Social Media Team Review: Atlanta Falcons Are The Fan With The Cool Content

The Atlanta Falcons may not be the first team that comes to mind when you think of the top NFL fan bases. And, after years of fading from the competitive spotlight, it was easy for them to become an afterthought among fans. But they have built and built this season, developing a team and fan base behind their #RiseUp mantra, supplemented by an attention-grabbing, inviting social media presence.

Success on the field doesn’t hurt further the goals, too, of course. But it’s about maximizing those winning hands.

A recent review of the Falcons game day content, in a home 38-32 win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 17 in the final game of the season (and a game that mattered for the Falcons to seal the #2 seed and a first round playoff bye), showed a good deal of preparation, with the goal being to share the excitement with fans, while presenting content and information in an appealing and engaging manner.

This played out prominently on all platforms, but the day began with a well-prepped Instagram Story that featured eye-catching animated graphics to get fans psyched for the game. Even taking the time to make these graphics more dynamic, instead of just sharing pretty static graphics shows the Falcons’ going the extra yards to incite in fans a feeling of excitement, a motif that spanned the platforms. They also utilized the ‘swipe up for more’ feature, linking to a ‘game trailer’ hosted on their website (linking to the website-hosted video caused the load time to lag just a bit), which doesn’t hurt for web traffic to share an extended hype video.

The Instagram Story did not end when the game kicked off, but the info-driven, prepped graphics gave way to selecting photos from the game feed. While the rest of the story lacked the panache and ‘wow’ of the pregame graphic content, it was notable that the Falcons took the time to keep feeding the feed, even with all the other platforms to serve during the game. The Falcons certainly don’t treat IG Stories as a Snapchat facsimile, reserving polished, planned content, for the most part, on this platform.

Meanwhile, on the main Instagram feed, the Falcons came prepared with some eye-catching imagery for the pregame window [that were re-purposed on other platforms, too) before giving way to a selectively curated in-game feed to highlight the big plays of the game through photos. They also did throw in a ‘Cheers to 2017’ image to note the game being played on New Year’s Day. No use of video in the Instagram feed was notable, but the visuals were strong and, as noted, supplemented what fans were seeing in the game. Copy was very short and hashtags were few, with the exception of using #RiseUp a few times. There was a sponsored final score graphic and a nice ‘thank you’ post, which echoed the ‘brotherhood’ sentiment pushed forth by head coach Dan Quinn in his post game speech.

The social network with the best opportunity to establish voice and feel, particularly in the live game window, is Twitter, and the Falcons were both prepared and reactive to drive home to fans a loud and energetic #RiseUp feel. The Falcons took full advatange of the late afternoon start and had a plethora of prepared content in the Saturday and AM Sunday pregame time period. They highlighted standout stats for MVP candidate QB Matt Ryan (offering up the #MattVP hashtag to fans) and spread out sharing video features and game videos for the matchup against the Saints [the game trailer was shared twice]. The video was a mix of natively uploaded content and outbound website links, and sponsor integration was subtle, but effective within the videos, as well as some prepared game matchup graphics. They also had some ‘farewell’ content prepared for the last regular season game at the Georgia Dome, which included a black-and-white video with audio voiceovers from memorable games over the years at teh stadium.
(This was almost certainly inspired by the Atlanta Braves’ farewell video content produced for their last game[s] at Turner Field this past season)

As the day went on, there was some pregame arrival content (with a website link for more photos), a little engagement with fans tweeting at the (nice touch), a nod to check out their Snapchat for videos from warmup, and promotion of a pregame Periscope with one o their reporters. They did also share some native videos to Twitter of the players taking the field and preparing, leaving the fans pumped and primed for the game to begin. Right before the game, too, they had a link to inform fans about the implications of the game for the Falcons’ playoff positioning (but required fans to click to see it).

Once the game began, the Falcons went to work and were ready and waiting with a lot of prepared GIFs and graphic content templates (and had a deep folder or easily editable templates). Not a lot of play-by-play, but plenty of content to augment the viewing experience for fans. Throughout the game, the Falcons made sure to share the NFL’s SnappyTV highlights and, for some updates, retweeted team reporters (including a Devonta Freeman stat and Vic Beasley injury update). When Freeman hit 1,000 yards, they also were ready and waiting with a 1,000 yards graphic. The first quarter ended with a sponsored score graphic, which matched the look of other Falcons content.

