New York Jets 
Sponsored Gameday 
Social Media Review

The New York Jets had their 2018 NFL home opener, in a game they would end up losing to the Miami Dolphins, to go to 1-1 on the season. They had a good amount of quality sponsored content on social.

What follows is a curation of their gameday / game week content. Some if it was posted across channels (FB, Tw, IG, no Snapchat sponsorship but good content there) and some was exclusive to the platform. Good stuff, Jets!

5 Ways the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights Have Made the Most of their Historically Successful Inaugural Season

It’s a well-known fact that we can’t control wins and losses. Despite the entreaties of so many fans on social media, the staff behind the accounts and digital content can’t do much about the record.

But every once in a while, or if you’re in Golden State, Pittsburgh, New England, or New York just about every year, you get dealt a winning hand. The question is – are you prepared to maximize the winnings, to take home the biggest pot possible.

This was the scenario facing the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights as their hot start to their inaugural season just kept going and hasn’t stopped all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Their story would’ve created pub and love, regardless, but the team has turned those pocket aces into something more, seizing their opportunity to amass winnings that can last for years and generations to come.

How did they do it? There are plenty of articles to read, there will be case studies to come, but here are five ways the VGK have played their hand wonderfully in 2017-18.

 

They embraced their newness

From day 0, the Golden Knights milked all the amusement and content they could out of being a team that was being created before our eyes, with no brand or legacy to speak, a true blank slate on the ice and on social media. From poking fun at having no roster (projected lines: guy-guy-Reid Duke [their first player], guy-guy, etc. etc.; Reid Duke playing pregame soccer with no companions to pass to) to celebrating one first after another to trying to wrap their heads and fans’ heads around what they’ve done all season long – the Golden Knights became the unlikely team that was easy to love and to root for. They’ve been playing with house money all season (you better believe that pun’s intended!) and have used such leeway to create an underdog, approachable, witty voice that has endeared them to fans.

They made their games into a show

By now, it’s likely you’ve seen, heard about, or read of the incredible pregame festivities before Vegas Golden Knights home games. It has been called a cross between Medieval Times, Hollywood, Disneyland, and Cirque du Soleil all mixed into one and it has created pregame theater that further adds to the excitement around the team and the hot ticket that is their packed home games at T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights are the first major pro sports team to call the entertainment capital of the country home and they fit right in on The Strip with their spectacular pregame shows. Adults and kids will come away from these games with such bewilderment stamped into their minds and memories.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Vegas sure knows how to put on a show! ūü§© <a href=”https://t.co/v2uGfgJ7r8″>pic.twitter.com/v2uGfgJ7r8</a></p>&mdash; NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) <a href=”https://twitter.com/NHLonNBCSports/status/1001258101826342912?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>May 29, 2018</a></blockquote>
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And they’ve made sure the whole country knows about it, too, especially as their Cup run necessarily created a national storyline. Stick taps to the Golden Knights’ PR team for getting write-ups praising their pregame show in publications like ESPN,¬†the New York Times, and¬†NHL.com, among others, not to mention tons of videos and mentions across social media. Textbook work to amplify what the team is doing.

They became part of Vegas

It has quickly become lear – from the packed arena to the justas packed practices – that the city of Las Vegas has more than embraced its hometown team. The club has helped foster this fan fervor and has continued to throw gas on the fire by integrating themselves into the city. Following the tragic shooting right at the start of their season, the team became a beacon in the community, making visits to hospitals, schools, and emergency workers. Their winning only enhanced the emotional investment from fans, giving them something to cheer about amidst the mourning. From day one, the team made sure to promote the importance of being #VegasBorn and it’s pretty cool to look around the city and see the Golden Knights everywhere – from New York New York’s Statue of Liberty to Julius Caesar at Caesar’s Palace, and much more, the team is part of the fabric emotionally and physically with the city. The team’s home, T-Mobile Arena, is owned and operated by MGM Resorts, and the hockey club has made good use of this relationship, engaging those friends of the family to help support the team. The team has also made inroads with celebrities in the area, too, from hometown boy Bryce Harper to rapper Lil Jon, who gave a free concert outside the arena prior to game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

