The cynical notion that Minnesota Gophers hockey is less popular than it once was, and that fans have not really latched on to Big Ten hockey, took a considerable blow this week. In terms of social media interaction, the Gophers were far and away the most popular program in college hockey in March, and Big Ten teams hold four of the top spots in the nation.
Numbers posted by SkullSparks.com, an Oklahoma-based creative group that works with college teams on digital design and strategy, showed that last month the Gophers social media platforms — Instagram, Twitter and Facebook — generated 330,000 interactions, while second place Wisconsin had 251,000. Also in the top five were Michigan (210,000), Boston College (173,000) and Notre Dame (136,000).
The Gophers are known for an active and creative social media team, sending out game updates, hype videos and content related to their celebration of 100 college hockey seasons. Their run to the Big Ten playoff title last month likely helped drive engagement.
A more detailed breakdown of the numbers showed the Gophers were most popular on Instagram, with 173,000 interactions. Their Facebook (83,000) and Twitter (74,000) pages were second and third. The official Gophers accounts have 84,500 followers on Twitter, 48,300 followers on Instagram and 90,000 likes on Facebook.
"Being the 100th season of Gopher Hockey, this was an important year for the program, and the pandemic threw a curveball at us in terms of executing everything we had planned," said Brian Deutsch, the team's athletic communications contact.
Deutsch and social media coordinator Erin Godin are the Gophers' primary social media team.
"We're certainly proud of the work our external group did in adapting under the circumstances and keeping our fans connected to the program through our channels during an exciting year," Deutsch said. "I believe we have the most passionate fanbase in college hockey, and the team sure gave us much to celebrate this season. We're excited to keep the momentum going on and off the ice."
Three more teams from the region made SkullSparks’ top 10 for March, with North Dakota (128,000), national champion UMass (125,000), Minnesota State University-Mankato (91,000), Penn State (55,000) and St. Cloud State (55,000) next on the list