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Missed Opportunity for the NFL on Opening Weekend

As I write this post on Monday afternoon, the day after Opening Sunday (and six hours before kickoff of Monday Night Football), the NFL is being mentioned on Twitter at an extraordinary rate. In the past hour, “NFL” has been tweeted 1,500+ times.

I want to take this as a chance to highlight a missed opportunity for the NFL. In the past four days (Thursday was the first game of the season and yesterday was Opening Sunday), the league has received thousands and thousands of mentions and @replies, yet they’ve failed to respond to a single fan. It’s about time for the league to stop using their account as a news feed. To be fair, the MLB doesn’t do much better, but the NBA and NHL both respond to fans all the time. And you can bet if it were opening day, their feeds would be full of @replies.

Below is a screenshot of the National Football League’s Twitter account, taken from Sunday night through Monday midday.

@NFL Feed

Yesterday, the NFL tweeted: “Question of the day… TD or no TD? http://fb.me/GwO4MQHk.” Great job by the league! Seriously. They highlighted a controversial play, a play on which everyone seemed to have an opinion (clearly a touchdown). So, excellent job for asking. However, what good is asking a question if you’re not going to pay attention to / acknowledge the answers?

The NFL doesn’t add much value by using their account as a news feed. They provide the same information we can easily find on NFL.com or NFL Network, but the real issue is the lack of interaction. On one of the top two significant days on the NFL’s calendar, when fans across the league were by far at their most interested, passionate, and talkative, the NFL was nowhere to be found.

Fans don’t tweet just to tweet. They want to be heard and acknowledged. All it takes is an intern. Bring on a passionate, football-loving, college student, give him or her some guidelines, and let them go. Interacting with fans is key to building a passionate community. Sure, fans enjoy being responded to by other fans, but when the brand gets involved, you have a real chance to generate excitement and take the community to the next level. Even with 1.715 million followers, the community can always be stronger.

I hope the NFL will learn their lesson and interact, especially on gamedays. Football-related conversation is off the charts on Sundays, and the NFL is missing a valuable opportunity to engage with the very people who make their business thrive.

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Image by bobo1522

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12 Responses to Missed Opportunity for the NFL on Opening Weekend

  1. Evan Derman September 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    They may have missed out, but it won’t hurt the NFL one bit. The machine is waaaaay to big for a lack of @ replys affect them.

  2. Anonymous September 14, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    Of course not. Won’t hurt them short-term, but it’s a sign they’re not fully embracing social, which is bad news long-term.

  3. Joshua A. Boren September 14, 2010 at 10:44 pm #

    While I agree with the post in general, I think it is worth pointing out that @MLB has definitely increased their twitter interaction and activity over the past few months. I’ve enjoyed following @MLB as they run different promotions like “who wants to be followed by @MLB?”, deals on their for-sale apps, and (most recently) a full day worth of giveaways for hitting 1M followers. Of course they can always improve but I think it is worth noting that @MLB is doing a fairly good job. Just my two cents!

    -Josh (@JoshuaABoren)

  4. Sam September 15, 2010 at 8:02 am #

    is this a subtle demand for social media grading of the big 4, year 2? 😉

  5. Anonymous September 15, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

    Josh, thanks for the comment. I think you’re right. I was in NO WAY putting down the MLB’s social media presence as a whole, was just pointing out their seeming inability to @reply fans, and interact on a 1-on-1 level.

    Sam, I think it must be done…

  6. Pat Coleman September 15, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    I really disagree with the assertion that MLB doesn’t interact with its fans. Clearly you haven’t been watching them recently. Check out MLB — really, anytime, afternoon or evening.

  7. Colinokeefe September 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

    While I think there is something to to be said for interaction, I’d much prefer that I was hearing from someone who truly represented the teams and organizations I’m following. For example, I’d rather hear from the PR and marketing individuals at the team and league (using their own individual accounts) instead of a faceless logo. While I can get newsfeed type content from NFL.com, I can also get meaningless chatter from a relatively powerless college-aged football nut by exchanging IMs with my buddies.

    Teams and leagues need to get individual executives using social networking if they truly want to reap the benefits and build powerful relationships.

  8. Colinokeefe September 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

    While I think there is something to to be said for interaction, I’d much prefer that I was hearing from someone who truly represented the teams and organizations I’m following. For example, I’d rather hear from the PR and marketing individuals at the team and league (using their own individual accounts) instead of a faceless logo. While I can get newsfeed type content from NFL.com, I can also get meaningless chatter from a relatively powerless college-aged football nut by exchanging IMs with my buddies.

    Teams and leagues need to get individual executives using social networking if they truly want to reap the benefits and build powerful relationships.

  9. Anonymous September 16, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    EXCELLENT point, Colin. That’s why Comcast, for example, is known for their customer service through Twitter. They’re transparent. We know who’s talking to us, and that means a lot for customers & fans.

  10. Anonymous September 16, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    Pat, just checked their Twitter feed. I see one or two @replies to fans over the past 24 hours. Most @replies are to MLB accounts. I was in no way trashing their account, just pointing out a weakness.

  11. WebsmithBLOG September 18, 2010 at 3:28 am #

    Great post, Sam!

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