The NHL Lockout is finally over and we want to highlight a team who has kept their fans engaged this whole time.
When 2013 hit, and half the hockey season had gone by with no games, no one was actually sure if there would be an NHL hockey game played in 2013. NHL teams have had a hard time keeping the fans in high spirits through all of this. At the beginning of what should have been the beginning of the hockey season, I wrote a blog on hockey teams keeping their fans engaged during the lockout. I looked through all 30 teams and their social presence: what platforms they are on, what they were doing during the lockouts and how their fans were responding. I started with a long list of my top teams and then widdled it down to a shorter list of five to keep my article brief — really what I wanted to do was highlight what the best of the best were doing and what the differences were between them.
Now that the lockout has ended, I want to highlight one team who failed to make my list last time and deserves the spotlight for being the best they can be to their fans through the entire lockout: The New Jersey Devils.
Thanks to a few (an army actually) dedicated and passionate fans I was shown first hand that this team truly knows how to keep their fans engaged — even when there was no hockey!
Hockey fans everywhere were angry (and probably still are) that they weren’t able to watch their favorite team on the ice during the season. No matter what the team, or what the platform they have no problem telling their respective teams how they feel! In fact on some Facebook pages, it didn’t matter what the team posted, the fans were angry. Some fans commented that they shouldn’t post anything until there was hockey again — or even worse that they were going to “unlike” the page. But not New Jersey Devil’s fans.
The Devils run what they call Mission Control. Mission Control consists of five staff members and a dozen social savvy fans called “Devils Generals”.
So how did they keep their 317K Facebook fans and 110K Twitter followers entertained? Well, for starters they know their fans and they aren’t afraid to engage them.
On Facebook, the New Jersey Devils social media team has theme days where they ask questions about old Devils history, or make fans guess who a certain player is based on trivia. What keeps fans coming back for more is their level of consistency and engagement and their true passion for the team and the community. Although fans don’t know when to expect to see the next Devils game, what they do know is that they’ll be taken down memory lane on Throwback Thursday, or learn a new stat on Fact Friday. Here are just some of the fun things they do to keep fans engaged:
The “Fan of the Week” gets his/her picture on the Devils Facebook cover photo.
Fact Friday delivers Devils fans a new fact about stats or the history of the team.
And of course, they post updates on their American Hockey League team, the Albany Devil’s to remind fans that there is still hockey being played somewhere.
On Twitter, the Devils have three accounts and a ton of support. There’s the @NHLDevils main account, @NJDevilsPR and @NJDevilsArmy. The main account, @NHLDevils tweets pictures from their Instagram account:
They do giveaways for #FanAppreciationFriday:
And they also have #WhoInTheDevilAmI. Just like on Facebook, they give a clue and a picture with the person cut out of it.
The @NHLDevilsPR handle is an account for the communications department. That handle tweets updates and news about the franchise.
And then there’s the @DevilsGenerals account. This handle is the voice of the New Jersey Devils Army. That’s right, the New Jersey Devils have an army of raving fans that tweet, blog and Instagram all things NJ Devils! These dedicated tweeters help rally the troops and keep the engagement levels going online.
The New Jersey Devils have truly shown how to build a community and keep it going through the toughest of times: a hockey team that hasn’t played a game for almost half the season. Take notes, NHL – this social media team knows what they’re doing!