Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NHL Gets Social Media Fever

The NBA did it. The NFL did it. The MLB did it. Now the NHL is doing it.
And it makes sense.

The National Hockey League is going all out to promote its league and its upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs via social media with a host of apps, interactive pages and tools. The goal is to get fans to take the hockey message to their networks and increase the visibility of the individual franchises.

This makes sense, especially in light of the string of social media successes experienced by every major sports league. Even cricket matches in India and Pakistan are using social media tools to promote their sport and connect with fans.

Hockey has consistently been the also-ran when it comes to sports in the United States. Even soccer has seen more promotional play than hockey and it's the also-ran of also-rans. Despite this lack of interest in many states, hockey has a HUGE fan base across North America. Their fans are legion, and more importantly, fiercely devoted. They brave the cold, the packed arenas, the flying pucks, just for a chance to see their favorite teams duke it out on the ice. Using social media to connect with these already committed fans is simply making good use of existing resources.

I often see examples of businesses using social media to reach new customers, while neglecting the power of their existing fan base. The goal is to wield social media in such a way that both those groups feel welcomed.

A great example of this exists in traditional marketing strategies which offer sign-up incentives to new customers yet provide no benefits for existing customers. These tactics often fail to motivate, and the few new customers they bring in are off-set by the existing customers who leave in disgust at being ignored.

Hockey has an opportunity to grow its fan base making good use of its existing fan base by giving something to the latter which they can in turn pass on to the former. This is a complicated way of saying, they're using digital media to treat all their customers right.

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