Little Twitter support for Hawks in Georgia

I’ve always believed there are lots of NBA fans in Metro Atlanta. Consider the strong television ratings for the playoffs and the thousands of fans who regularly invade Philips Arena to see marquee opponents play the Hawks.

The challenge for the Hawks is converting people who are fans of the NBA into fans of the Hawks. I've never thought that would happen until the Hawks acquired a superstar player who attracts those fans with no strong loyalty to the Hawks (insulting a large portion of the fan base didn't help the team's case). The recent surge in attendance and local television ratings for the superstar-less Hawks as they soar at the top of the East suggest maybe I'm wrong about that.

Still, data released by Twitter this week measuring support for NBA teams across the country shows the challenge the Hawks might have in winning over more basketball fans.

According to Twitter, the Hawks have the most followers in just six of Georgia’s 159 counties: Cherokee, Towns, Lumpkin, Forsyth, Clarke and Twiggs. Lakers followers dominate the state with the Heat No. 2. (Curiously, the Bulls have a lot of Twitter followers in Webster County, Ga., and the Suns get strong Twitter support in Pike County.)

Obviously measuring fan support only by Twitter followers can't fully capture the support for NBA teams (especially since "following" a team doesn't necessarily make one a supporter of that team). But it's a pretty good snapshot, especially since NBA fans are the youngest among the major sports leagues and Twitter users skew younger.

Worth noting: The Hawks' official Twitter account says it got #HawksFanTakeover trending in Atlanta and nationwide during the team's victory over Boston last night.

You can find Twitter's interactive map of its NBA followers data here.