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Social Media, The NHL Lockout and the New Jersey Devils

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.

New Jersey Devils Facebook Fan

Who in the Devil is a trivia contest that includes a trivia clue about a person in the organization and a picture with that person cut out of it.New_Jersey_Devils_WhointheDevil

Fact Friday delivers Devils fans a new fact about stats or the history of the team.

New Jersey Devils Fact Friday
Throwback Thursday takes fans down memory lane to great moments in New Jersey Devils history.

New Jersey Devils Throwback Thursday
They also do a lot in their community and know to post about it on the Facebook page.

New Jersey Devils on Facebook

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:

New Jersey Devils Instagram

They do giveaways for #FanAppreciationFriday:

New Jersey Devils Fan Appreciation Friday

They have Twit Pic contests:
NJDevils Twitter Contest

#FactFriday is something they do on Twitter as well as Facebook.
NJDevils Twitter Fact Friday

And they also have #WhoInTheDevilAmI. Just like on Facebook, they give a clue and a picture with the person cut out of it.

NJDevils WhoInTheDevil

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!

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9 Responses to Social Media, The NHL Lockout and the New Jersey Devils

  1. Rob January 10, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    FYI – the official twitter handle for the New Jersey Devils is @NHLDevils, not NYDevils (not sure where the NY came from!)

  2. Bernd W January 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    As a Devils fan, I can honestly say I did not appreciate the team’s efforts to keep me “engaged” during the lockout. Every single post I read just pissed me off more, especially when it was that criminal Vanderbeek posting his “statements”.

    I’m not spending any money on the team this season, and I’m going to try to stick with that for as long as I can. They steal from the city and they screw their fans over every chance they get. Their social media team may be good, but that doesn’t change the fact that the organization itself is essentially evil.

  3. Bernd W January 10, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    Also: The reason I started keeping up with their social efforts at all was that during ’10-11, they offered great deals for a few fans who wanted to meet in the middle deck behind the goal for a soccer-style support section. The team was super-unusual about the way they handled it: Major discounts on tickets and no checks at the sections inside the arena, so anyone could walk over, try out whether they enjoyed the support, and then get tickets for that area the next time. Great stuff and the first time this college kid felt like there was actually a place for him in the arena.

    Of course, in the summer of 2011, they used the mailing list they’d organized to institutionalize the “Supporters Section” – as in graciously offer season tickets to the people situated there, brand the entire thing, and move it into a corner section.

    I mean, it’s good business. But yeah…I’m not going to play cheerleader for the Devils at full price for a season. And I’m pretty sure they didn’t actually need me around in the first place. I’ll watch them on TV on the channels my cable monopolist makes me pay for anyway.

  4. Barry G. January 11, 2013 at 6:36 am #

    I appreciate what they did for the fans. I was angry with the league for taking hockey from me but glad to see them put an effort forth. Some teams hid under a rock and did nothing to engage fans.

  5. Ashley Ray January 11, 2013 at 6:36 am #

    Rob, NYDevils was a typo!

    Berd, Thank you for your comment. I know not every Devils fan was engaged with the social media efforts during the lockout. Thank you for speaking your mind!

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  1. Social Media, The NHL Lockout and the New Jersey Devils | Social Media Sports Marketing | - January 14, 2013

    […] Want to know who has been keeping their fans up-to-date the most during the 2012 NHL Lockout? The New Jersey Devils have been the most engaging team by far.  […]

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