,100 TikTok followers, the most in the league. The TikTok admin are doing the heavy lifting for the club, and the next step will be turning these younger followers into membership numbers.
9th - Adelaide Crows
Despite almost tasting success in 2017, it has been pretty bleak for the Crows since. Their 661,700 fans significantly clear the Saints and just miss out on the top eight by over 1,000. Like the Power, the Crows have a segmented fan base and rely on their different generations of followers to boost their numbers.
8th - Sydney Swans
The Swans have significantly trumped their Harbourside counterparts and sit second for non-Victorian teams, just behind the Eagles in the top eight, with 662,900 followers. The Swans have been able to capitalize on the move that Lance 'Buddy' Franklin made to the Swans. When Buddy kicked his 1000th goal this season, the videos blew up all over TikTok and earnt them over 110,00 followers on the platform.
7th - West Coast Eagles
The Eagles have most of the followers out west, and with no NRL competition to steal away fans, it's a win for the four-time premiers. Being the first Western Australian team inducted into the AFL, they won the hearts of an already cult following and have 672,700 followers. Dom Sheed's iconic goal in the 2018 grand final has seen clips edited and remade multiple times. The fan base has also grown with the recent rivalry with the Pies. If the Eagles were to push towards the top four, they would need to improve their TikTok following.
6th - Carlton Blues
The Baggers have a very loyal fan base. There has been heartbreak over many years, especially this year more than the last. The combined 692,700 followers will likely climb if they make it into a Finals series, and if a grand final appearance is on the horizon, this would see the Blues quickly climb into the top four.
5th - Geelong Cats
The Cats have experienced success for a long time, and the 704,100 followers on these platforms get to experience this too. The winning culture has captured loyal fans, who have the second most followers on TikTok. The Cats may be able to win a few more followers if there is to be a premiership soon, but for now, they have the Cattery lovers who get them the views.
4th - Essendon Bombers
The Dons have not won a final in 18 years, yet the supporters are as loyal as they come. Their fan base is a huge jump from Geelong with a 770,300 followers combined. There is a young team coming through that is encouraging the more authentic side of content on these platforms. They aren't winning fans from winning games, so it is best for the fans to claim this top-four spot while they can.
3rd - Hawthorn Hawks
Pipping the Bombers by 5,000 followers, the Hawks have 775,300 fans over the four platforms, and are nowhere near moving up the ladder anytime soon. The three-peat back in 2013, 2014 and 2015 have kept the follower count high and hopes high. The Hawks haven't made finals since 2018. Fans will continue living in the past until their next September appearance.
2nd - Richmond Tigers
The Tigers have been the most successful team since 2017, with three premierships. The flag in 2017 brought a whole new fan base to the club, collectively totalling 802,600 followers. However, with the success, many AFL fans began to despise the Tigers. Though, as the success changes to a different club, their haters will come and go. For now, Richmond will be able to sit happily in second, as they are not catching the top anytime soon.
1st - Collingwood Magpies
The most polarising team in the AFL at the moment. The most loved and the most hated. However, whichever side of the fence you sit on, you can't complain about the brand of footy they have been playing this year. The Pies form has boosted their following, yet, it is not the only reason they have a grand total of 881,600 followers across the platforms. They have some of the best personalities in the AFL, which is reflected by their number one following count on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
It is very easy to go viral on TikTok using the right trending sounds and engaging the audience quickly. It is interesting to see how the future of the club's social media managers can capture fans' hearts and go viral.
The next step for these clubs is ensuring they are getting the full value of their social media platforms and turning these followers into memberships.
Data as of August 26, 2022