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They engaged fans in Vegas and all over the world

The Golden Knights have had an instinct for embracing their fans and creating opportunities to engage them further. As fans began popping up not just in Vegas, but all over the world, the team did something about it – and the #VGKWorldwide movement was born. It’s not just a hashtag, though, it’s a mindset – that social media is meant to be social and the best way to build a brand is having fans tell the story for you. Whether it’s soliciting photos of fans all around the world or inviting two-way conversation and user-generated content, the Golden Knights have made fan engagement a active strategy, and not just paying lip service to an engagement rate backed by three second video views. Just look at the responses to this tweet, asking for fans to provide pics to prove they saw this Cup run coming.

They have helped fans fall in love with their players

Think about the signs of a super fan. They probably wear their teams gear a few times a week, they always know when the next game is, and they probably talk about players not using the names on the back of their jerseys, but their nicknames. Nicknames are a lost art in hockey, but every NHL player uses them all the time in practice and in the games, and helping pass on this vernacular to the fans, marrying them, really, can be so key to creating fan connections. So now fans know all about Wild Bill, Flower, Real Deal James Neal, Marchy, and the rest of the fellas.

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Moreover, they have turned their practices into opportunities to further engage their fans and help them build relationships with players? How, as simple as facilitating autographs. A lot of practices in the NHL are closed to public, even more don’t have any organized autograph sessions, it’s typically more so fans hanging out in the player parking lot hoping to get lucky. While the Golden Knights made some waves with restricting autographs at practices to ‘kids-only,’ just turning their practices into true fan events, and not team events that fans are allowed to observe, they gave fans more opportunities and reasons to connect with the club.
[Related note: They have also done a good job with player-driven content and social media takeovers, even into the playoffs, and have done Facebook Live pregame shows just about every night]

 

One of the most important lessons in social media and sports, and sports business in general, is to have a plan to make the most of the good content and the good times. Because just about seat the table will eventually get dealt a winning hand. The question is – will you know what to do with it?

 

Related: Listen to the Vegas Golden Knights’s former Senior Writer and Twitter voice Dan Marazza talk about the team’s early approach to voice, engagement, and content.

How Stories Are Getting More Creative In Social Media and Sports

Instagram Stories were first introduced about a year and a half ago, and the way sports teams, leagues, and media entities have utilized them have evolved quite a bit over the months. Many started out by taking their Snapchat content and replicating it onto IG Stories — ‘Now that raw content people love so much on Snapchat can be exposed to a wider audience.’

But things started to change. They could do better, they could do more. They could take advantage of some of the different features of the platform and the different mindset with which most fans use it and consume content on IG Stories.

As the number of Snapchat users has started to stagnate, it seems (at least anecdotally) that there is greater thought, attention, and effort being put into creatively using Instagram Stories, to earn the coveted taps and eyeballs and time spent that so many fans worldwide give to IG and IG Stories. It’s really a progressive transformation of the ‘stories’ framework, in general. It’s snippets of larger content pieces, active engagement with users, stories¬† that fans can’t help but complete, listicles that can be consumed more easily in a mobile app than on the web, and allowing fans to consume substantive content at the pace they want in the snackable form they want. Here are ten uses of Instagram Stories (mostly) that have stood out recently:

SportsCenter gives us an interactive, bite-sized version of its ESPN The Magazine Story

 

The visually appealing graphic and invitation to continue is immediately stimulating. Then, we get the chance to ‘answer,’ the story come to life and driving engagement, not just consumption. The Swipe Up CTA at the end puts a cap on a great, shrunken down snippet of the story that invites drives fans to want to continue on with the quiz. This ‘trivia’ idea can certainly be utilized by teams and others in sports. The pull, of course, is creating a need to continue/want more.

The SportsCenter social media channels continually deliver quality content and studiously execute on each platform in a relevant and effective manner. Recommended follow across the board.

