Can the NFL Score Millennials?

By Catherine Pierce

The NFL has one of the strongest brand marketing strategies in professional sports. It has extremely loyal customers and its CMO, Dawn Hudson, is one of the leaders in technology, media, and marketing. So it is surprising to some that the NFL has had problems with engaging millennials. According to one survey, 61% percent of millennials reported that they thought the NFL was “sleazy”. Their biggest problem with the brand is that they didn’t trust the organization and its players. In fact, millennials tend to be distrustful of most brands. They are not interested in a one-way conversation but they also are hesitant to give away too much personal information to brands. It doesn’t help that Millennials stray away from purchasing cable packages, the traditional medium of the NFL. The best way to reach Millennials and the younger fan base is through social media. Bringing the game online is essential in creating a loyal fan base with the up and coming market influencers but it is not the only thing the NFL must do. 

The first question the NFL must ask is, “what do millennials want from big brands?” Most millennials don’t trust corporations and big flashy advertisements. They are looking for authenticity. They want a brand that creates content that is compelling and accessible. One that engages and communicates with them. The best way to have content that achieves these goals is through new media such as Snap and Instagram, which allow fans to interact with the brand and helps them humanize the NFL.

Instagram is a key part of the NFL’s campaign to reach millennials. They use Instagram to post highlights, gather insights, and keep the fans up to date with everything that has happened during the week. The NFL has a relevant  Instagram by having a scheduled feed and providing current and useful information. They post photos to promote upcoming events, to share live events, and remind fans of past events.

This season, the NFL has launched a Snapchat discovery story, becoming the first sports league to do so. Along with the discovery channel, they have also created geo-filters for their 32 teams. The filters appear at team specific locations and allow fans to share their live experiences with their friends and generate excitement around the teams. The Snapchat channel appears for every game, as well as the league’s scouting combine and draft. Through the discovery channel, the NFL creates storylines throughout the week, showing live events and giving game highlights that fans can view and share with their friends. It is important to create content users will want to share with their friends. Snaps that users can alter and personalize will make more shareable content. Examples include letting users add emoji’s to the snap, having fill in the blanks, and circle the one you like more. Here are a few examples of what NFL Snap stories should look like below. 

The new mediums in social media should be used to keep fans up to date and allow them to interact with the sports brands. The NFL has been working hard to meet with millennials on their turf. They’ve decided to promote their brand through visual and humanizing platforms to build trust with a key constituency in the future. The NFL will continue to be innovative in sports marketing on new media in order to win over millennials.