Traylor, Tayvis, or Swelce

A look at how a social listening tool can quantify a mega influencer's impact

Henry Chapman, Research and Insights Analyst

A budding romance and a brand new audience

We at Infegy are surprised and a bit bemused about the world's discovery that Travis Kelce is a football player who plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Alright, we're joking.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably noticed the extensive coverage of Taylor Swift's budding romance with Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce in tabloids, sports journals, and mainstream news outlets. Taylor Swift's passionate fanbase, known for its online fervor, has eagerly engaged in conversations about Kelce. This newfound attention has significantly boosted his brand presence and has the potential to elevate him to the same level of stardom as Patrick Mahomes. It also has affected the NFL, resulting in Sunday Night Football's largest viewership of the season. Young women made up a more significant portion of the audience, a key growth area for the NFL's traditionally male viewership.

Leveraging Infegy Atlas as our trusted social listening tool, we were well-equipped to measure the substantial impact of the "Swift effect" on Kelce's overall brand and online presence. We will demonstrate that while Taylor Swift and the NFL's target demographic have yet to experience significant changes, mainly due to their substantial brand strength and size, Kelce's typical audience has undergone a remarkable transformation.

Comparing post volume across Kelce, NFL, and Swift brands

Just like all of our social listening analyses, we'll first look at post volume across Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce, and the NFL. Let's take a minute to acknowledge just how staggeringly large Swift's audience size is. People posted about Taylor Swift 72,161,649 times over the last three months, dwarfing the 17,677,825 posts the entire National Football League received over the same time frame.

However, the more interesting story here is the growth of each of those entities. While Taylor Swift's post volume remained relatively flat, the NFL's post volume grew by 140% over the last three months. This growth is hardly surprising. We expect more posts about football as we enter the beginning of football season going into the fall. However, due to the attention Taylor Swift's fan base paid, Travis Kelce's post volume grew by an astounding 2,056% over the last three months. It's important to note here that Kelce wasn't exactly an unknown quantity - he's one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Our takeaway is that mega-influencers like Taylor Swift are so powerful that they can lift people's online personas even if they have sizable audiences. We quantify that effect using Infegy Atlas, our powerful social listening tool.

Image 1 - Comparative Post Volume (Swift, NFL, Kelce)-1

Figure 1: Comparative post volume for Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce, and the National Football League (July 2023 through October 2023): Infegy Atlas data.

Swift transforms Kelce's online persona

Now that we've looked at overall growth numbers let's look at overlapping conversation shares. Figure 2 shows the relative conversation size across Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce, and the Kansas City Chiefs. Using a custom-built data visualization from Infegy Atlas's API, we can identify and visualize how significant the overlaps are between Swift and Kelce's online personas.

We detected 208,030 posts that mentioned Kelce over the last week. Roughly two-thirds of the posts that mentioned Kelce also mentioned Taylor Swift. This share differed from the reverse - only a few posts mentioning Swift said Kelce. This discrepancy shows the imbalance in size and influence between the two people. Swift's online audience is so large that the Kelce relationship looks like a minor blip within the conversation. On the other hand, Kelce was less well-known in quantity. As a result, Swift's mega fanbase has dominated any different online conversation that might have mentioned Kelce over the last week.

Image 2 - Conversational Share (Swift, NFL, Kelce)

Figure 2: Sets of posts showing overlapping Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce, and Kansas City Chiefs's conversation (September 2023 through October 2023): Infegy Atlas data.

Travis Kelce’s Source Interests

Now that we've looked at raw aggregations let's look at how we can quantify Travis Kelce's shifting audience after Taylor Swift's attention. We'll start with Source Interests. These categorize all the other posts that people post about a particular topic. When we look at Kelce’s audience's Source Interests, we see unsurprising source interests like American Football, College Football, Basketball, and Sports. However, Country Music emerged over the last week with 95% growth. People talking about Travis Kelce were 8.9 times more likely to mention country music than the average social media user on the internet. This growth in people's interest in country music reflects an influx of a new type of audience - specifically Taylor Swift fans.