 

BarDown (by TSN) gets visual with polls

Twitter polls have become a routine part of Twitter now, but many have lamented that one couldn’t include videos/images/GIFs with them. We know visual content typically performs/engages better and yet the most interactive of tweets – polls can’t include more media (though that is changing now). Well, when Instagram Stories introduced polls, it allowed for an even better marriage of visual polls, and TSN’s BarDown took advantage of that on an NFL Sunday. It’s simple engagement, offers an immediate payoff for the fan, and is an easy way to present the storylines of the day. BarDown is sneaky good at engaging their fans north of the border. Check ’em out on Twitter, especially.

 

Sacramento Kings give us game content in visuals and taps

Even as the way fans consume content changes, the stories and the substance have some semblance of consistency over the years. They’re just more snack-sized, interactive, and visual. But look at this example from the Sacramento Kings (who simply dominate Instagram engagement), which gives you a little interaction, a quote, and a team stat leader. It’s all inherent to the platform and allows a fan to engage with the brand and be caught up in a matter of seconds. Even better, there is a consistency of look and feel that, if one is tapping rapidly through stories, instantly stands out as your team from Sacramento.

 

The Orlando Magic Produce Informative Graphics and Features that Integrate Sponsors

If you want to see sponsored content in action on Instagram Stories (in a good way), follow the Orlando Magic. Whether it’s the Kia Keys to the Game or, as shown here, the Fan Duel Stat Stories, the Magic deliver content that has value for fans, while effectively integrating a partner. This is the type of informative content that has been produced for years by teams — game previews, stats leaders, et al. — and Instagram Stories presents a unique way to deliver it to fans. Adjusting the presentation to tie to a sponsor keeps the value in the content for fans, while exposing the partner to fans. The Magic are great with their social media and corporate partner activation on all platforms, and they’re one of the few who have consistently excelled on Instagram Stories.

 

The Oakland Raiders Make Fans Laugh and Want More With a Single Photograph

I am a professed Raiders fan, but there is no bias needed to recognize the awesomeness in this example. The Raiders really do a tremendous job on Snapchat, as well, and whie Snapchat focuses on the raw content fans have come to expect, Instagram is a visual narrative that brings to life each game and each day. They took a single photo, taken as the Raiders celebrated a touchdown, and injected it with a mini story that puts into an Instagram Story what may be an exchange between friends. They circle various fans in the photo and add a funny caption referencing how they’re reacting (bonus points for the ‘For the Gram’ reference). It’s lighthearted, it makes you laugh, it makes you want to keep clicking for more, and it has you spend more time with the brand, while feeling those positive feelings. How can you make fans stop and spend time with you on the platform? The ‘engagement’ we all seek is even stronger when it comes with a smile on the fan’s face.

 

MLS turns a visual list into a fun countdown on Instagram Stories

Major League Soccer does a great job creating content for the league’s platforms and they, made the most of the days after Toronto FC clinched the club’s 2017 MLS Cup. What would typically be a photo gallery, featuring the rings for the last several MLS champs, becomes a fun, in-your-face (in a good way), illustrated countdown of MLS Cup title rings for the last 20 years. Countdowns and lists are ubiquitous in sports, and Instagram Stories offers a different way to present this content to fans. Going with artistic illustrations over straight photos seems like a no-brainer in hindsight, but was certainly the right call for what fans come to expect on Instagram Stories.

 

 

The Chicago Bulls Suck Us Into a Where’s Waldo Type Game on their Snapchat Story

Ok, so this is an entry from Snapchat, but is really just an excellent use of the ‘Stories’ method of presenting content on social media. The Bulls have continually pushed the envelope on Snapchat, treating their presence there as an entertainment channel, as opposed to strictly a team correspondent. Here, they take a tried and true concept (Where’s Waldo, any Millennial knows it!) and plug in their mascot Benny, and then fans (like me) spend a ton of time carefully scanning the snaps to come, trying to find Benny. It forces me to not just tap rapidly through the Story (from the game), but stop and spend time on each one. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and, at the end, offers a chance to win tickets for finding all four Benny’s — and helps the Bulls get some fan info from Snapchat and test the platform as a lead generation tool. Great work, overall here, and use of Stories.

