The New York Jets have launched an “aggressive” new marketing campaign, specifically, targeting social media as its medium, finally putting “tweeting” and touchdowns in the same sentence. While the Jets aren’t the first NFL franchise to use social media, their campaign is one of the most innovative and comprehensive of any major sports franchise.
Unlike music, film, and television, sports’ teams have been slower to adopt social media; while most teams have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, the use of social media has yet to be incorporated into the “starting line-up” of most team’s major marketing strategies. Across several sports and leagues, it’s difficult to speculate about why this might be the case, but, with any luck, the Jets new campaign will encourage other teams to follow suit.
What makes the Jets campaign unique is that it goes beyond traditional uses of social media, creating engaging, and also profitable, opportunities for fans to interact with their favourite team and players. This includes a Facebook page, with interactive tabs where fans can wish players a happy birthday, a “connect with the Jets” micro-site, which allows Jets’ Twitter followers to receive prizes and enter sweepstakes, and live video chats on Ustream as well as their website. Two additional Jets campaigns are particularly innovative
The first is Ultimate Fan, the first revenue generating Facebook Application to be backed by a sports team. Through the App, fans can connect with one another, make head-to-head predictions, and build virtual tailgates. Not only does this connect fans with one another, it also seamlessly integrates sponsors into the App, making it a lucrative business venture.
The second unique App is the Fireman Ed Chant App which allows fans with Android Smart Phones to create personalized Fireman Ed J-E-T-S chants and share them via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. These unique uses of social media are paying off for the Jets franchise. The Jets Facebook page has 349, 777 fans and 81, 217 followers on Twitter (best for 1st in the NFL). The Jets are 3rd in overall Facebook and Twitter rankings among all major sports teams. Those, are what we call, winning statistics.
What differentiates the Jets from other NFL teams, and many other sports Franchises, is not just the amount of social media options available to engage fans, but also the creativity, specificity, and interactivity of each part of their campaign. Not only does this benefit the fans, it is also a huge bonus for the franchise itself.
Sport and social media share two common traits: immediacy and common experience. From an entertainment perspective, Sport is most exciting when it’s live and when it’s shared. This is why stadiums are so large; even from nose bleed seats, there is the spark of being a fan in a crowd. It creates a sense of interactivity with the teams. The fans cheer. The fans jeer. The fans impact the arena, and it is for this reason that social media is a perfect complement to sport. Social media, when used effectively, can enhance both immediacy and interactivity, creating a better and more engaged experience for the fan. In an unstable economic climate, sport franchises needs to consider adjusting marketing strategies to include a heavier, more creative, emphasis on social media. If the Jets are any indication, this won’t be a trick play, but a long term strategy that will satisfy sponsors an fans alike.