We marvel at the hundreds of thousands of fans that have flocked to Facebook (and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat) to follow their favorite sports teams. To get content, to show pride, to engage. Outside of the major pros exists a passionate community of minor and junior leagues, too, with tens of thousands of fans, if not more, that can’t get enough of their minor and junior league teams.
What follows is a look at the Facebook Fans for the two major minor leagues for the NHL – the American Hockey League (AHL, NHL’s “AAA” division) and the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL, NHL’s “AA” division), as well as the three major junior leagues that comprise the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) – the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Western Hockey League (WHL), and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), in which talented teenagers compete. There are some huge pages, some extremely small ones, and some common themes that connect those succeeding.
The disparity is certainly notable between the leagues and the clubs in each league. The ones that are winning generally come from areas with built-in cultures of hockey and, oftentimes, a history and a history of winning.
The ones that score for scale and engagement are producing content that amplifies this inherent connection and fosters those emotional ties that come from the culture and the history. When there are towns with population sizes that could barely fill a football stadium or two, and the hockey team is one of the oldest and/or most well-known and beloved institutions around, the opportunity to take these relationships digital (thereby enhancing the emotional tie and frequency of exposure) is epic.
Of course, with that fidelity comes the concept that a Facebook follow as nothing more than a badge of honor for a fan, particularly these days when organic engagement is more difficult than ever to attain. A fan that doesn’t engage and consume is nice to have, but leaves much to be desired. When data and activity and attention reigns supreme, the ROI typically involves some sort of, well, action.
There exists an opportunity to turn these digital fan bases into active consumers and fan evangelists. Find ways to garner attention and action. Seek out channels through which you can reach fans directly. Define a funnel to see a fan through from introduction to valuable activity and data collection to learn more about how that funnel should look.
I’m a bit biased toward a mobile app, An owned, personalized, controllable platform. Check out more about what I do at Hopscotch.