 

The New York Jets Give Fans a Quick and Fun Glimpse of Player Personalities With their Snapchat ‘Question of the Day’

Snapchat has often fancied themselves as more like TV than anything else when it comes to its non-messaging content. In addition to exchanging messages with friends, fans come to kill time and be entertained. This ‘Question of the Day’ feature is a great, consistent content piece that wouldn’t be out of place as a kicker on a pregame or halftime show, or on a video board during a media timeout at the game. The first-person nature of the platform, along with the ‘fun’ questions the team knows work well on Snapchat, where fans wouldn’t appreciate the football-infused cliches, endears the players to the fans so well – always a good recipe for content. The consistency of it also presents a sponsorship opportunity, as well. This would certainly work on Instagram, too.

 

McDonald’s creates a Coke flip book for users to tap through

So this last one is outside the sports world, but McDonald’s showed some great creativity here that I’m surprised those in sports have not used much on Instagram Stories (and, hey, Mickey D’s is still a pretty active corporate partner and advertiser in sports). They took what would normally be dismissed as an ad and invited fans to tap-tap-tap to create an animation-like effect. I’m also normally not a fan of super-long Instagram Stories with so many notches, it’s scary, but, again, this was all in the hands of the fan to tap as quickly as possible to crack the ice. It’s fun, it feels interactive, and it has fans also starting at the $1 for any size drink messaging/promotion. It’s a simple concept and use of the Instagram Stories UX, and it’ll be cool how others continue to get creative on the platform.

 

Stories have always ruled the day, but after it took centuries and decades to go from books to radio broadcasts/shows to moving pictures with captions, to talkies (yep!) TV shows. And then the last 20 years or so as digital gives us a new way to share and produce and consume content seemingly every day.¬† And with a fan base that’s more fragmented across channels and platforms than ever, the temptation may be to reshare the content you’re already creating to show these new eyeballs what they’re missing.

But the best treat the platform or the feature like a subject to study — all the ways it can be used, why fans use it, how they use it, how others use it well and not so well, and how to best measure success and engagement on it. As many say, good content remains good content — make fans laugh, teach them, give them access, convey personality, be interactive and engaging, be visually stunning – features like Stories just open a new palette to paint the canvas. Focus on making fans smile and making them care, respect the platform, and you’ll be on the right track in your story.

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.

Check out more Team Reviews

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.

Social Media Team Review: Chiefs Celebrate The Big Plays With Their Fans

The Kansas City Chiefs are one of the better teams in football, often flying under the radar in playoff contention. But their fans are as fervent as any in the NFL and the Chiefs social team seeks to deliver all the fuel they can to fan the flames of their fans. A recent review of their game day content, on a frigid  Sunday afternoon narrow with tough-to-swallow loss at home to the Tennessee Titans, showed a team ready and waiting for the moments, and then delivering, while also listening.

The Chiefs had their most creativity and engagement shine through on their Twitter feed. The Chiefs made the most of the times when fans were cheering, serving a complement of GIFs and video, primarily. The pregame window saw mostly game preview content, posting the inactives, and some good content around the very cold weather. Also notable was their pregame listening – replying to and retweeting fans excited for the game.

The Chiefs had reason to celebrate shortly after kickoff when Tyreek Hill scored a long touchdown. The Chiefs made the most of the big early play, posting a nice animated touchdown GIF, followed by a sponsored drive summary (the only instance of this, not other scores), and continued to monitor their feed for opportunities to selectively engage. They also threw out a quick GIF of him celebrating (in real-time, permitted by new NFL policy), followed by a tweet of the NFL’s SnappyTV cut of the play. They were prepared with personalized player GIFs, used a few times to celebrate big plays. There was not much play-by-play, more so punctuating noteworthy plays for the team during the game.

The Chiefs had an end of quarter and halftime graphic, that was a nice visual, with no sponsor integration. They continued to make use of real-time and prepared GIFs and were quick to share highlights via the NFL. The Chiefs activated a sponsor deal during the game, a McDonald’s ‘Big Mac for Sacks’ deal, and had a prepared GIF to showcase that (that did not include the McDonald’s logo).

