Industry Leaders Weigh In: Who Is The 2017 NFL Social MVP?
The Philadelphia Eagles were holding the Lombardi trophy by the end of Super Bowl LII. But, which team held the trophy for NFL social MVP?
We at STN Digital, a sports and entertainment social media agency in San Diego, reached out to our trusted industry experts to get their take. The question was simple, "Who do you think was the best NFL team on social media in 2017?"
"This is even more difficult than selecting a top MLB team in social. I’m constantly impressed with the quality, creativity, and approach of many NFL teams. The Jaguars, Vikings, Cardinals, and Falcons to name a few. It’s hard not to pick the Panthers given how many hours were invested in that social strategy, but I’m going to stay unbiased here (they are still among the most engaging and responsive in pro sports). The Miami Dolphins do video far better than anyone else in the game. The Packers do an excellent job of blending their rich history and current success with high-quality visual content. The list goes on.
One team deserves serious recognition however: The Chicago Bears. The most difficult thing to do right on social is write really good copy, and the Bears manage to consistently nail it every time. They know when to be fun and are extremely clever. They know when to get serious. And they know how to tell a story that resonates with fans in a powerful way using as few words as possible. Their twitter handle has a great sense of humor too.
The team is clearly committed to quality visual content. Every video photo looks crisp and every video is shot with digital in mind. Their graphics are also on another level, among the best in the league. It can be such a challenge to make an older brand feel fresh, but the Bears have done a superb job with this over the years. They also respond and engage with fans, which always gets you extra points in my book.
Bottom line, the Bears manage to hit on all cylinders despite operating as a more historically conservative franchise AND while rebuilding on the field. Any social media manager will tell you the impact team competitiveness has on digital success. The Bears, however, manage to win on social even when the team is not winning on the field. A true testament of a very, very talented team.”
To check out the Chicago Bears, click here: Instagram & Twitter
Follow Dan on Twitter here!
"Call me a homer, but in my mind the Atlanta Falcons take the cake here. The social staffing additions they’ve made over the past year-and-a-half are paying dividends. They probably double as MVP and Most Improved.
Their diversity is impressive. From an access standpoint, they give their fans the inside look at anything and everything. Team practices, travel, events, you name it. Their production quality on videos, graphics, and photos are stunning. They mix it up well, their content is wide-ranging and interesting.
They know how to use each channel for its purpose too. On Instagram, high-quality images and short video clips get fans pumped up in a medium where the visuals tell the story. On Twitter, they’re playful and confident but not cocky on a medium where their brand voice comes through easiest. Their social copy is short and straight to the point for brand-building messages. They never use more words than necessary.
I have no issue admitting that I probably see more Falcons content than others, so take that for what it’s worth. There are other teams that I think do a phenomenal job (Cowboys, Panthers, Cardinals to name a few) but Atlanta’s the best."
To check out the Atlanta Falcons, click here: Instagram & Twitter
Follow Jaryd on Twitter here!
"As someone who works closely with all 32 clubs all year long, it's almost impossible to select just one MVP this year. Overall, I was thrilled with how every single club stepped up their game on social (and specifically on Twitter). Everyone was creating more meaningful content and interactions with their fans on a daily basis. Kudos to all of the social managers who developed and executed such fantastic strategies all year long.
I like to think of the social MVP as someone who checks off all the boxes. Live content, strong visual identity, brand voice, creative video content, and interactions with fans. While I truly can't pick a favorite, I will showcase a few of the best examples in my opinion from teams this year.
Live Content - Team's went LIVE more this year than ever before, bringing teams closer to the action every day of the week. The Dolphins, Seahawks, Steelers, Eagles, and Broncos CRUSHED their Periscope game this year. Everything from bringing podcasts, studio shows, press conferences and more to their fans every day.
Visual Identity - The Dolphins, Vikings, and Falcons, in my opinion, have created a stunning, consistent visual identity. The visuals are always relevant to their brand. They evoke emotion and ultimately allow their presence on digital to feel cohesive in a way that many other teams don't have.
Brand Voice - So many great examples, but hats off to the Browns. Even with a tough season yet again, they were able to evoke humor and sarcasm to make the best of their season, despite the performance on the field. Eagles are a close 2nd. They had outstanding interactions with fans from their account all season long. And this incredible championship Tweet reminding fans that there is indeed a human element behind these accounts.
Creative Video Content - Impossible to select just one, but the Cardinals, Panthers, Steelers, and Falcons really stood out. These teams brought creative, eye-popping, and new video content which not only told a story but looked good in the process.
Long story short - NFL teams as a whole crushed this year on Social and can't wait to see what next season brings to the table!"
Follow David on Twitter here!
“With respect to the Panthers, Cowboys, and Cardinals, my 2017 NFL MVP of Social Media has to be the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not only did they have a turn-around season on the field, they had one on the interwebs as well.
The Jaguars have not had much to cheer about over the past few years. When the opportunity arose this year for the Jacksonville football team, the social media team capitalized on every facet of conversation. Everything from specialized photo/video content to back-and-forth banter with fans, to sending the most viral – and vicious – NFL tweet of the year.
The Jags also did a great job of cross-promoting, not only with their adversaries on the field but with other entities across all sports. A key initiative in Social Media marketing is to garner the attention of fans who may never come across your brand. The Jags capitalized on that. Well done, Sacksonville.”
To check out the Jacksonville Jaguars, click here: Instagram & Twitter
Follow Randall on Twitter here!
"My pick for the NFL’s best social media team is the Carolina Panthers. Take Valentine’s Day alone. The Panthers’ Facebook feed featured a clever “catching feelings” edit. Kyle Love answering romance questions as “Dr. Love”. A link to a gallery of Panthers fans that have gotten married & more. Their social media channels capture the heartbeat and storylines of the team but manage to consistently stay fun, fresh and relevant. There are glimpses from inside the locker room that feel authentic, clever partnerships like “Sweet Victory” with Krispy Kreme.
They also had a nice mix of produced graphics and edits including the #MyCauseMyCleats videos. Whether it’s a player milestone or pop culture reference, the Panthers’ social team doesn’t miss a beat. They are able to cover both with creative content and a sharp voice that seems made for social.
While my pick is the Panthers, there were so many great social media teams across the NFL this past season. I also want to give a mention to the Chicago Bears for their creativity, social franchises, and well-produced video edits."
To check out the Carolina Panthers, click here: Instagram & Twitter
Follow Tracy on Twitter here!
So, what did it take to be the best NFL team on social in 2017? The answer isn't cut and dry, but the teams that ranked above the rest clearly had a diverse array of content and didn't slack on the details.
After hearing from the experts, we received great insight on what made teams stand out from the pack. It wasn't nearly enough to master a single element. To be a true champion, it required the full package: live content, visual elements, brand voice, the ability to stay relevant with pop culture, and above all - originality.
In 2017, the bar was set high. Here at STN, we think there are several opportunities for teams to rise during the 2018 season. With news like the Facebook algorithm continuing to shift our industry, it becomes increasingly important for organizations to find new ways of engaging with fans. As the industry becomes more "pay to play" and organic content takes a back seat, which teams will align with the right strategic partners to unlock their brand's full potential?