Social Media and the NFL

By Noah Davis 

More NFL. Cool!

In August, Sports Business Journal held a roundtable discussion with executives from the National Football League. The wide-ranging discussion touched on a number of issues – reading the transcript wouldn’t be the worst way you spent 10 minutes today – but we’ll focus on the social media aspects of the conversation.

Not surprisingly, team executives want to use the new tools to build their brand and communicate with the fanbase. According to Mark Donovan, executive VP, COO Kansas City Chiefs, they are going beyond gametime.

“We think social media and our website are a great way of bringing people closer to us and just grabbing them and saying: “‘Here’s another reason to interact with us,'” he said. “Maybe not on a Sunday, maybe not during the season, but we can continue to build our brand and that relationship.”

That’s a telling statement. Basically, NFL teams are confident they can remain relevant during the season simply because the sport is so ubiquitous. The franchises are trying to use social media to stay in the spotlight during the offseason. Not a bad plan, but you have to worry about fan fatigue.

And is anyone making any money?

Matt Higgins, executive VP, business operations for the New York Jets, sees teams taking an “if you build it, they will come (and spend money)” approach:

“On the business side, two or three years ago I got a cease-and-desist letter for having a Facebook page. We were years behind the rest of the world. A sea change took place, a total paradigm shift, where now the league is giving everybody the green light to experiment and tinker. We launched an application this week on Facebook, something I’m really excited about, which is microtransactions for virtual goods. We launched an application that’s totally predicated on selling virtual goods and generating those microtransactions so I’m happy to say that we sold something virtually this week. We made money on it. All we need is a couple of hundred thousand more.