The Chiefs had some halftime content for fans – including a link to a photo gallery and a short text halftime recap. The early 2nd half was similar to the first – with GIFs and video highlights comprising the majority of the content. They also supported an activation (?) with AwesomenessTV and a celebrity takeover, while the attending the Chiefs game.

The feeling was that the Chiefs would win this game, but things started getting pretty hairy later in the second half and the volume of content (and reasons to tweet) slowed a bit. (They did retweet their cheerleaders account, celebrating a Pro Bowl nod). During the nail-biting, they saved their time for the positive Chiefs plays [including a retweet of actor Don Cheadle] and let retweets of their website reporter be the bearer of bad news. The decisive plays of the game at the end were delivered in this manner, followed by a final score graphic and an immediate post with a Periscope stream started up, standing by with a graphic card, waiting for the start.

The remainder of the postgame window on Twitter was a couple of nuggets of postgame quotes (via retweets of a team reporter) and a Periscope link to Alex Smith’s and Andy Reid’s pressers. They later posted a link to a game recap and had video of Reid’s solo postgame interview with the team reporter. There were also posts with game photos and, later on, a couple of player retweets. They finished off the game day Sunday with a very late night tweet promoting the McDonald’s deal activated during the game, using a photo of the sack that activated it. Even later in the night, it appears there was a little snafu as tweet went out with a GIF promoting tune-in for the already completed Sunday game.
Overall, a strong Twitter presence for the Chiefs with worthwhile, real-time and content and an active presence that pays attention enough to conversation to uncover opportunities here and there to amplify.

For the Chiefs, Twitter was their primary in-game platform, followed by Instagram, which they kept active during the game, particularly Instagram Stories. Instead of peppering their Instagram main feed with game day content (though there was some), the Chiefs used the Stories feature to showcase photos of fans leading up to the game. Once teh game began, there was a consistent flow of game action photos, likely pulled from Getty or an in-house team photographer.

The all-photo content, mostly from game action, but some fan, remained for the rest of the game, with some of the ‘best’ also getting posted to the main Instagram feed. The curation was solid and a good effort to use the feature throughout game day. While it lacked the wow factor of some others and the pre-loaded graphics or videos, it was a nice narrative trip through the game.

Meanwhile, on primary Instagram, the Chiefs began with some game day hype content, including a couple of videos to get fans pumped for the game. The content began the day before, with videos and a GAMEDAY graphic with just a player shot (i.e. not a tune-in or match-up graphic). The remainder included warm-ups (which included a nice posed shot, it appears) and in-game, narrative action shots, as well as a halftime score graphic; though no final score graphic. The content was eye-catching and well-selected, and Instagram is a platform the Chiefs make sure to serve on game day Sunday.

The Chiefs Snapchat, primarily to build up to the game, but had a nice mix of content and just enough up-close access to satiate fans. They, like many teams, set the scene with a morning stadium shot and, of course, utilized the temperature filter to hammer home how cold it really was! Not to be lost, as well, is the way they stylize their text, with red on yellow and yellow on red. They also had some up-close shots of some star players in warm-ups and even had the ability to get up close and next to the pregame coin toss, which was a nice touch.

Once the game began, the volume slowed down considerably, but they did take advantage of the NFL permitting a little in-game content with a live shot of a field goal. They also didn’t rest during halftime, capturing some of the promotions, including a plinko game, as well as a score update using the filter. There was no Snapchat content during the 2nd half and the rest o the day was a nice ‘Football is Family’ post game prayer shot and a final score to conclude the story.

One small note on Snapchat is the Chiefs have a couple of my favorite home stadium geofilters, but they opted not to use them (or have active?) or this past Sunday’s game. Take a look below, from a prior week.

The Chiefs did a lot in the pregame window on Facebook, building up the moments and narrative leading up to the game and giving fans plenty of preview content. There was some similar content, which included the sponsors also featured prominently on Twitter (with sponsors on the visual and tagged in the post), as well as a link to a preview article and a timely post about the stadium battling the frigid temperatures. The content was almost all visual (with some links), but there was also a quote snippet from a post tagging a local media network.

