In the second installment of “Social Media Report Card,” we’re talking football. In the past year, the National Football League has certainly engaged in social media, but have they excelled? Last week, I discussed the NBA. I gave them a ‘B,’ even though I felt like they have consistently done the best job of the four major sports. So, let’s see how the NFL does this week.
I gave the NBA a ‘B’ in this category because, while they run powerful accounts on the three biggest social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, & Youtube), I felt they weren’t utilizing emerging platforms and pushing the envelope enough. I was pleasantly surprised when a commenter let me know that the NBA Development League (NBDL) was on Tumblr. The NFL has a Twitter account with 1.3 million followers, as well as a Facebook page with 266,000 fans, but I am not aware of a Youtube account. The NFL needs to be doing more, that’s all there is to it.
While their seeming unwillingness to share video content hurts them, the NFL does a good job of consistently posting content on its Facebook and Twitter accounts. On Facebook, most of the content links back to NFL.com. While I’m happy to see a lot of this content is interactive with the fans (You decide: Best photo of the week, Discuss: What was Belichick thinking?, etc.), I would rather the NFL take advantage of Facebook photo albums, videos, and discussions. On Twitter, the NFL links back a lot to Facebook, which in turn, links to NFL.com. They also retweet other NFL-related accounts. Ultimately, while the NFL isn’t breaking barriers with their content, their consistency saves them.
Fan Interaction: D
Just like the NBA, the NFL fails to interact with their fans. Fans post every couple of days on the NFL’s Facebook wall (not too impressive). For fans, there is no real reason to post because there is no engagement on the other end. On Twitter, the only accounts the NFL interacts with are other NFL-related accounts. They fail to take advantage of the thousands of followers who tweet at them or mention them every single day. The league only receives a passing mark because of the fact that some of the NFL’s Facebook content encourages interaction on NFL.com.
Player Involvement: A-
If Shaq was the reason the NBA received an ‘A-,’ then Ochocinco is the reason the NFL receives the same grade. Chad Ochocinco is a social media rock star. He has an iPhone app (a rip-off, but he has one), he is a great Twitterer, and an even better Ustreamer. He has a fantastic personality for social media and he is always making headlines and trying to push the needle. Apart from Ochocinco, the NFL has a lot of other players (e.g. Chris Cooley, Kerry Rhodes, Terrell Owens) who use social media well.
When compared to the NBA, the NFL isn’t doing quite as good of a job with social media. They have a strong Twitter account, I will give them that. But the fact that the Chicago Bears have more Facebook fans than the entire National Football League means they could be doing a better job. Also, no visible Youtube account hurts them. The content the NFL produces is consistent, but it isn’t raw, engaging, or personal. I would love to see the league buy a couple of flip cams and go crazy. As for fan interaction, there is no excuse for their lack of engagement. What really saves the NFL’s overall grade is the involvement of their players in social media. The league could learn a thing or two from them.