Improve the NFL Experience with Social


It’s Friday. Let’s have some fun and talk football!

While not my favorite, the NFL reigns as America’s most popular sports league.

Yet, social media has yet to become widely embraced by the league and its teams outside of broadcast-like promotion. For example, the NFL does not offer access to commonly accepted social networks on its front page.

TV works well for the NFL. The NFL on-screen experience has become so good that more and more fans opt to watch at home rather than in stadium. Attendance hit an average of 64,706 last season, down about 4.5 percent from the record in 2007. While great for TV contracts, dropping attendance is bad for owners who are losing revenue.

This in turn creates an opportunity to further improve a very successful product with a combined integrated in-person event, TV, and social entertainment experience.

Roger Goodell recently held a meeting with fans from all 32 teams to better the game day experience, and social media was a consistent topic. Here are some thoughts on how social could be used to make the game day experience better:

1) Integrate In Stadium Social Media

Redskins Chargers Game

Plenty of fans take photos and update from the stadium. Teams should enhance attendees’ experience by turning them into citizen journalists.

Hire a community manager to curate and reshare the social content across the teams’ various online channels during the game. Hashtagsag can be used to track photos and updates on Instagram, Twitter and Google+.

Also feature the content on in-stadium screens and even the main scoreboard during time-outs and commercial breaks.

2) Every Player Is an Ambassador

Steve Johnson God Be Damned Tweet

The ridiculous trash talking that players engage in on Twitter is quite entertaining.

Instead of just letting the players tweet and post randomly, train them on community management best practices. We know many of them won’t listen, but some will.

In turn, they will build better, more loyal followings, and while they remain with the team, they’ll better engage fans, creating a win-win.

3) Host Official In Game Chats

Got my GetGlue stickers.

Whether it’s through GetGlue, on Facebook, or using hashtag chats, host officially branded in-game conversations with fans watching the game from home.

Yes, there will be negative comments, cursing, passion and just flat-out lewdness. So what? It doesn’t mean the team has to amplify them.

Moderating an in game conversation will thoroughly excite fans, enhance their experience, and give the teams a method to harness the online Social TV commercial. In turn, they can sell sponsorships for the chat, and monetize the conversation.

Those are three quick ideas off the top of my head. I’m sure you have an idea or three, too.

How do you think social can better the NFL in game experience?

8 thoughts on “Improve the NFL Experience with Social

  1. Great ideas, Geoff. I think things like photos, particularly via Instagram, could really be cool, especially as they, and tweets, etc, show up on the big screen at a game. Make it more interactive. At the Phillies game I went to recently there were a few interactive elements, such as texting to enter contests or vote for which song got played between innings. The NFL might not agree, but it would be fun to have a “You make the call” type of contest, i.e. guessing whether the next play will be a pass play or running play. Maybe even add a fantasy football element.

    Wow, the possibilities are endless!

    • Yeah, I think they could really go out of bx and create a unique fan experience. Probably something each of the teams could experiment with and then share best practices across the markets. Go get that Eagles contract!

  2. Love all three ideas, and I especially like running contests or just having a “slightly moderated” Twitter feed show real-time on the big screen (always need to screen for inappropriate content). For the last Super Bowl, we actually used our monitoring/sentiment analysis tool to track all the social mentions for the two teams in a “scoreboard” format. Each tweet would increment the score for the appropriate team…as well as drop as a pushpin on a map. It was fun to watch throughout the game.

    • The amount of fan activity behind an NFL game is just astounding. So much good stuff to harness. I’d love to see what your maps looked like if you care to drop a link. Cheers!

  3. Social media before the game and after, for sure. And I like the “You Make the Call” idea, @facebook-501456842:disqus — you should become rich off that one!

    To me, a huge problem for the NFL is the interminable in-game stoppages for commercials, time-outs and play reviews. It’s not such a problem for viewers at home because the networks fill the gaps with chatter, instant replay, highlights, cutting away to other games, etc. Plus you can always go the fridge, the bathroom or take a nap in the middle and come back later.

    But if you’re in the stadium all those breaks in the action can be a huge downer.

    Maybe social media can help mitigate the problem. But to solve it, Roger Goodell and the owners would have to limit the number of timeouts instead of milking every moment to produce revenue at the expense of the fan’s experience.

    They could do it too, if they replaced those :60 ad breaks with other types of ads. Like quick partial-screen billboard ads that run between plays. (That would cut down on the ongoing “analysis” between each play, which to me would be a side benefit.)

    They might even find that by reducing the overall number of commercial breaks, they can raise the prices of individual ads.

    The NFL could learn a few things from soccer around the world. I believe the English Premier League, the Spanish League, the German Bundesliga and the Italia Serie A are all doing killer business, and the most important games of the year are usually over 2 hours after they start, including 90 minutes of play time. An NFL game can take 3.5 hours, which includes just 60 minutes of actual action.

    • I agree. The commercial breaks suck, making the game as exciting as a NASCAR race (not very_. Further the fans at least in Philly and DC where I have gone to games act terribly, making it a craptastic experience if you just want to go to a game and chill.

      I do LOVE college football, though and think that offers a much better in game experience for the fans. Both MD and VA have good football stadiums.

      Great comparison to the premier league, too. Great comment!

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