The Chiefs delivered probably their best Facebook content with their final two pregame posts, including a unique tune-in video, in an artistic drawing style, as well as a pregame video with content filmed just minutes before. While the video was not as produced as some hype videos, the quick turnaround and quality shots was certainly notable. Once the game began, there was not much content, with a halftime score graphic, a link to an early Tyreek Hill touchdown highlight, and then a sponsored final score graphic. Later in the day, the Chiefs posted a sponsored (Microsoft), natively uploaded video of Coach Andy Reid’s postgame one-on-one interview with the team reporter.

The Chiefs arrive on game day with content at the ready and with a specific eye to each platform, whether distinct, timely, unique, or for selective re-purposing. There is no platform forgotten each tries to deliver with big hits and a less is more mindset, rolling with the flow and the narrative of the day.

On a cold day that ended in a heartbreaking loss, the Chiefs kept their fans cheering at the right times and delivered the more somber news with a light touch. #ChiefsKingdom is in good hands.

Social Media Team Review: The Panthers Keep The Energy Up (They Keep Pounding)

The Carolina Panthers rode their team hashtag, #KeepPounding, all the way to the Super Bowl last year and, in doing so, took home the ‘title’ of the #1 sports team hashtag in 2016. So, yeah, they have a brand and a rally cry that their fans know well.

But it’s more than just a hashtag, as a review of their game day social media content revealed. It’s a motif that runs throughout their social media, as their content and voice bring a unique energy, a personification of the ‘Keep Pounding’ mantra.

The Panthers’ content on Twitter exuded this energy and enthusiasm throughout the day, and their content (granted during a fairly comfortable win over San Diego, at home in Charlotte) reinforced this all day long. Their pregame was comprised of much of the preview content to which many are accustomed – with articles and inactives (posted by the team itself within the text of a tweet, thank you!), but the images and videos still gave off that energy. And the hashtag was ubiquitous. It wasn’t their content, either, but retweets of Fox Sports PROCast (most teams retweet this) and the customary Bud Light and pizza sponsor tweets. They also shared a touching pregame moment with TE Greg Olsen and a little kid (this was featured on every platform).

Once the game began, the Panthers began sharing out an impressive array of consistent and, well, *pounding* GIFs. Some of these were customized for the specific play, others incorporated specific players, and each had a consistent look and feel that got the pulse racing. They also stayed aware and listening, as website writers/reporters were retweeted for observations and certain game notes, and responded to a local celebrity tweeting about the team. Between the GIFs and the hashtags was also a smattering of play-by-play; not excessive, but enough to fill in most of the blanks for fans.

One thing the Panthers did tremendously well was their use of real-time GIFs. The NFL recently relaxed their much-panned, much-argued policy on sharing any ‘moving pictures’ from the in-game window by allowing content of fans, sidelines, and celebrations, among other little stuff. And the Panthers were all over this, getting some great GIFs in near real-time showcasing player personalities and celebrations [and Cam giving a TD ball to a fan). They shared score update graphics at the end of each quarter (non-sponsored) and consistently used players’ official Twitter handles throughout the game. Scoring drives were capped by drive summary graphics, too, which were sponsored by State Farm. Also notable is they have a @PanthersPromos Twitter handle to make fans aware of, well, promotions, and impressively has over 16,000 followers. The main account will often RT this account, too.

As the game continued, the Panthers continued their similar GIFs to celebrate plays and, a mini round of applause, even had a GIF at the ready for their team recording a safety. Prepared for anything! While they were dominating the game, the Panthers did update their fans when the opponent did score, even giving the actual scoring play description. As you can see, they also got more, well, playful, as the game went on. The energy stayed high and GIFs including Zoolander, Super Mario, and The Office were utilized during the second half.

The fun continued with fan and player GIFs as the game ended (including a nod to ‘Santa’). They shared a non-sponsored post game graphic to celebrate their win, which, curiously displayed neither the final score nor the opponent. Then, right on the field, got a couple of players to personally address fans on video (which was posted across all platforms) and one of the players even told fans to ‘Keep Pounding.’ (I’ll wait while all team social media managers swoon). This was followed by a few graphics, including one sober way home option, a sack counter graphic (their defensive plays and ‘sacks’ are sponsored by local company Sakrete, love it!), and a graphic accompanying a link to a game recap.