Image 3 - Source Interests (Kelce)

Figure 3: Source interests of accounts who post about Travis Kelce (July 2023 through October 2023); Infegy Atlas data.

Image 4 - Kelce Changing Source Interests

Figure 4: Pop culture source interest by gender of those who posted about Travis Kelce (August 2023 through October 2023); Infegy Starscape data.

Travis Kelce's changing Source Bio trends

Next, we'll get a bit more explicit - we'll look at Rising and Falling Travis Kelce Source Bio Topics over the last three months. Source bio topics are how users describe themselves online within their Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok bio. They're a great way to get an aggregated view of an audience because we're looking at source descriptions straight from the social media user's fingertips.

Within our time frame, we see falling proportions of typical football-related keywords ("football," "coach," "sports," and "games"). Replacing those keywords is an entirely new category of topics - specifically those displayed in light green. We notice distinctly Taylor Swift-related keywords ("Taylor Swift," "lover," "girl," "Swiftie") - keywords that take up more than half of the rising topics. These have grown exponentially over the past few days, especially after Taylor and Kelce's relationship became more public.

Image 5 - Changing Source Bios-1

Figure 5: Rising and Falling Source Bio Topics associated with Travis Kelce (July 2023 through October 2023); Infegy Atlas data.

Travis Kelce's growing female fanbase

Let's pay attention to that specific rising topic, "girl." This topic is crucial for Kelce and the entire National Football League. Football has been male-dominated since its inception.. Executives at the NFL have tried for decades to expand their reach into a female fanbase to grow the league's size and influence.

Within Travis Kelce's audience, Swifties' attention has reversed Kelce's traditionally male-dominated audience. Over the last three months, Kelce's share of female voices has grown a staggering 7,647%, more than three times the growth of his male audience. Additionally - women make up 53% of the total Kelce-related conversation. This conversational share is a wild outlier when considering how male-dominated the NFL-related discussion is.

This female attention specifically mentions Taylor Swift - Swift emerges as a top female topic. We'll see whether the women who came from the romance will stay for the football.

Image 6 - Kelce Gender Demographics-1

Figure 6: Travis Kelce Gender Trends (July 2023 through October 2023); Infegy Atlas data.

How is this affecting the NFL at large

We detected growth in audience diversity within NFL-related conversation, especially with female social media users. We track a 146% growth in female NFL-related posters over the last three months. However, we had more significant questions - specifically, how much is this shaping overall conversation around the NFL?

Using Infegy Atlas's Narratives, we determined that while this made up a proportion of NFL-related conversation, the proportion paled in comparison to the proportion within the Kelce conversation. This conversational share makes sense - the NFL is a massive organization with a different audience than Taylor Swift. While we didn't see an outsized response, the fact that we saw any response at all speaks to the power and influence of a massive audience like Swift's.

Image 7 - NFL Narratives

Figure 7: Narratives attributed to the National Football League (July 2023 through October 2023); Infegy Atlas data.

Takeaways for your social listening practice

Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift's budding romance underscores the immense power mega-influencers like Swift wield over online conversations and audience dynamics. By leveraging a robust social listening tool like Infegy Atlas, we have witnessed the transformative power of the "Swift effect" on Kelce's brand and audience. Notably, it has led to significant growth in Kelce's online presence, a remarkable shift in his audience demographics, and even an impact on the NFL's viewership.

The importance of using a good social listening tool for your brand cannot be overstated. It allows you to quantify the impact of changing audiences and external factors on your brand's online persona. In the digital age, understanding and adapting to these shifts are critical for maintaining brand relevance and effectively engaging with your audience. As demonstrated in this case, staying attuned to the evolving interests and conversations in your industry can lead to valuable insights and strategic opportunities.

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