Social Media Team Review: Raiders Nail It, Relationships Matter

As week 1 played out in the NFL, I was a student perusing around the social media of the clubs and media outlets. News flash: there’s a lot, and far too much to keep up with. So why not focus on a team, see what they do what can learned? I started by checking out my favorite NFL team — the Oakland Raiders!

I looked at the big four — Facebook, Twitter (with Vine thrown in, no Periscope for the Raiders on Sunday), Instagram (and IG Stories), and Snapchat.

You’ll see a snapshot of each platforms below, but I came away incredulously impressed, jaw-dropped with their Snapchat story. It was immersive – whomever was behind that phone had clearly developed rapport, trust, and relationships with players. On a game day no less! There is eye contact, playfulness, and just straight first-person attention to the fans watching on the other side. The trust also allows for amazing access. The social media manager is welcome instead of in the way or attempting to be invisible. There is plenty of fly-on-the-wall content, too, as you’ll see, but this aspect made the story really pop.

The access didn’t stop when the game started, either. On the road, in New Orleans, it was clear they had someone on the  sidelines Snapping to capture the game’s images, and even a few videos of live plays (your secret is safe with me!). There were up-close, raw reactions and celebrations, tension as a play went off, and a first-person view that fans cannot get elsewhere. Great access, good on them for the allocation of the resource (person), and it makes for a compelling Story.

Finally, post game was no different. Post game locker room access for social media is becoming a wider practice in the NFL and college (and I never take that cool access for granted), and the Raiders were right there, Head Coach Jack Del Rio is walking right toward you, heading in for the handshake. Then you’re in the locker room, right next to the players for the post game speech and celebrations after the crazy win against the Saints.

Really, just so much like to about what the Raiders did on Snapchat. It’s all easier said than done, but they did it, clearly backed by buy-in throughout and relationships with the players.

The Raiders’ entry into Instagram stories was a condensed version of their Snapchat Story. No problem with this. While some teams in pro and college are doing unique stuff with Instagram stories, it is fine an sound to mimic Snapchat to reach a broad Instagram audience not familiar with the Snapchat platform.

Their actual Instagram feed is of high-quality. There are some videos and graphics re-purposed across platforms, but there is also the eye-catching, emotive visuals for which the platform is known. They’re not overly filtered and selected with the intent to inspire and exude the feeling of inspiration and determination of the game. There is also a fair amount of volume in their feed throughout the day. Nothing too outside the box, but excellent, notably all organic (see the next section) work.

While Facebook likely garners the biggest audiences for NFL teams, it seems not many put too much into the platform during the games. The Raiders certainly shared plenty of content throughout the day, but this was mostly a place for pregame buzz, for post game results, and for sponsored content, and even a merchandise post. Facebook is clearly a nice revenue generator and, bundled with content, it delivers value to fans with sponsored posts. Though, not everything (including the post game graphic, a typically branded asset for many) is sponsored.

An additional note (which seems to be the case for many NFL teams) is that there is not as much content as there could be (or should be/can be/permitted to be?) for native consumption on Facebook. There may still exist a competitive desire to rise in the website and video start rankings among their NFL brethren and an ad engine in place to monetize those website views, with an easily monetized relationship not yet in place for Facebook. Or maybe it’s just content rights. That’s not to say the Raiders don’t see success with Facebook video, with a nice mix of raw and produced. I’m also a sucker for a strong quote graphic, a quick and easily consumable way to get content to a fan.

The platform that rules the in-game experience for most, the Raiders included, is Twitter. There is a lot going on with the Raiders Twitter and the amount of curation they deliver was what stood out most. From retweeting influencers, media, and players, and even somewhat more obscure finds (kudos to finding a sibling of Derek Carr, whose tweet showing a video of the family watching and celebrating at home, wouldn’t have been caught by key words, hash tags, @ mentions, or the Engage app), they, and Raiders’ fans, do not miss much. I kinda love how they retweeted a few Raiders win / end of game graphic  from various media outlets. These are often well-done, as much as the team’s official post.

They also did a solid job of sharing some good content in the can, whether an  emotional sizzle reel video, GIFs, graphics, or something fun to pass the time until kickoff. Fans can’t get enough and teams can’t produce enough. But diversity rules. The Raiders clearly don’t go about things willy-nilly, getting content strategically each and every day of game week, including quickly produced content from game day and the trip.

Post game didn’t just end with a handful of team tweets. While there was nothing live (on either Facebook or Periscope), the Raiders’ post game Twitter feed was primarily retweets, and they were also able to be one of almost 40,000 users to retweet Coach Jack Del Rio, who trolled the ESPN Stats and Info feed, that using stats, questioned his decision to go for two and the win instead of kicking an extra point and a tie and overtime. Staying in line with their strategy of surfacing the best content they think fans will want to see. They also included some great (except for one confusing one) use of Vine and some native video, in addition to video links. Not any Snappy TV use, but that my be limited by what the broadcast and league can provide.

You may call me biased as a longtime fan of the Silver and Black, but it is clear that the Raiders do not just treat social media as an afterthought. There is a point to each platform and a strategy that guides content preparation and real-time engagement and sharing. While there could be more native, more live, more UGC, more two-way engagement and conversation, the content the Raiders provide is phenomenal access that serves Raider Nation well. The access they gain and the organization when it comes time to execute shines through. That doesn’t happen overnight, so game balls to every member of the digital and social team for the Raiders for this review.

Win or lose, when you let fans in on the emotion, make them feel like they’re part of the team and on the sideline, and put them at the center of all conversations, fans are invested and loyal. Trust me, I’ve been a long-suffering Raiders fans. And it’s not just the team on the field that has me feeling good these days, but the fruits of a strong social media output, as well!

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