Over the last ten years, social media has become a cultural phenomenon of which nobody could have ever predicted. Twitter alone reports around 450 million active users per month with that number estimated to grow by at least another 200 million by 2028. The concept of Twitter was originally like a mini-blog.
A space for people to speak their thoughts and experiences in a limited number of characters. Whilst at its hear twitter is still that site, it has also grown into a media and marketing super power. Brands, companies, public figures and sports teams/athletes are now able to use Twitter and Instagram to maximise their reach and marketing abilities in a way that was not previously possible.
The NFL is one such entity that has used social media to their advantage. Across their Instagram and twitter they have an incredible 60 million followers. Originally, their socials were pretty basic, as were most in the early days of social media. You would get news on kick off times, reminders of upcoming games etc. However, their strategy has changed significantly over time and now, as with most brands, leagues etc, their strategy is to maximize their engagements. Their Super Bowl content is especially entertaining and we could be seeing Patrick Mahomes popping up to create content for them yet again nest season with NFL odds having his Chiefs side among the favorites to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Their social media channel is an extremely important tool in reaching audiences outside of the US. Whilst the NFL is the most popular sports league in the nation, social media indicates that it is actually the NBA with the wider global reach with over 100 million followers. As such, the NFL is trying to catch up with them as a competitor and there is no better way to do this than by the use of social media. This is because, unlike programming and other media, the likes of twitter and Instagram is available all over the world. By bringing more eyes onto their social channels it can in turn lead to a bigger worldwide audience, this creating more opportunities for the league.
But how does the NFL engage with their followers? Lets take a look at the strategies they use.
Partnering with influencers/celebrities
As we have seen social media become ingrained in pop culture, we have seen the rise of the ‘influencer’. If you are not familiar with the concept of an influencer, they are essentially people who became famous through social media and after gaining massive numbers of followers have the ability to influence potential buyers. In 2023 alone we have already seen YouTuber ‘Mr. Beast’ and rappers Quavo and Saweetie pop up across the leagues socials. The reason this is huge for the league is that it gives them the opportunity to draw in those who whilst they may not be fans of the sport, they are fans of the influencers/celebrities. In turn, after watching or reading about why their favorite youtuber was hanging out with Tom Brady they could potentially become hooked by the sport itself.
Producing video content
The way brand utilise video content has become even more important since Tik Tik took off in the late 2010s. Whilst they were creating video content for their socials before, Tik Tok meant that they had to find a way to jump on trends with their video content too rather than purely posting highlights, interview etc. This content can be comedic, insightful or purely factual, as long as it has entertainment value. With that being said however, it is still incredibly important that they keep the basics as well. Posting game highlights, especially for big plays, is enough as well to draw the eye of someone who may not be familiar with the sport. By showcasing the talent that we see in the NFL every single week on their twitter, Instagram or Tik Tok they can draw in viewers yet again who may well be intrigued by the highlights they have seen.
The best source for information
When looking at the NFL’s socials as of writing, there is one very noticeable thing in particular. They are constantly updating their feed with news. This is a busy time for the league despite it being the offseason with the Draft soon to get underway and players entering free agency or signing extensions. There is no better way to keep up with all of this than by following their social media channels. They are constantly updating their feed with news the minute it has been confirmed to them, meaning it is not rare to see 10 or 11 uploads in a single day during the offseason just on their Instagram alone.
Social media has been the driving force behind thousands of marketing campaigns for the best part of 10 years now and it is only getting stronger. The NFL are experts in utilizing this tool to promote the league around the globe.