Social Media Team Review: Vikings Thoughtfully Seize The Opportunities

The Minnesota Vikings don’t have decades of dominance. Nor do they have national an base of their division rivals, the Green Bay Packers. But the Vikings understand the power social media has to make a team stand out and to give their fans something they can’t get elsewhere.

A recent review of their game day social media, a fairly lopsided 38-25 loss on the road at Green Bay that dropped Minnesota to 7-8 on the season showed that the Vikings prepare with a purpose and are ready to react to, and maximize, just about anything. Their team utilized every platform and gave their fans shareable, visual content throughout the day.

The Vikings gave their fans an exceptional pregame experience with their use of Snapchat, which also included use of Spectacles. While Snapchat was primarily pregame – the platform allowed fans to get that look at all the activity surrounding the game. And, boy, did they make some lemons from lemonade when their 70 minute plane flight turned into a 5+ hour trip, which included a long wait on the ground at the airport in Wisconsin. Instead of wiping their eyes at the thought of little sleep that night, the Vikings social media team slapped on some Spectacles to capture the experience of the Broncos deplaning via a firetruck rig. By the time their rescue rig arrived, the Vikings had to know their harrowing tale had kinda gone viral and that providing some unique content that fans could not get anywhere else, they would have a win on their hands.

The next morning saw some more typical Snapchat pregame content, with quick shots of player arrivals to the stadium and setting the scene, with a first look at the empty stadium. The Vikings continued experimenting with Spectacles, following the players on their walk down the stairs to the field for warm-ups. They got unique positioning for fan’s eye view of players walking by fans hoping for a high five.

Once on the field for warm-ups, the Vikings continued donning the Spectacles and made sure to get in precise positions to deliver some great content to fans — including a view of receivers catching in warm-ups, linemen taking dry snaps, and a cool / meta look through the lens of a sideline photographer. Once the game began, the only Snap came from a sideline shot of WR Adam Thielen after a touchdown (they may have done more if the game was going differently?) and then a final score graphic uploaded via Memories after the game.

Another place the Vikings shined with pregame content was through their use of Instagram and Instagram Stories. Their use of the Stories platform included novel and unique use of the platform’s features to deliver content just a little differently. The Vikings stuck to Snapchat for their travel tale content, and the first use of Stories came with player arrivals the next day. There were more one-on-one arrival shots on IG Stories than on Snapchat, and you gotta like they took the time to find Instagram’s Christmas-theme candy cane font.

After arriving to the field, the Instagram Story content resembled that of the Vikings Snapchat — but different — more, well, for Instagram. We saw some of the close-up access and entrance shots (not to be taken for granted, especially now available to an arguably larger audience on Instagram for the Vikings), as well as a nice shot of TE Kyle Rudolph’s special Christmas Eve warm-up cleats. They also snagged a player dancing during warmups and took the time to use the Boomerang effect, which added even more to the content.

The Vikings continued to use the Boomerang feature to great effect, and did so in a way that enhanced the content (not just doing just to do it; or, worse, making the content worse). There were big linemen bouncing back and forth and a hyped huddle that looked even more hype in the Vikings’ IG Story. The Story stopped once the game began, appended only with a final score graphic to give the story an ending.

While I enjoyed their pregame Instagram Story, the Vikings’ Instagram feed was active throughout the day, as well. The content on their feed was mostly some eye-catching, prepared graphics, trying to capture attention in the feed. They did include a shot from the plane here and then had a handful of pre-planned content to set the stage for game day. This included a cartoon drawing (re-purposed across platforms) of a Vikings stomping some cheese, and a few matchup graphics prior to the game started. Rudolph’s cleats also got some love on the feed. While the Vikings had hype videos for Facebook and Twitter, their Instagram feed did not feature any video this Sunday.

Once the game began, the Vikings’ Instagram feed featured score graphic updates (and strong photos in each, non-sponsored) after each quarter and some select in-game shots from Thielen doing a “Lambeau Leap,” a Kai Forbath field goal, and a sack later in the game. The Vikings may not have been having a great time on the scoreboard, but their Instagram feed did not go silent until the end of the game with a final score graphic, which would be their last post of the day on the platform.

