State of FCS Football Digital
SkullSparks continuously strives to interpret and share the current state of college football digital. We previously released analysis of the FBS and now we’re focusing on the 127 FCS college football teams.

Like the rest of our world, the pandemic severely disrupted FCS football in 2020. A majority of teams opted to delay seasons and play in the spring of 2021. The NCAA also moved the FCS postseason to the spring. Some teams did play a collection of games (55) in the fall.

Attendance was restricted, TV schedules were disrupted and content opportunities declined. Yet, as we’ll demonstrate, FCS creatives and external staff continued to deliver football team brands to recruits, fans and donors via digital in the face of unprecedented challenges in 2020.

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The vast majority of FCS teams, 125 of 127 (98%), maintain an official Twitter account while 114 (90%) have an active Instagram account. Fewer teams, 97 of 127 (76%), maintain an active Facebook page.

The 336 official FCS college football social accounts had a cumulative following of 2,983,974 on January 1, 2021. Of that total, 67% were Twitter followers, 17% from Instagram and 16% from Facebook.

The average FCS college football team counts 24k followers across its Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts. North Dakota State leads all FCS teams with 98k cumulative followers, closely followed by Montana (97k):

Twitter supplies more followers for FCS teams than any other platform, 2 million total (2,000,575). The average FCS team has 16k followers. North Dakota State has the largest Twitter following with 79k. Just 17% of team accounts are verified (21 of 125) with the coveted blue check. Twitter, we encourage you to verify our FCS football friends.

Instagram provides the next largest audience, half a million (500,398) followers across the 114 teams which maintain official accounts. The average team has 4k Instagram followers. Jackson State football has the largest Instagram audience with 22k. Just three of the 114 team accounts, NDSU, Jackson State and Austin Peay, are verified (3%).

Finally, Facebook is the source for another 483,001 followers across 97 FCS team pages with the average team counting 5k followers. Montana has the largest Facebook page with 45k followers. Facebook has verified 14 of 97 pages (17%).

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We amassed statistics for every tweet, Instagram and Facebook post for all 127 FCS college football teams in 2020.

The average team tweeted 0.8 times per day with Stephen F. Austin football tweeting the most at 2.64 per day. Teams averaged 294 tweets for the year with SFA on the high end tweeting a total of 965 times.

Teams averaged 23k interactions from their Twitter efforts with North Dakota State leading FCS college football with 137k interactions (likes and re-tweets). NDSU generated 122k likes and 15k RTs — both FCS highs.

On Instagram, teams averaged 0.3 posts per day in 2020. Cornell football posted the most, averaging 1.25 per day. Teams generated an average of 32k interactions from those posts with NDSU amassing an FCS-high of 249k total likes and comments.

The average interaction rate for FCS college football on Instagram was 7.6% with Morgan State at the high end at 31%. Teams averaged 50k views on original video posts with Montana generating a high of 439k views.

Finally, on Facebook, teams averaged 0.3 posts per day in 2020 with a high of 1.6 posts from SFA. Teams averaged 8k interactions (reactions, comments and shares) for the year on Facebook posts with Montana leading at 129k interactions.

The average interaction rate for the FBS was 1.4% with Long Island football generating a high of 9.7%. Teams averaged 34k views on video content with Montana amassing 663k views to lead FCS college football.

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We believe college athletics digital and design should inspire stakeholders including recruits, fans, donors to action. If someone interacts with content by liking, commenting or sharing, we believe this demonstrates a higher degree of effectiveness for the content. We recognize that many variables impact interaction but this is the best indication we can generate from analytics. | Analytics FAQ

Again, despite just 55 games in 2020, FCS creatives and external teams continued to engage recruits, fans and donors. The 127 FCS college football teams generated a total of 7,580,083 interactions across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in 2020.

Montana led all teams with 434k total interactions generated on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook followed by JMU (392k) and NDSU (386k). Full interactions list for all 127 teams:

Twenty-five of 127 FCS college football teams (20%) actually increased interactions from 2019. Jackson State led the FCS with an increase of 117k interactions (it helps when you name Deion Sanders as head coach). Idaho State (31k), Dixie State (24k), Cornell (24k) and UCA (24k) rounded out the top five teams increasing interactions from 2019.

Twitter supplied the most interactions for 64 teams while Instagram led for 59 teams. South Dakota State was the only team which generated more of its interactions on Facebook (by a very slim margin over Instagram).

That’s a ton of data but one thing is clear. Despite severe challenges in 2020, creatives and external staff continued to deliver FCS football team brands to recruits, fans and donors.

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Thanks to the athletics staff working hard behind the scenes to connect fans with the teams they love.

Jason R. Matheson