A few months back, the NFL and Twitter signed a two-year deal to extend the partnership they currently have to bring more exclusive content to fans, such as behind-the-scenes exclusives, instant replays, breaking news and video highlights, just to name a few.
The NFL network is a leader in social television. There isn’t another player in the game that reaches as many fans on the medium they want, exactly when they want. The NFL has mastered the art of creating organic conversations among its audience due in part to the real-time, exclusive content they share with their loyal followers that keeps them engaged.
In an attempt to gain followers and further its social reach, the NFL began its relationship with Twitter in 2013 when they joined the social network’s Amplify Program – a program that allows brands to share near-live events on Twitter. According to an Adweek article, during the NFL’s first year in the program McDonald’s, Verizon and Microsoft paid seven figures each to sponsor the NFL’s Amplify videos and to promote the tweets.
When the NFL first partnered with Twitter it had about 5 million followers. Today, it has close to 14 million followers, which proves its partnership with the social network has been successful, and shows that the football organization’s greater vision to connect fans at home to what’s happening behind the scenes in real-time is resonating with fans — at home and on the go.
But an image alone is not enough to keep fans’ focus, and the NFL understands that a video is a great way to grab and keep the attention of viewers. Whether it’s a game-time headline, breaking news or a call-to-action, the combination of an impactful image and the right message is a critical formula for effective marketing.
Video helps people remember more of a message. According to Mobile Marketer Daily, when you use both visuals and audio, people will remember about 70 percent of your message, a dramatic improvement over the 10 percent with just text and the 30 percent with text accompanied by an image. Luckily for the NFL, its presence alone is enough to grab Twitter users attention. The NFL has successfully built true value into the content they share with fans by sharing in-the-moment video clips.
The NFL certainly has a broad reach on social media; as seen during a preseason game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL fans clutched their cell phones as a seemingly game-altering event took place. During their preseason game, the Packers played the Steelers at 11 a.m., when wide receiver Jordy Nelson tore his ACL. Clearly, this was traumatizing to anyone who had plans on drafting Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson – the potential duo to bring home the money for fantasy season. Fans took to social media to discuss thoughts about Nelson’s injury and what it would mean for the Green Bay Packers’ offense. With 1,800 tweets per hour relating to Nelson, by 5 p.m. there were 58,000 mentions of Nelson on Twitter: one of the many instances demonstrating how fans continue to use social media for discussing the NFL.
I’ve always been impressed by the NFL’s social strategy and how seamlessly they’ve managed to integrate mobile and television in a way that entices football fans to participate. Not only does the NFL create authentic messaging on, but it also discusses content from various NFL teams every day through retweeting and reposting. This demonstrates how the NFL stays active within the social community it has formed.
First & Goal: Twitter takeovers
The NFL also uses its players to further promote its “fan”tastic social media strategy. The NFL is tapping its social media-savvy players to draw in millions of followers and offer entertaining content in line with the national football league’s image. Athletes have tremendous influence and reach that can transform the way consumers think about the NFL. Partnering with the athletes on this initiative is a powerful way to increase fan equity.
Instagram and Twitter takeovers have become a go-to strategy for brands that have millennials as their target market, and of course the NFL teams have already implemented this tactic. Having players “take over” Twitter accounts simply means they are going to be tweeting from that twitter handle for a certain amount of time. This allows fans to tweet at a player, and most likely they will receive a response. Football players actively tweet in-the-moment videos, reply to fan questions and often times give fans a glimpse of their personalities.
Second & Goal: Fantasy Football
The NFL has transformed an idea into a cultural phenomenon with fantasy football. As it enters the 20th season, Fantasy Football has become a social norm for fans of all ages. A Forbes article from last year reported there are 33 million people playing fantasy football each year. The Verge pointed out that’s more people than the populations of Kansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and Washington, DC combined.
Fantasy football is a social experience, and since the world has gone mobile, you better believe that the NFL has a fantasy football app that provides the ultimate fantasy football experience by offering expert advice and allowing fans to track their players and teams in real time. The NFL tweeted the commercial it came out with to kick off the fantasy football season. Check out the video below.
Third & Goal
The NFL has enhanced the social TV-viewing experience by integrating mobile and facilitating conversations that make the fans feel like they are part of the decision-making process. Whether it be a controversial issue or just a poll about which player is the best, fans appreciate having a voice and this builds and deepens the social connection between the NFL teams and their fans. For this upcoming weekend, be sure to check out the NFL’s twitter account on game day to experience the league-leader in social media.