How Well Are NFL Teams Engaging On Social Media?

It is very rare that I place myself in front of my computer on Sundays in the fall.  I dedicate Sundays to watch the National Football League (NFL).  I lock myself away in my man-cave for 12 straight hours just to give my thumbs the ultimate workout by surfing amongst 3 to 4 games at one time.   It comforts me to know that I am not alone.  Millions of fans in North America consume the NFL product whether it be watching games or buying a ticket in which it has led the league in generating over $9 billion per year.

Factoring in the use of social media in the marketing mix of the 32 franchises and their brands, the league find itself in a rare position.  The position of having the opportunities to engage via social networks with their audiences as they are consuming a product (i.e. a game on a Sunday or Monday for a 3 hour time period.)

To see if and how some of the league’s brands (teams) are engaging with their fans, I decided to track two organizations this past Sunday: I) Green Bay Packers (defending champions and community owned and non-profit team) and II) Dallas Cowboys (with  the long time, “America’s Team”) and on Twitter and Facebook during their respective games on September 18th, 2011.

Green Bay Packers vs Carolina Panthers  (1pm Eastern)

On Twitter

Figure 1 is a screenshot illustrating the tweets that were sent out via @packers during the game.

Figure 1: Green Bay Packers' Tweets During Game Vs Carolina Pathers













With no signs of engagement during the three hour period, the team has selected to use its microblogging presence to push information its 113,033 followers (as of September 19th, 2011).  In fact, the organization uses Twitter as a news ticker service to update followers on in-game developments.

On Facebook

The  level of  engagement on the Green Bay Packers Facebook Page is quite different from its Twitter page.  Due its capacity to facilitate engagement amongst fans, the team had hundreds of individuals posting comments during the game.  Figure 2 presents a survey that was posted at halftime when the score was 13 – 7 for the Panthers.  On this occasion, the Packers selected to engage it audience by simply asking what the team had to do to get back in the game to win.

Figure 2: Facebook Survey Conducted By Packers At Halftime











Fortunately, the Packers came back and won, 30 – 23.

Dallas Cowboys  vs San Francisco 49ers (4pm Eastern)

On Twitter

In a game where  the Cowboys trailed for most of the 60 minute battle and were victorious in the end, there was very little engagement on the Twitter feed (@dallascowboys) (with 143,191 fans of September 19th, 2011) during the game as seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Dallas Cowboys' Twitter Feed During Game vs San Francisco 49ers













One day after the comeback win, the level of engagement with fans increased as illustrated in Figure 4 by the number of replies from @dallascowboys.

Figure 4: Increased Level Of Engagement On @dallascowboys













On Facebook

Similar to the Packers, the Cowboys chose to not engage with their fans on their Facebook Page however; they allow the platform to be a sounding board for fans as seen in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Dallas Cowboys' Facebook Page Minutes After Win Over 49ers












One would think that the two strongest brands in the NFL would take advantage of engaging with their millions of fans at best time possible, while the teams are on the field and as fans are watching.  Are these brands just adhering to the league’s Twitter policy or do they think that the product on the  field is engaging enough to the point that it markets itself?

PS.  Don’t worry hockey fans, I’ll be doing the same exercise on October 6th, 2011 opening night when I’ll be tracking the social media presence’s of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens as the two huge brands in the National  Hockey League face in the season opener.

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