These Brands Broke the Internet in 2015

Lego, NFL and MTV led the way in social engagements

These brands were the talk of social media in 2015. Photo Illustration: Dianna McDougall; Sources: Getty Images, LEGO®

The Force was strong with Lego this year.

The toy maker, one of many brands that partnered with Disney and its record-setting Star Wars: The Force Awakens, outpaced every other brand in 2015 in online engagement, according to data from social analytics firm ListenFirst Media.

Bolstered by collaborations with Star Wars, Marvel and The Simpsons, Lego collected some 727,023,059 engagements this year, per the company's Digital Engagement Rating, which measures engagements across a variety of social platforms. Lego was especially strong on YouTube with its vast array of commercial spots, becoming the most-engaged brand on the video platform with some 1,841 uploads this year.

(If you're wondering about Star Wars itself, buzz around The Force Awakens was measured in a separate category just for films. The newest installment in the franchise generated 276 million engagements, 46 percent more than Avengers: Age of Ultron's 190 million, ListenFirst Media said.)

Even more impressive, Lego was able to topple the National Football League, which, despite numerous off-the-field troubles and increased scrutiny over head injuries (a certain movie the league would like everyone to forget starring Will Smith comes out on Christmas day), continues to be the most popular sport in the country. The NFL ended up with 663,602,329 engagements this year, nearly 200 million more than the third place finisher, MTV.

The league was the top brand on Twitter and Instagram, using both social platforms to keep fans engaged this season on Sundays. Naturally, engagements peaked all the way back in February during Super Bowl XLIX (Richard Sherman certainly had something to do with that). Surprisingly though, the top posts on the platforms had nothing to do with the games. The NFL's tribute to the late ESPN anchor Stuart Scott in January was its top Instagram post and a Tweet supporting Leah Strong from the ESPYs in July was the league's top Twitter post.


Rest In Peace, Stuart Scott.

A photo posted by @nfl on


Though MTV has struggled to get its viewers to watch the network on traditional TV, it should be no surprise that the younger-skewing network led the way on digital this year, with 464,653,122 engagements. MTV was the only TV network to finish in the top 10 and was the top brand overall on Facebook. Their most engaging post on the social platform was a tribute to the late Paul Walker posted in early April.

Additionally, Walker's Furious 7 co-star Vin Diesel's tribute during the MTV Movie Awards was the network's best video on YouTube. MTV also got heavy engagement at the end of the summer with the MTV Video Music Awards.

Hasbro and Walmart, which finished fourth and fifth, respectively, were right behind Lego on YouTube in terms on engagements. Walmart's top video, with 23 million views, features Drew Barrymore promoting their Optical Center, while the top video for Hasbro was a music video based off their Equestria Girls toy line (22 million views).

The rest of the top 10 were as follows: Victoria's Secret, Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Google and Adidas.

The ListenFirst Digital Engagement Rating (DER) is a raw aggregate of daily engagements based on owned, earned and organic consumer behavior on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Wikipedia and YouTube. These engagements encompass metrics pertaining to audience growth, page/profile views, page-level and post-level interactions, hashtag volume and Wikipedia page views for all brand pages (which provides a proxy for organic search volume).

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