NHL Scores Hat Trick With Twitter

Next week, Perry Cooper, senior vice president of Digital Media, is speaking at the Forrester Consumer Forum in Chicago.  In preparation for this event, I had the opportunity to learn about how the NHL is empowering it fans and delivering demonstrable results using social media. 

The league is leveraging digital media in many ways to produce benefits for fans, sponsors and the NHL.  One such program was #NHLTweetup, which saw the league sponsor fan tweetups in locations such as Chicago, Nashville and New Zealand.  The program was run at minimal cost to the league; the investment included 250 man hours, 13 pieces of autographed merchandise and gift bags with a total value of just $1,000.

The power of combining Twitter and real-world events is pretty easy to recognize, but the NHL took the time to quantify it.  This program created results for the NHL in at least three ways: 

  • Reach and impressions:  Out of 150 people who attended one NHL tweetup in New York City, 100 of them had Twitter personas that could be analyzed.  The NHL found out each fan had an average of 213 followers per person.  Extrapolating this across all of those who attended the international events, the league estimates that the program created impressions on more than 230,000 people via Twitter.  Of course, the social impressions didn’t stop there — the tweetups resulted in the most blog posts the sport had seen since the NHL Winter Classic. 
  • Relationships and future engagement: Like any successful social media program, this one boosted fans and followers, creating deeper relationships and more opportunities for future engagement.   The NHL tracked not only growth of its own Twitter accounts but also upticks in the Twitter followers of key players.
  • Traditional PR:  The league planned for and executed smart PR around the tweetups.  As the RSVPs were tallied, the NHL gauged the size of events and worked on alerting local and national media.  Getty covered the event in NYC, marketing press (such as Adweek and Ad Age) shared the story and local media (including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Vancouver Sun) added to the impact of these events. In the end, the NHL counted more than 400 mentions in the media. 

The NHL continues to integrate social media into its marketing and relationships.  On April 21, the league implemented Facebook’s Open Graph on NHL.com, resulting in a 167% increase in Facebook “likes” within a few months.  Facebook, which once was NHL.com’s 19th best referrer now ranks as the sixth top referrer to the site, and Facebook visitors average considerably more time, greater numbers of video views and total number of articles read per visitor than the site average.

While the NHL.com is doing a great job of measuring the digital impact of its social media marketing programs, I’m curious about the financial and brand impacts.  How is social media helping to drive more fans in seats or purchases of NHL merchandise?  And how have their efforts on Twitter and Facebook helped to drive strong affinity?  I hope to ask these questions while enjoying Perry’s presentation, “The Empowered NHL: Inspiring Hockey Fans to Act Like Hockey Fans Through Digital Media and Big Events.” 


I think social media helps us

I think social media helps us interact with more fans of many teams, it impacts us and if we have a podcast we can reach a greater audience while enhancing the brand. The people who are socializing with each other already go to games and buy merchandise but they might go to more games because they met people with the same interests. I know I have met a lot of my good friends who are hockey fans who I have gone to games with and buy merchandise.

I am guessing social media also has worked with sponsorships because you can enhance the brand as well by implementing strategic plans between both brands. Plus, the social good campaign between the #LAKings and the #Avalanche was a good way to show how it has been working for them.

There is so much uncovered territory and with smart phones on the rise there is so much more people can do. I am glad that the NHL is being cutting edge because being on a cable channel no one has heard of could hurt them but people are talking about the league and what they are doing correct. It always makes me smile.