It’s playoff season for hockey, and the NHL is having a huge social media push that is advertising it. Earlier today on twitter I saw multiple fill-out-your-bracket links from the NHL or teams that I follow within a 2 hour span. Playoff season is a perfect event to be boosting social media and web marketing, NHL teams have been ramping up their social media marketing all year, from live tweeted videos and pictures, to Q&A’s with players on non-game nights.
Even back in 2011 there was clearly more focus being put on social media efforts. A Huffington Post article details the job of Julie Dolak, manager of Digital and Social media for the Tampa Bay Lightning. “Being in a non-traditional hockey market requires us to work even harder to connect the sport of hockey with fans in the Tampa Bay-area, and social media helps bridge that gap,” she said. “We’re connecting fans and making the sport relevant in a market where hockey might not seem like a natural fit. Hockey fans are avid, passionate sports fans with a strong knowledge of the game itself.”
Social media does allow for fans to feel closer to their teams, as social media allows them to check in on their team whenever they have a free moment and a smartphone. This is exemplified through players having Q and A sessions through twitter. A great example of this is the Q and A with Marcel Goc in march, shortly after he was traded to the Pittsburg Penguins. He really gives an idea of how he felt coming to a new city, he answers questions about how he spends his summers, and his favorite German foods. It really allows for fans to get to know players more as a person instead of knowing them as just a sports figure.
This investment in social media marketing does not go unfounded though, as the rest of the NHL has followed in Tampa Bay’s footsteps. “ According to the 2013 Sports Media Consumption Report, by Sporting News Media, Kantar Media, and TV Sport markets, 63% of fans went online for sports content, up from 56% just two years ago,” (Huffington Post). Almost a 10% jump in 2 years which is incredible. Social media is a growing platform and is taken seriously by a number of famous and large organizations.
According to Dolak, Twitter is the most effective type of social media as it drives a constant conversation around the brand. Twitter allows for organizations to share cool pictures, promo codes, videos, and other content to their insider fans who follow the Twitter of their favorite team. Knowing the platform is important, but it’s crucial that content and reward for the social media interaction is satisfactory as well. Things such as give aways, contests during home games that allow fans to win prizes, and trivia on the giant mega-screen drive customer interaction through social media and mobile platforms.
A big story within the mobile and web platforms also came out in light of playoffs. NBC and the NHL are working to provide streaming to all fans by allowing for streams on a number of different platforms including web and mobile streaming of playoff games. Via NBC live extra and cable providers they are able to stream online and web through the many apps that these cable provider companies have. A deal with a video creation and editing app Magisto has been struck as well, and will allow for fans to document their experiences with playoff games and eventually the Stanley cup finals.
It is clear that the NHL has been an early adopter of social media marketing and continue to put it to use today as the number of users increase. What they do to engage the fans is allowing the fans to feel closer to their teams than they ever have before. It will be interesting to see whether the other major sports organizations make a bigger push on social media in the upcoming year. It will also be awesome to see where the NHL can continue taking social media marketing. I have a feeling that they will continue to experiment and break through on some of the ideas they have been putting to use through their effective social media marketing teams.