Background Image: Huffington Post. Image created in Canva.
Sports is a serious business in our household, and many around North America. With 31 billion hours of sports consumed on cable television in 2015 – up 41% from ten years earlier – it is no surprise that many sports organizations are looking to expand their reach and provide more content to audiences via social media. It is with Football Sunday in mind that I was drawn to look at some sports organizations which are using social media well, and provide some constructive criticism to an organization (near and dear to many in Ottawa) which would benefit from a more comprehensive social media strategy.
Social Media Strategy Winner: Toronto Maple Leafs
I have yet to find someone who is as repulsed by the Maple Leafs franchinse than myself. How people can continue to cheer and pay exorbitant ticket prices for a team that knows nothing other than defeat and loss is dumbfounding. One of my High School teachers put it best, remarking that all Leafs fans must be sadists given their love of pain.
But I’ll also be the first to admit that the team in arguably the world’s biggest hockey market is a winner when it comes to social media engagement. The Leafs have developed a fan community within existing social media platforms, embracing hashtags initially created by fans (#TMLTalk) on Twitter and frequently engaging with fans directly. There’s no questioning their reach, either: in 2014, the Leafs had 2.3 million mentions on Twitter. What comes to mind particularly is their engagement with fans and even other franchises during game time – sending memes and trading sassy (but professional) barbs with one another.
Source: The Chive
With such a large fan market, the Leafs have done well in engagement with “Leafs Nation” and providing then with social content they demand. They do have some room for improvement – their YouTube account subscriptions seem a little low considering their fan base – but overall, social media appears to be the only thing the Leafs are capable of #winning.
Social Media Strategy Winner: Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers‘ Twitter following may be about 1/7th of that of the Maple Leafs, but the Panthers have distibguished themselves as an admirable player on social media by embracing non-sports messaging and using less common platforms to communicate with their fans. The organization makes an effort to discuss topics beyond hockey, mentioning fans and celebrities and contributing to conversations outside of their standard domain (the photo of Poker Star Daniel Negreanu is an example ofthe Panthers backing on the social media prowess of others to get noticed). The Panthers have taken their social media game to platforms like Reddit to develop their fan base, providing opportunities to ask players questions (referred to as “Ask Me Anything (AMA” session), even posting about jobs within the Panthers organization on Reddit. This has gotten notice from other sports fans and teams, which may set a trend for others to follow.
Social Media Strategy Loser: New York Mets
It was difficult to find a sports organization that was not at least active on major social media platforms. While the New York Mets are actually active online – and do well at featuring their fans like in the post below – their ill-fated “#IAmAMetsFan” campaign serves as a cautionary tale for organizations who are looking to rally fans around a hashtag.
When you’re playing second fiddle to the New York Yankees, it is hard to maintain a loyal fan base. The Mets don’t have the greatest record, and trolls (plus frustrated fans) hijacked this would-be feel good hashtag to put fans and the team down.
Word to the wise for any organization adopting a hashtag campaign; be mindful of the wording you choose, and be sure that it won’t be taken over by more trolls than fans!
Which sports teams do you follow on social media? Who do you think deserves an MVP award for their online engagement game? Let me know in the comments below.