There was live video coverage after the game, as well, though it was hosted on the team website, as opposed to Periscope and/or Facebook Live. There was only the single link to Cam Newton’s presser and no quotes tweeted from the conference. They likely knew the pic of Cam at the podium (in his latest outfit) would go viral. This was followed by some sponsored content, including a Bud Light Top Performer graphic, an activated offer from Krispy Kreme, and a ‘Drive of the Game’ image + link to video, sponsored by Ford.The remainder of the day featured links to the coach and Cam press conferences, full game highlights, and, the last tweet of the night (of course), a simple #KeepPounding.It was a fun ride on Twitter with the Panthers.

While Twitter is indeed where a voice is most defined when it comes to social media, the theme and the emotion is built up with the narrative offered on the Panthers’ Snapchat. The early pregame content showcased the stadium and some sweet filters, along with some early player warmups. No player arrivals one-after-one in their civvies. They also captured Greg Olsen interacting with¬† a military family (which was repurposed across platforms). It was a quick look around, including calling out some specific players, by name.

The Panthers also gave us a little of that inside access fans crave, with a brief glance¬† inside the tunnel with the players ready to take the field for introductions. It was notable that, while clearly there was someone filming the pregame huddle (likely where a player was pumping up the team), the person behind the Snapchat was only shooting from a distance. Overallth, the player-focused pregame window was a valuable, snackable sampling of the atmosphere and they even got some players to pose together, making eye contact with the fans following along. But it wasn’t done there.

The Panthers’ Snapchat was like a virtual ticket to the pregame rituals and atmosphere, delivered one snap at a time, helping to build the excitement for the game and convey the emotion. There was a look at the crowd, the intros, the flyover, and the traditional Keep Pounding practice, led by well-known NASCAR crew chief Chad Knaus. And the content didn’t stop once the game started. There was constant presence on the sideline capturing¬† post game celebrations on the field and on the sideline.

The Panthers continued with shots of the game and of the crowd and sideline, all the way up to the win and a couple of Snaps of a  post game prayer with members of both teams and the traditional jersey swap between players. This was the last of Snapchat content for the day, but overall, a source they feed throughout the game and game day, doing their best to bring the stuff to fans that watching on TV cannot.

The Panthers also put some time into their Instagram presence, using both regular posting and stories. Much of the content is re-purposed, sometimes filtered, pics and graphics and video from elsewhere, but the result is a nice peppering of content, seeking to convey emotion. There wasn’t a ton from warmups (this was more so on Twitter and Snapchat and in their IG Story), but did include a couple of photos of Olsen’s meeting with the military family (tearjerking). It was good to see some use of video a bit on their Instagram page, as well. During the game itself was mostly some eye-catching game photos from the game and notably no score updates or graphics.

The Instagram feed did stay active during the game with more pics, the general Panthers Win graphic and the on-field videos seen elsewhere made up the initial post game content. This was followed with up a branded content post (also posted elsewhere) and the Krispy Kreme activation. They finished the day posting a pic of Luke Kuechly, currently in concussion protocol, on the sideline during the game talking to players. Something they knew fans would like to see, but likely done with the security it was okay with team ops and PR.

As compared to their regular Instagram posts, the Panthers used Instagram Stories for more quick updates, as well as some of the second screen in-game content seen on their Snapchat. There was some in-the-tunnel content for pregame before giving way to an easy way to get a good look at the game and brief updates. They utilized score update graphics for each quarter, similar to what they did on Twitter (but not Facebook). They also shared a pic of a fan getting a TD ball (also repurposed on other platforms) with the Panthers Snapchat geofilter (or a facsimile, at least) at the bottom.

The Panthers continued to share sweet sideline content and score updates on their IG Story for the rest of the game and their graphic overlays on photos were done very well. The post game end of the Story included a final score post and a player interacting with a fan. Solid use of the platform.