Monday, November 7, 2011

The Hail Mary of New Media: How the NFL incorporated New Media into America's Past Time

      The National Football League has always been a hub of marketing for consumer America. From the classic American ritual of Sunday football, to Monday nights, to the grand climax of advertising year: the Super Bowl, the NFL is a prime locale for the latest and greatest in advertising campaigns, and has for years set the tone of the next year of marketing strategies and campaigns. Over 111 million viewers watched the Super Bowl in 2011, making it the most watched television program in history.

      With the emergence of social media, the NFL has decided take marketing itself to the next level. Jeff Berman, the general manager of NFL Digital leads a team of 150 people seeking to “establish the a 24/7, nonstop topic of conversation”. In order to do this, the have built a “federalist” system  (in the words of Berman) that combines the holistic power and presence of the NFL with that of individual teams, allowing for the two to work in tandem to build momentum for one another. Berman also stresses engagement with followers as paramount to success. 

      Thus far, Berman’s strategy has been remarkably successful. The NFL’s Facebook page has grown to over 4 million, and individual teams boast up to 2.5 million. That 474% more active users, and they generate over 144% more content than in previous years! They have previously set a record for the most tweets per second on Twitter, and hope to take back that record (from Beyonce) during this year’s Super Bowl. The point is: Berman’s team is doing something right. People are talking about the NFL!

      So what do I, as a mediocrely impassioned fan of NFL Football take away from the NFL’s success and progress on advancing the league using social media? In sum: It isn’t about the football. Sure, football is a vastly popular American past time, which means lots of people want to talk about it. But there are a few tactics utilized by Berman and his team that every social media marketer should consider:
  1. Tweak strategy on a weekly basis. Social media is always changing.
  2. The primary of purpose of every post is to draw people back into the main website
  3. Engagement and conversation are essential 
  4. Give individuals (or in the case of the NFL, clubs) leeway to experiment, and apply successful tactics league wide
  5. Data tells an “objective and compelling story.” Follow it.
  6. Fans want to be engaged in “deep and more meaningful ways.” Give your product compelling value for the sake of your followers.

Ben Battaglia is a senior at Northwestern completing a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, as well as majors in Political Science and International Studies. He loves exploring the power of social media, as well as football. You can find him tweeting his thoughts about Social Media and Marketing at @benbattaglia. 


  1. Well done and an interesting topic. Good job and a very interesting topic

  2. If you are struggling to make social media work for you then you are not alone. Above 90% business owners are facing same dilemma, as the challenge of this industry is that, it is constantly changing.