The NFL knows how to use their fans. The organization isn’t manipulative, but encourages their fans to contribute user-generated content to their brand. The quintessential advertising design plan circulates around the idea of “paid media”. The NFL would pay an ad agency to create a print piece to put in magazines, newspapers, on billboards, etc. However, what the NFL does instead, is by having their fans and followers post their own content, the organization is able to extend their reach far beyond what is expected. The NFL uses their fans’ own personal networks to disseminate more information.
One of the platforms the organization uses very well to accomplish this is Instagram. Instagram, being a multimedia-sharing site with over 305 million total active monthly users, is a site where user-generated content can be used by individuals and companies to accomplish marketing goals.
The NFL has many ways of spreading news, getting fans involved, and marketing products. One way in which they do this is by using the universal “#hashtag”. Using the hashtag “#NFL” will take a follower to another page specifically designated to similar posts that also have the same hashtag. By doing this, fans are able to see related stories, make connections, and get updated on competitions.
The Washington Redskins decided to create a marketing competition for the best picture from a fan in the stadium on gameday. The team called it the “#FanoftheGame” and the account chose a photo that contained the hashtag and the winner was awarded a prize. This increases reach by allowing access to more followers and it also was able to promote the Redskins without any effort.
Not only can the NFL as a whole and individual teams utilize this function. Most professional players use Instagram just as much to promote their own brands. The player is instantly connected with the community, their participation and support, and collaboration on major projects. The player can use his profile to raise awareness for supported causes, talk about himself, give information to his fans, and state his opinion on social issues. However, this can sometimes cause controversy. Athletes rely a great deal on their public image. By using these online profiles to self-represent themselves, they are able to form a connection and identity with their fans. This directly helps and sustains supporter-base for athletes in the NFL.
The NFL has an Instagram account as well where they upload breaking news, interesting stories and pictures, player interviews, and promotional videos.
Instagram allows for the organization to reach its constituencies by only creating an account. Again, this is a job that can be handled by a single person, which means the capital gain is enormous through the use of this channel.
Another key advantage to using Instagram as a social media platform is the idea that the NFL is now more capable of better understanding their constituencies. Every time a follower and/or “fan” engages with a campaign, the marketing team can then collect contact information and certain demographics to better structure their message to their audience. By using fan behavior to optimize the NFL’s ads, emails, and postings, the organization has a key understanding of where their fans are, what they are talking about, and when they are doing it.