As the game went on, the Falcons’ consistency and preparation continued to play out. When touchdowns were scored or other ‘big’ plays made, they were impressively ready with in-your-face, personalized graphics, including the detail of having both QB and WR names for a Matt Ryan touchdown to Mohammed Sanu. They also had personalization to go beyond just a ‘Sack’ graphic, but including the names of the players (like Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett below). We also see a lot of the voice and enthusiasm come out with the copy (always help when you’re winning), sometime even tweeting out exclamations without context (assuming fans are watching along). They also managed to sneak in a promotional video for Mercedes-Benz Stadium (for which they’re selling PSL’s; slated to open this summer).

The Falcons kept up with their bank of prepared content and infusion of voice as the game went on, even stating a ‘sigh of relief’ with news about a player that re-entered the game after getting hurt. They also showed their versatility with some non-graphic GIFs, featuring players celebrating (did not appear to be from the game itself). The Falcons continued to provide scoring updates, too, keeping up with the Saints’ comeback. Throughout the game, too, the Falcons typically used their players’ Twitter handles (were applicable) in their tweets.

After the game, we got a very eye-catching final score graphic (sponsored and repurposed on other platforms), a shoutout to Matt Ryan’s big game, and then right to Periscope for Coach Quinn’s press conference. They later linked to their website for the full presser, but did have a native Twitter video of Coach Quinn’s post game locker room speech (yay for sacrificing the website traffic to make sure as many fans saw this emotion). The rest of the day closed out with outbound links to a handful of post game content, before ending the day with the official announcement of their home playoff game, and a link to purchase tickets. (Note that the Monday after, they came out with more post game content, such as a website link for game highlights). They did also retweet Coach Quinn after the game, but there were no player retweets (there were some Happy New Year player retweets prior to the game). The energy from the Falcons on Twitter was palpable from start to finish and they sought to stoke the fire of their fans through voice and through visual content throughout the game day.

The Falcons had considerably less volume, but appealed to energy emotion aplenty with their content on Facebook. They had a couple sponsored posts in the day preceding, but it was quality sponsored content, with one outbound link and another native video. The majority of content in the pregame window, in fact, was native. They had a Happy New Year graphic, a preview show, the tribute video to the Georgia Dome (referenced previously), and a game trailer video and footage from warm-ups. Also included were a couple of graphics – a Coca-Cola-sponsored matchup graphic [which also had coverage information] and a generic Rise Up / Game Time image with Snickers integrated.

After the game started, there was little content shared — a natively hosted and real-time photo gallery presented by a sponsor and then the sponsored halftime and final score graphics seen elsewhere. The final piece of content shared for the day was native video of Coach Quinn’s post game victory speech, which also included captions in the video; this small, but key addition can greatly enhance the fan experience (and metrics) with so much video views occurring without sound on. (Done by uploading a .srt file [SubRip] to your Facebook video — more info)
[NOTE: The Falcons also utilized Facebook Live for a Coach Quinn presser on the Monday after the game)

The Falcons did not have a huge volume of content, but delivered quality and timely content for fans on Snapchat. The team eschewed the stadium arrival shots and went into some shots from warm-ups from the sidelines with some good, up-close access fans can’t get enough of. no sign of a Snapchat geofilter at the Georgia Dome in this Snapchat story.

During the game, there was a couple sideline shots (permitted by the NFL) and a cool meeting with Falcons players and some former ‘legends’ in attendance inside the tunnel. Activity then picked up a lot after the win. They had a heavy dose of content after the win, including Matt Ryan and Drew Brees shaking hands on the field, and other glimpses of being on the field after the game. We then get two amped up players personally addressing fans on the camera, which is always excellent when it can be done. Those were the last snaps of the day.
(NOTE: Many other weeks, especially for away games, the Falcons do a nice ‘roll call’ to call or Snaps and then share some of the best via Memories. I like this engagement and have shared it before! It was not done for this game.)

The Falcons are conveying an energy and enthusiasm on game day, and they do it through content. The pulse is racing on game day and the Falcons team, with their fans behind them, are all looking to #RiseUp in unison. The Falcons do the little things, mind the details to contribute to that cause along the way.

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