Digital and social media is taking a provident move towards giving fans a better experience in sports entertainment. Quite often, fans experience sports the best up-close and in person. However, they also like to sit on the couch more often than not and watch it on TV or online because it’s convenient and cheaper that way, right? Fans go online to watch highlights, stream games live, engage in online social activities and sometimes create their own content, which is an action that’s continuing to see prodigious growth. This is where NHL marketers need to come in and they need to come in HARD. This is where their research finds value and enables them to give fans exactly what they want. This is how they can start making fan’s experiences online as easy and seamless as possible.
The concept of content marketing strategies has been an increasingly popular one since the advent of social media marketing. New companies such as SocialToaster are tapping into rising opportunities that involve content creation because fans are demanding more and more dynamic content to feed their insatiable hunger for all things related to sports. So how can NHL marketers better equip themselves to supply the needs of these ever-demanding sports connoisseurs?
Integrating Social & Digital Into The Marketing Campaign
One of the most important things to keep in mind about social media is that it’s simply a channel of communication. There needs to be something to communicate before it can be communicated. It’s one thing to sit in a board room and pitch creative ideas to each other, but it’s an entirely different thing to actually go out and find out what fans really want in terms of compelling, viral content.
Last week I had the privilege of watching the final game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in St. Louis, Missouri at Three Sixty, one of the world’s top ten rooftop patios along with an account executive from the St. Louis Blues and owner of the Columbus Blue Jackets. This bar and lounge in particular is located 400 feet above downtown St. Louis, perched above the gorgeous Busch Stadium. The bartenders at this place are all male, incredibly skilled at pouring alcoholic beverages and VERY serious sports lovers. And so they should, they serve die-hard sports fans every single day. This diverse plethora of enthusiasts hosted the perfect environment for the best Gary Bettman conversation ever and here’s why.
If I were an NHL marketer, I would have recorded every single question posed by all parties. Capturing these insights and translating them into content would have proved very valuable for the NHL’s social presence. I was also able to identify the appropriate tone of voice to use in all web communications (this would have mattered if I were a writer of NHL of course). All parties were passionate, educated and well endowed in sports legislature – the perfect mixture to fuel an epochal debate.
There’s nothing wrong with having a great idea, but it needs to be validated. The scenario above was an organic one, not one where participants were paid to cast their opinions and vote on the most logical one. Feathers were ruffled and disagreements were made, naturally and it was awesome. Some argued that the lockout was a direct statement from Gary to fans saying he does not care about them, while others argued his business-savvy decisions were a result of increased annual revenues across the board, for players and franchises both. The debate continued in a direction that suggested Gary was not responsible for revenue increases but that’s a story for a different day.
Making The Conversation Flourish
NHL marketers need to find areas of interest for their NHL fans, capture the moment and publish it online. This is just one example about how to go about doing that. Can you suggest other organic ways to get people talking about sports? Hockey? Or any franchise for that matter? Posting questions on Facebook is not organic. Neither is a focus group. Perhaps these avenues could be a tipping point, but how do you suggest NHL marketers make these conversations flourish?