By Ashley Shiels
#HTTL? #FeedDaBears? #BeRedSeeRed?
Whatever your team, you can be sure of one thing: They are on social media and they are proud of their personal hashtag.
There are three types of social media uses: Strategic, operational, and user-focused. For the purposes of this blog we are going to focus on Strategic uses, or social media use from the viewpoint of the brand—in this case, the NFL. Every NFL team has their own Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and are encouraged to interact with fans when they can. During both the on and off season, the NFL posts regular status updates for its followers on Twitter and Facebook allowing them to keep up with the games going on in real time, player updates, and the ability to maintain knowledge of probabilities of their fantasy football games. Many of the tweets that go out include hashtags, or labels in the social world that allow to make sense of content, and brands to spread a marketing campaign across the “Twitterverse.” This way, when users look at a tweet, they can simply click on the hashtag and enter into a collection of all other content that also used that hashtag. For example, if a player has just scored an 18-yard touchdown, the NFL social media profile managers could put out a status update (tweet/post) that included “#NFLSundayFootball.” By doing this, social media managers can provide interactive content for their consumers and also allow for brand awareness.
As an exciting time for new social media opportunities as it is. there are also things that need to be watched out for when this many people are now tuning in. Just because social media is there doesn’t mean that all content is fitted for it. Its possible to put a message in just the right medium for it to get too much attention causing a problem for the brand.
When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, suggesting a lack of allegiance to a nation with the social injustices that are occurring, the story took social media by storm. Regardless of if the protest is valid, it has caused problems for the NFL brand. For the NFL patriotism is the brand, and Kaepernick skewed it by offending some fans who see the gesture as disrespecting the U.S. flag, the military and the nation in general causing him to lose some endorsements. This is the kind of thing that can occur and the reason that social media management is so important especially on these big sites like Facebook and Twitter.
In another sense, this turned into a marketing campaign that went viral as athletes around the nation began to protest as well. Unbiased to whether this is good or bad attention, it’s attention for the brand nonetheless; it got people engaged and interacting with the organization and each other. This is always a goal of sports social media usage; improvement is constantly desired. NFL teams are using social media as a way of providing an enhanced level of involvement as well as a source of acknowledgement on a personal level. However, this is only the beginning and there is a lot of growing to do. Specific teams may have a large number of fans or followers, but it is the quality of content that needs to be assured and it seems that the NFL has turned to five ideas for content in hopes of increasing their Facebook Traffic:
- Keep it simple
- Encourage Participation
- Rewarding Dedication
- Real-Time Engagement
- Promoting Awareness and discussion
The NFL has done some really great things on social media when it comes to engagement. The constant access they provide and the ability of fans and followers to feel that inclusion when using sites like Twitter and Facebook, whenever and wherever, is what makes it stand out as a brand. Social media can be messy business but being out there and engaged with consumers will provide much more positive feedback if the management is handled correctly. By striving to follow the five steps mentioned above, social media teams in the sports industry can work their way to a better experience with social media as a whole.