Of course, where we see the most volume of content, and discover the ‘voice’ of the team, is on Twitter and the Vikings did not disappoint there. The Vikings made sure not to let their travel experience pass without amplifying all of the fun, endearing content players were putting out via social media, retweeting several pieces of content related to the experience. They also shared a snippet of their Spectacles content.
Then, the preparation came into play – with a pregame hype video, a simple but perfect short video in which snacks for Santa were rightfully replaced with a Vikings cookie, and pregame visuals, including the aforementioned cartoon drawing and an Inactives graphic (straight from the team). The remainder of their pregame Twitter content showed some photos from warm-ups, a couple warmup Vines, a shot of fans at the road game, and a sweet GOF of a Santa-clad fan visibly yelling (the Vikings chant) ‘Skol Vikings!’ The fans had to feel satiated by the time this game kicked off.

After the game began, the Vikings were informative first and foremost. And they were helpfully quick to the trigger to share video highlights (throughout the game) posted by the NFL. They did actually report Packers scores (some do not) and had a Field Goal graphic ready for their first points of the day. [They later showcased a field goal GIF, as well] The end of the first quarter featured a score graphic and they also tweeted out some stats, as opposed to retweeting a team reporter or PR account. It was clear they tried to ‘read the room’ and to take advantage of opportunities that were presented, seizing upon Thielen’s big day.

Thielen kept giving the Vikings fodder for content and the team took full advantage of it. When Thielen did a Lambeau Leap, the Vikings thoughtfully decided to post a scratch-reel GIF, allowing fans to scratch back and forth to see the leap again and again. They also had a GIF of Thielen prepared when he scored a 71-yard TD pass (and quickly shared the NFL’s highlight video). The Vikings also continued to use other prepared graphics, all embedded with a strong visual and purple hue (and they even had one for a “3 & Out;” good to have handy when the offense ain’t doing much). I also noticed they frequently tagged players’ Twitter handles in tweets about them, a nice touch for teams.

As the game started to look like an imminent loss for Minnesota, the Vikings kept the content coming when opportunity presented itself. They had a quick article on Thielen’s big first half and then busted out a handful of template (but personalized) graphics and photos to celebrate the big plays (mostly from the defense, in this one). Even as the game started to get away the Vikings shared GIFs and video highlights when there was something for fans to cheer about. The Adam Thielen wave was nice to ride, too.

After the game ended in a 38-25 loss for Minnesota, the Vikings shared a similar score graphic for the final (non-sponsored), retweeted the PR account (the only time they did this all day), and then took to Periscope for media availability for head coach Mike Zimmer and QB Sam Bradford. Good to see them do this, despite the loss and the road site. The recap content trickled out the rest of the day, with links to various recaps before their last activity of the night, a retweet of a Merry Christmas tweet from the day’s standout star – Adam Thielen. The Vikings did not cheat their fans on Twitter, providing coverage and quality content from pregame to postgame.
(NOTE: The Vikings have done a lot of work this season, and last, with Ian Padgham, who makes some incredible vines and animated short videos. There was not one produced for this week, however)

The Vikings by no means forgot about Facebook, where they kept fans feeds full during the pregame and sought to build up to the game, with different forms of content. Much of their content in the pregame was links to preview stories on the site, and even the sharing of their travel woes did just okay in terms of engagement. The post of the cartoon drawing was perfect for Facebook pregame content, as was the short hype video getting fans pumped for the game at the rival Packers.

The rest of the pregame window on Facebook featured a solid shot of a Vikings flag planted at Lambeau and a video of the team heading onto the field. Once the game began, content slowed down and there was no first quarter score update, but they did share the photo of Thielen doing the Lambeau Leap, bound to get good engagement. After a halftime score graphic, the Vikings later shared a link to video of Thielen’s 71-yard touchdown, followed by an end of third quarter and final score graphics. There were some sporadic hashtags peppered in the copy of some Facebook posts, including #Skol, #Vikings, and #MINvsGB.

After the game, the Vikings shared some postgame content, including links to a couple of articles, and a video recap. In one of those posts, they also tagged Gatorade, likely part of a sponsor obligation. Notable that Periscope is their platform of choice for live postgame content. They also quickly adjusted their Facebook cover photo (which had previously been one touting the Vikings-Packers matchup) to a photo of Adam Thielen. Between the postgame content was also a Happy Hanukkah graphic, acknowledging the first night of Hanukkah that night.

The Vikings didn’t have the best day on the field, or even on the team plane, on this game weekend in Green Bay. You can prepare to capitalize on success, but you also have to be prepared, ready, and willing to react and cut on a dime. It was a weekend that went far from hopes or expectations for the Vikings. But they made sure fans were there for all of it and made it worth their while.

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