6 minutes

Affinity Data Tells Us Who the #SportsBiz Thought Leaders Are

The other day, I joined a conversation on Twitter that ignited a whole community. As a content marketer, I love when this happens! It means you’ve reached the right audience with content that resonates with them.

The Background

In this case, it was a sports business thought leader calling out a writer for not including any ladies in his article on the “7 Sports Business Guys You Should Follow on Twitter.” I jumped in on the conversation with an image of the top 100 most relevant Twitter accounts in Sports Marketing. The crowd went wild! There were (and still are) people congratulating their friends for making the list and thanking me for including them. 

As Joe Favorito pointed out, my tweet didn’t elaborate on how this list was created or why it’s important. So I thought I would take a quick moment to explain why these sports business leaders should be excited to be on this list and to share what else I learned about the #SportsBiz community in my research.

How The List Was Created

We see a lot of lists of “Top Influencers” or “Thought Leaders to Listen To” across industries. They are each created based on different criteria, some more credible than others. I used Affinio to create this list. Affinio is a marketing intelligence platform that segments and understands audiences through their interests. When understanding who and what is relevant to a particular community of people, we don’t care about how many followers someone has, or how often they tweet, or engagements on their posts. We care about who and what the community is interested in and passionate about by looking at their following patterns. Using this methodology, we can understand who and what any interest-based community has a high affinity for.

To identify the SportsBiz community, I ran an interest-based segmentation analysis on anyone that mentioned #SportsBiz in the last 30 days. The Affinio algorithm then compiled all of the unique people who mentioned the term and began to analyze each of their following patterns. Over about 45-90min, the algorithm matches people with similar interests and groups them into clusters. Here’s what this looks like:


This is the audience visualization of anyone discussing #SportsBiz. This allows us to understand the context in which people are using the hashtag. As you can see, the “Sports Biz” cluster is very dense. This means that this cluster of people are highly interconnected (likely to know each other) and have a high degree of shared interests. I get so excited when I come across these unique communities – it’s always fun to dive in and learn more about their culture, their interests, and what they are talking about.

Here is what I learned about the Sports Biz community:

Top Interests


To some, this may be a collage of people and logos they have never seen before. For the sports business community, the is a list of the “who’s who”. I’ve met a fair amount of people on this list, and when I show it to them, they can list all of these names without me showing them who they are. For those of us not in this community, if you would like to know who they are, click on the image to download the full list.

Why are these accounts important?

These are the people, brands, publications, media, etc. that are contextually relevant to this unique community. This isn’t a list of people with large audiences, these are people that really matter to the SportsBiz community. This is a collage of what this community is passionate about and who they look to for thought leadership and expertise.

If you are an aspiring Sports Business professional, this is a cheat sheet to get to know the business. This data tells you who you should be following and engaging with for thought leadership, and where you should go for industry news.

What else can we learn about the SportsBiz community?

How they self-describe


These are words pulled from the Twitter bios of people in this community. Not only do these people talk about #SportsBiz, they self-describe as #SportsBiz.

What Sports Business Pros Talk About


These are the hashtags used most by this community over the last 30 days. This tells us what the most popular and important topics were to the SportsBiz community in the last month. There’s been a lot going on in sports: #Rio2016, #NBAFinals, #Euro2016, #UFC200, and others.

Who Sports Business Pros Are Talking To


This is a wordcloud of the Twitter accounts most mentioned by the Sports Business community. Darren Rovell, ESPN Sports Business commentator is getting a lot of mentions! But so is SBJ (Sport Business Journal) and Sport Techie, two of the top publications for this community ranked #1 and #4 respectively on the list of interests above.

Emojis in Sport Business


Emoji Marketing is emerging as a ‘thing’. We use emojis to add context and emotion to our messages. Check out this post we did on Emojis. While not shocking at all, we can see that this community uses a lot of the sports-related emojis.

Where is the Sports Business Community?


Here, we get a sense of where these people are located. The SportsBiz community is mainly located on the eastern seaboard of the US and California.

The Difference between USA vs UK-based Sports Business Communities

One thing that I found really interesting in the audience visualization, is that there are distinct US and UK-based sports business communities. This means that the UK-based sports business professionals’ interest profiles are different enough that they broke into a separate cluster. Check out a side by side comparison of the US and UK Sports Business Communities interests:


As you can see, the top thought leaders and top publications differ from one region to another. We also see a large focus on soccer (or football) in the UK interests.

So, there you have it. A brief look into the world of the Sports Business community. If you would like to take a look at the full analysis or have any questions, send me a tweet or get in touch with us here.