The Pittsburgh Steelers have it pretty good. The franchise has mostly enjoyed success over the past several seasons and head into most Sundays expecting and planning to win. Nothing makes a social media team look a little better than a winning team! But it’s what you do with those wins, that opportunity, which matters most. Their social media would likely garner a lot of reach and engagement, regardless, but the Steelers are active and vocal, engaging at times, and are seeking to put out posts that’ll get shares and reactions.
The Steelers do a lot of re-purposing, but take care to select strong visuals, often with filters, for Instagram. While there is nothing eye-popping, the Steelers do curate a more visually appealing collection for Instagram, sharing the best photos (and some graphic templates they use across the board) and also sharing information like stats and scores from the game. They had some video in their feed pregame, but very little outside of a couple players walking in videos for Instagram Stories, but I did appreciate their stream remained fairly active during and after the game. The combination of solid selection of photos and strong copy made for an Instagram presence that garnered engagement, but the presence is a thoughtful, efforting check on the list.
Without a doubt, Twitter takes up 90% of their in-game attention, and they’re quick to the trigger, with a constant flow of, well, tweets, that bears resemblance to a fan’s timeline, in many ways. In the pregame window, there was a lot of two-way engagement, retweets and replies with team, fans, players, and even Aramark Sports tweeting out a photo of some food specialty at the game that day. There was also a decent volume of photos and video that fans on Snapchat that fans on other platforms saw, as well. Once the game began, however, the two-way engagement was all Steelers tweets, even as the team started to take over and dominate the New York Jets in the game.
There were a lot of other notable items in the pregame for the Steelers, including a plethora of photos of their jerseys and some good video from on the field during warm-ups. While later in the game they directly tweeted out some in-game injury information, they used a generic ‘Game Day Inactives’ graphic with a link to see the inactive players by visiting their website.
The Steelers’ Twitter feed during the game was primarily the voice of a fan in the room watching alongside Steelers nation. While just about no one wants to see simply a simple feed of play-by-play, many team Twitter timelines are full of reactions and GIFs alongside big plays, stats milestones, photos, etc. There were some basic updates early in the game, notably using the ‘we’ pronoun. For most of the game, the Steelers had several tweets that were one or just a few words. It may have been perfect, inside-joke commentary when all of their Twitter followers were already watching the action, anyway. There were some well-crafted visuals, including a bumble-bee “84” design for Antonio Brown (indicating a big play) and some turns of phrase. Some of the time, they followed up an exclamatory tweet with a reply that gave more detail, which is a nice touch. They did have some pre-made GIFs, but only used a couple toward the end of the game.
The Steelers maintained a steady volume in the post game window on Twitter, as well. They tweeted out some quotes from the post game presser, but did not do any live video (Periscope or Facebook Live) of post game interviews. They also retweeted a handful of players celebrating the win, similar to what they did pregame.
As is the case with many teams, Snapchat was a champion for pregame content, but relatively dormant once the game started. The Steelers had tremendous access and the knowing eye contact and looks from players that underscored the trust and relationship developed, which permits such great access and content. There were the requisite shots of the team arrival, some shots of warm-ups on the field, some solid video of fan interaction [including a player selfie with fans], and a sweet snap from inside the tunnel for player intros. After the pregame, there was no other new content on the Steelers Snapchat, including the rest of the night after the Steelers’ win. Also notable was I did not use of any custom Snapchat geofilter for the Steelers / Heinz Field nor any use of the NFL game graphic geofilters.
The Steelers were more active than many teams on Facebook, with mostly shared links and the score update graphics and some select in-game photos on their Facebook feed throughout the game day. Like many teams, they also had the team logo profile photo frame. While most of the content was indeed shared links, they did share a handful of photos of their bumble bee jerseys from the locker room prior to the game. They also shared a few photos on Facebook in the pregame window, but surprisingly no video.
During the game, there was the in-game score graphics for the end of each quarter, along with, pretty much, a few of their top performing tweets — similar copy and visual. They also were directing fans to follow commentary and analysis on their team website.
Following the win, the Steelers continued to post content, including more links, a new cover photo, and a graphic for Big Ben. They did share video highlights [via a shared link], but no native video from the game or from post game pressers. Facebook is a content source for the Steelers and they serve fans a good amount, but it is an above-average presence at best.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are among the most historic and successful franchises in the NFL. When you can head into Sunday able to plan on a win and engaging a happy fan base, more often than not, it allows for a more flexible social media strategy, with a little attitude and fun. The Steelers exhibit such a tone in much of their social media and may benefit from a majority of fans that don’t miss a minute of the game and look to the Steelers for, well, just for fun. They had a unique look and feel, both on the field (in those jerseys) and off the field.
PS: Had to share this fun video they posted on Tuesday! See below…
Welcome back. We’re certainly glad you can join us today for The Joy of Painting with Ross Cockrell. pic.twitter.com/Fk4xXC8Yt1
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 4, 2016