NHL Teams Turning to Social Media

NHL Elevator

NHL Offices Elevator

I recently met with a contact of mine, Mark Schultz, Manager of Club Consulting and Services at the NHL here in Toronto.

We talked about a recent post from my blog, and how NHL teams are increasingly interested in social media. Some teams are already active, while others have yet to incorporate social media into their marketing mix.

Mark and I discussed some interesting ideas – like how teams can use Twitter to release game day ticket availability from unclaimed reserve seating, and the importance of a CRM (Jon Spoelstra 101). We talked about the exponential marketing visibility provided by Facebook engagement – and as the Friend and Follower numbers grow, how to incorporate sponsorship activation.

When teams begin a social media campaign – there are a couple of key points they need to keep top of mind:

  1. ROI as traditional marketing measurement is now based on ROT (Time) – Most social media tools are free to use, but organizations need to account for the time their internal resources spend on these projects.
  2. Tools behind the Platforms – While its easy for anyone to start using social media for marketing, there are a number of tools and applications available to maximize use.
  3. Now is the Time – A tough economy brings another business case to leverage social media, but teams are recognizing that their markets are already there in social networks. Sponsorship opportunities are close to follow, so build these online communities now.

Regarding the economy – while its been a promising week on the markets, things will continue to remain unstable for the foreseeable future. The Maple Leafs are using in-game ad time to initiate a season ticket renewal campaign and offering incentives (like a meet/greet with the GM) – this is new for the Leafs, the most financially stable and strong of the 30 team NHL. If there is such activity in Toronto, a very strong market with an iron clad brand; it points at the deepening trouble in other markets.

So now is the time for teams to turn to social media:

  • The short term win is stronger fan engagement
  • The strategic win is increased opportunities for sponsorship activation

Over to you – if you are a fan, are you connected with your favorite team through social media? Are you a sports marketer? How does your organization currently work with online communities?


19 thoughts on “NHL Teams Turning to Social Media

  1. Hi Carson…
    I work with a digital agency in Toronto called and we do a lot of work with CBC Sports and a lot of it is centered around hockey.
    We recently launched a highly social UGC video editing initiative called “Hockey Night Mashup” and the results have been spectacular. Sponsored by Rogers, the application has generated over 20,000 videos and those videos have generated over 2.5 million views and over 5 million banner impressions. We’ve integrated brand into the entire experience including pre/post roll stingers, banner ad units and in app advertising.

    The key, as you mentioned, is engagement. (fans spend b/w 10-60 mins creating videos on our application) Hockey fans will consumer hockey content. No question about it. The teams should focus on providing fans with opportunities to engage with content on a community level. Accomplishing that, sponsorship becomes a realistic way to amortize and profit from the social media investment. That, I think, would mean everybody is happy.

    check out Hockey Night Mashup at hockeynightmashup.cbc.ca

    Mike McGinn

  2. Very much appreciate your comment, Mike.

    I’m very familiar with Hockey Night Mashup, its great to connect with someone involved, and pleased to see your success!

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    I guess I should start participating instead of just reading the posts all the time.
    I thought about starting my own board but Im glad I found this one instead. Great Info!

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  6. Great article Carson. I have been following NHL jobs and it looks like Detroit put out an Ad for a “Social Networking Coordinator” and the Florida Panthers for a “Emerging Media Manager”. I expect to see more soon.

  7. Thanks Brian,

    I agree, many teams are leveraging existing resources for social media and you’ll see an increased focus on these roles moving forward – across many different industries…

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