Sneakers - February 7, 2014

Sneakerhead Influence by the Numbers

At the time this went to print Campless had 118 Facebook fans, 250 251 followers on Twitter and sadly, not enough search volume to register in Google’s keyword reporting.  For now, ours is a labor of love and we appreciate the slow, steady increase in awareness that has been building in the sneaker community.  In the meantime, instead of clicking refresh on our stats page every 10 minutes, we’re taking a look at how some of our sneakerhead brethren stack up when it comes to social reach.  This is why we refer to ourselves as a sneakerhead data company, as opposed to simply sneaker data – we track data on all things related to the community, not just the kicks.  Case in point, our recent article on the Top 50 eBay Resellers.

The below analysis came about, as they often do, in response to a recent article that Complex published listing the 25 most influential people in sneakers right now.  While theirs was a fantastic, mostly qualitative, who’s who list of sneaker personalities, Nike execs and actual celebrities, we of course prefer to take a data first approach to things like this.

We collected the number of Facebook fans, Twitter followers and Instagram followers for over a hundred different sneaker retailers, resellers, manufacturers, celebrities, news sites and sneaker artists.  Many in the sneaker community are using other social platforms like YouTube, Reddit and Grindr (we’ll let you guess who), but we decided to limit it to the big three.  Sorry Heat fans, not that big three.

From there, we filtered out huge corporations, questionable resellers, sites that cover more than just sneakers and people who’d still be famous if they wore Doritos on their feet.  We added Fans and Followers from all three platforms to arrive at what we’ve dubbed “potential social media reach”.  We recognize there is a lot more to social reach than just followers and fans, but we wanted to start simple, to provide a baseline social view that’s easy to understand and compare.

We split the list into three categories — Content Sites, Shops and People.  From there we narrowed down each list to eleven — based primarily on largest social reach, but with some consideration to the sites and individuals we follow, find interesting, funny, informative or useful.  So, based on that intersection of data (90% quant, 10% qual), here are our top 33* most influential entities in sneakers, listed alphabetically by category:

Content Sites:  Complex Sneakers, Kicks Deals, KicksOnFire, Modern NotorietyNice Kicks, SneakerFilesSneaker FreakerSneakerNewsSneaker Steal, SneakerWatchSole Collector

Shops:  Alife, Bodega, Crooked Tongues, Flight Club, Foot Patrol, KithKixify, Pick Your Shoes, UbiqUNDFTD, WishATL

People:  DJ Clark Kent, FrankTheButcher, JBF Customs, KicksOlOgy, Mache Custom KicksMatt PowellRonnie FiegRuss BengstonShoeZeum, uptown2K, WhatTheKicks

Yes, we recognize that some People (Mache, JBF, ShoeZeum) could arguably be categorized under Shops, and that others could be placed elsewhere, as well, but it’s our analysis so that’s where they go today.

That’s is the list, so let’s get started.  All data is current as of February 2, 2014.

First up, Content Sites:

Sneaker Influence - Content Sites v2

Content Sites Insights:

  • SneakerNews and Nice Kicks come out on top, each with a potential reach of 2.1M.  Interesting to point out though is that SneakerNews’ reach comes mostly from their 1.7M Instagram followers, whereas Nice Kicks has a more even distribution, with 819K FB Fans and 956K Instagram Followers.
  • Complex Sneakers is 2nd to last on this list, with a reach of only 107K people.  However, ComplexMag has a reach of 1.1M and would rank 4th if included.  But, alas, this is a sneaker-only site list, and we chose to keep it Red Delicious to Granny Smith.
  • Sneaker Steal is dead last with only 74K.  It actually has a smaller reach than a few sites we had to omit, but we really like what they’re doing.  I’ll bet they climb up these rankings quicker than an RSVP bot.

Sneaker Influence - Shops v2

Shops Insights:

  • Flight Club has so many Instragram followers, they don’t even fit on the chart
  • Kixify is a solid #2, meaning that both of the top spots are held by resell platforms, while the bottom 9 are all retailers.  In fact, Flight Club’s reach is almost as great as the 9 retailers combined (689k vs. 718k)
  • UNDFTD and Kith are head and shoulders above the other retailers, which is not surprising considering how well UNDFTD has developed their brand and the continued surge of Ronnie Fieg (now averaging 3.75 collabs per month – unofficial stat)
  • We chose not to include any resellers because many of them were highlighted in our Top 50 eBay Resellers post, including Sole Supremacy, which has a reach of 52k, higher than several of the retailers included
  • I’m from Philly.  Ubiq rocks.  I used to live in Atlanta.  Wish rocks.

Sneaker Influence - People v2

People Insights:

  • Mache wins.  Easily.  People love looking at pictures of his work.  No argument there.  Like Flight Club, he has so many IG followers they don’t fit on the page.
  • We’ve included three Instagram stars:  WhatTheKicks, KicksOlOgy and uptown2k.  There are obviously many others, but we  personally follow these three, and all have a substantial enough following to place on the list.  WhatTheKicks, who is 2nd overall, wins the award for single-platform dominance, with 99.2% of his total reach coming from IG.  If not for his 1,537 Twitter (presumably his actual friends), he’d be at 100%.  uptown2k isn’t far behind at 98.4%; his meager Twitter following probably just a “Where’d you get those pants” hashtag gone wild.
  • Long-time sneaker stalwarts (and Quickstrike hosts) DJ Clark Kent and Russ Bengston occupy opposite ends of the spectrum, with Clark on the high end, no doubt due to his hip hop following.  It’s arguable that he should have been left off this list due to the “not famous elsewhere” requirement (hence why we left off many from the Complex list, including Kanye, Lebron and Kobe), but DJCK is so inextricably intertwined with the sneakerhead community, leaving him off would be like  ______ [fill in the blank and leave in the comments; this could be fun].
  • Ronnie Fieg.  What to say about him.  If you missed our joke above, allow me to repeat:  he is now dropping 3.75 new collabs per month – unofficial stat.  For real, check out the feature we did on his 2013 releases, including resell volume sold and average DS price.  We predict that by this time next year he’ll be number one on the list.
  • Matt Powell is dead last and would almost certainly have been excluded had this list been created by anyone else.  But we love sneaker data, and no one does sneaker retail data better than Matt.  He’s the yin to our resell data yang.  Ain’t no way we we’re leaving him off.
  • Finally, we wanted to put Gary Warnett on this list so bad, just to thank him for the Reebok Classic Leather collab which is one of our all-time favorites, or in reference to his Twitter background pic, but with a social reach of 6,834, there was no one we could justify dropping.

Cross Category Insights:

  • As a general proposition, content sites tend to have more Facebook fans than other categories, likely due to the fact that they have editorial content which is easily shared on FB pages
  • Shops and People tend to have more Instagram followers.  This makes sense as Instagram is the most visual of three social platforms and arguably the simplest to operate.  It’s also the hardest place to share editorial content.  As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand Twitter followers.”

And so ends our introductory analysis about sneaker influence and social reach.  Next time we’ll go beyond the big three.

Who did we miss?  Whose social reach surprised you?

*Choosing 33 instead of an even 30 was done in homage to Larry Legend and, in particular, this story from Bill Simmons’ NBA book:  During a game on Christmas Day against the Indiana Pacers, before tip-off Larry Bird told Chuck Person that he had a Christmas present for him. During the game, when Person was on the bench, Bird shot a three-pointer on the baseline right in front of Person. Immediately after releasing the shot, Bird turns to Person and says, “Merry fuckin’ Christmas”, and then the ball went in.