Every NFL team trains in the offseason with eyes on the Super Bowl. Finding an edge that’ll get them to the title game. It happens in the other non-playing departments of the organization, too.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been first in a lot of things over the years on digital and social; for example,. when they hosted private Direct Message conversations with players and season ticket holders. This spirit of finding creative new ways to engage their fans was what stood out most in this latest NFL team review, which unfortunately happened to fall on a Sunday when the Bucs were routed by the Cardinals 40-7 in a week two matchup.
Social media, particularly on game day, comes down to fan engagement. And the Bucs leave no stone unturned in identifying things their fans enjoy and want to do, and taking it up a notch. Check out the great page of downloadable GIFs they made available to fans, to GIF their way through a game. They also had a mobile app-based game, and made use of the Facebook frame, which has risen in popularity. It’s a lot easier to be a super fan, when such tools are readily available.
As with many, most of their activity on game day and during the game came via Twitter. They had their own supply of prepared GIFs, all in line with similar look and feel. There is simultaneously value to the brand consistency and staleness in the relative uniformity. They also made use of pregame (some premade, some real-time) hype videos and GIFs. Some of these were shared on other platforms, too. No Snappy TV highlights, but that may have been because of the lopsided affair.
Continuing the theme of taking advantage of all the tools was the Bucs’ use of the click to tweet Twitter card made available to NFL teams from Twitter. The Bucs exhorted fans to tweet #SiegeTheDay, their official, emoji-laden hash tag. Also notable (and commendable) was their engagement on college football Saturday.
A few other quick, but notable observations: retweets of the beat guys was a primary way to pass on information, in-game polls were good, sporadic use of native vs. linked video, link to live video (as opposed to Periscope). And, looking back at the previous week’s winning timeline, there was a bit more playfulness and engagement. No interaction with fans during the game, for what it’s worth. They also had some score update graphics and, on the winning week, a free shipping sale for merchandise.
While Twitter was where most of the action was, there was a little pregame content on Snapchat. It must be noted that the Bucs were on the road this week, but I do see many teams getting great content, even when on the road. There was a little look around upon arrival at the stadium and a couple peeks at warm-ups. It felt a bit like a PR guy doing his best (commendable), but not the type of incredible content possible on the platform when someone socially dedicated [and with the time do so] snaps a story.
Instagram was also a bit of a check-the-box execution for the Bucs. There was no Instagram Live Story, a bit surprising with just 16 Sundays and being able to upload prepared content. Gotta like the post of the player dressed in their threads en route to the game, and repurposing their hype video. Their close-up of the uniform was creative, though a bit hard to focus on. (IG zoom!) But once the game started, there were just a few Getty photos and nothing that truly wow-ed.
Finally, Facebook was not particularly exciting (granted, a loss). Good to have the hype video to post. After the game, a little native video then linked to a full presser. Similarly, a single photo post linked to a full gallery. Between Twitter and Facebook, the goal seemed to be site traffic over native content consumption, let alone native live platforms like Periscope and Facebook Live. (Including the week prior with the win). Again, their Facebook profile frame is great!
Win-loss, home-away — it’s important to serve fans the content they crave. It’s fueling and feeding passions, whether burning with stress, anxiety, joy, anger, elation. The Bucs are most focused on innovating and augmenting the behaviors their fans are already doing. While still serving up content directly, they empower their fans to amuse themselves and evangelize the team and the brand. They cultivate a community in the macro social world.
There’s no perfect social strategy. The goals remain an engaged, invested audience. You can build super fans. Give them the reason and the tools to do so.