Facebook Apps that Drive Fan Engagement


Here’s a look at 2 Facebook apps for teams I’ve blogged about previously – the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs.

First off – The Vancouver Canucks Fans App by Watercooler.com

A couple of weeks ago, I connected with Kevin Chou, CEO of Watercooler.com (Pat Coyle had referred him to me – thanks Pat!). While watercooler.com does many interesting things, I am only going to focus on the Canucks app in this post.


While Facebook provides a fan connection opportunity (to both the team and other fans), teams can maximize reasons why their fans would want to join Fan Pages and continue to visit them. The Canucks app provides:

  • Contests
  • Networking/interactivity
  • Share-able content
  • Ability to purshace tickets and merchandise

So beyond the value of social media fan engagement, there is a revenue stream opportunity here as well. At the time of writing – the Canucks app has 183K+ fans… a pretty large group to tap into.

Here is a link to the Maple Leafs App on Facebook

The Leafs have built this App internally – it still requires some tweaking, but when fully operational, it will allow fans to build a custom jersey Facebook Leafs Jerseyonline, or create their own hockey card with their own face/name on it.

What I find interesting about the Leafs social media situation is to see how their fan base buys into it. As I wrote about previously, the Maple Leaf brand is very strong and I expect to see their followers and fans soar online – especially as their on-ice rebuild continues.

If you are on Facebook, I suggest that you give these apps a test drive for yourself- when fans use them, the viral nature of Facebook info permits waves of 2nd degree marketing messages, e-commerce opportunities, and can help drive eyeballs back to the team website.


Twitter and Sports Marketing: Vancouver Canucks


canucks_logoI’ve been doing some consulting with the NHL’s Canucks on their strategies for their Facebook Page and Twitter.

The Canucks have made a focused effort on growing their Twitter followers  (1800+ today). Here’s a look at some of the efforts being implemented that are getting them results:

  • A custom Twitter page (Twitter has some scaling issues)
  • Twitter based contests and give-aways
  • Use of tools like Tweetdeck to help use and organize their efforts
  • Cross platform promotion via Facebook

Beyond loyalty and fan engagement, the Canucks address the ROI effort by looking at possible sponsorship activation opportunities once their numbers are strong (at least 5K+).

With a healthy number of Facebook fans (27K+ today), the Canucks are looking to promote Twitter through that platform. These fans are already active on social media and fans of the team, so they are most likely to follow the team on Twitter. The Canucks can also feature Twitter contest winners on their Facebook page – this makes for a great duality of social media platform crossover.

One of the great things about using Facebook for sports marketing is the visibility chain reaction of Friend engagement. When someone joins a group or makes a comment, their entire Friend network is alerted about it – so a residual marketing message is carried through Friend networks adding an exponential touch to the Facebook marketing strategy – much like WOM (word of mouth), Facebook style.

Follow the Canucks on Twitter at @vancanucks

Sports Marketing & Social Media


As leagues and teams deal with challenging financial realities such as the $175M NBA loan arrangement for cash strapped teams, or the NHL’s Phoenix Coyote’s rent fiasco – there is little doubt that the business of sports sponsorship is in for changes.

Those two “C” words cause a lot of anxiety – Challenge and Change. Luxury suites sit empty this season – but paid for – and who knows what challenges or changes are coming this summer when it is time for teams to negotiate renewals. Sponsors will be reviewing their spending on sponsorships as marketing budgets tighten further…

Challenge and change also have a positive by-product – opportunity. A few teams are increasingly turning to social media – a great marketing fit to leverage engagement and sponsorship within a limited marketing spend.

For this post – I’m going to focus on the NBA, the NHL and Twitter

NHL-LogoNHL Team Twitter Feeds

Have a look at:

At the time of writing, the Red Wings have 1500+ followers, Canucks 600+ and the Caps 700+. One of the Twitter strategies that the Wings are successfully employing is to to follow people – they are currently following over 1600, where are the Caps are following only 2.

These teams are using Twitter to drive fans to their site/blog, score and game play updates and the most powerful exchange in 1-1 fan engagement. While these teams, as well as many other organizations, are unsure how to deploy, track and leverage social media – these are great starts. The look and background of these twitter feeds could be improved, but the messages are getting out, and the participation is there. I have yet to see any sponsorship tied into Twitter, and this is a must moving forward in dealing with the economic climate and requirements of Challenge and Change.

nbalogo44NBA Players and Twitter

A few of players in the NBA are using Twitter on their own – not as part of a team/league strategy – but as individual users:

Notice something? Chris Bosh currently has 4000+ followers and Shaq has almost 200,000. Lots and lots of followers. Why? Authenticity. Fans follow these guys because they receive their own messages and thoughts in real time. Some of their posts are about the previous game while others are just random posts. The ability to tie in sponsorship here at this level has huge potential – but also potential for failure as it could erode the unique and authentic nature of social media engagement.

I love the immediacy of these players reaching out like this – the fact that they are “real” gives fans more of that 1-1 relationship and identification. Part of me fears that sooner or later, a controversy will arise – a situation which prompts team or league social media policy creation or enforcement (hmm… Sean Avery + Twitter = News x Bad Publicity).

These are the early days for sports and social media – it is an exciting time and ideal fit for today’s landscape of media, technology and financial climate.

* UPDATE * March 12, 2009

Phoenix Suns on Twitter

I came across something today… Here is a great link to a blog post about the Phoenix Suns innovative use of Twitter. Very strong fan engagement strategies here…