On September 5th, Bloomberg Business Week published an article with the title “How the NFL Woos Female Fans.” Within the article the NFL’s Vice President Brand & Creative, Jaime Weston explains some of the reasons behind the push:
“About four years ago, there was a push, recognizing how many women fans we have, that we need to speak to them. And while they follow the game like every other fan, like our male fans, they do want to be spoken to in a little bit different way.”
The article goes on to share the efforts the league will make to reach out to female fans, including a special insert in Marie Claire, print ads, TV spots and the pop-up boutiques called “style lounges.” Note that this push began four years ago.
This morning, I watched the 10am Chargers game, drank my coffee and perused Pinterest. I checked out the NFL’s account. I am disappointed. Where is the strategy? Knowing that (still) nearly 80% of pinners are women, it would seem that a well developed Pinterest strategy would help the NFL connect with precisely the audience it wants to woo. I would think that the stats for purchasing power alone would lure the NFL to Pinterest. Here’s a screenshot of what the NFL has going at the moment:
Haphazard attempt, it appears. In the “NFL” board, there are roughly 530 pins. And the content is all over the place. Some of it is news, some of it is cool photography, some of the pins are uploaded, some are repins. For many of the photos which are uploaded by the NFL, the URL redirects you to the Pinterest account, not to the NFL site or blog or press or the store. There is no care in the captions and no strategic use of hashtags. All I can think is, “Some dude who totally doesn’t get Pinterest must be running this account.”
In fact, on the board titled “NFL Store,” many of the products are not from the NFL store, but from Amazon. The seven pins on the “NFL- Women’s Fashion board have nothing to do with football at all and look like an Amazon wish list of the person behind Pinterest. Speaking of which…The two main boards are managed by multiple people, people who do not look to be affiliated with the NFL. On the “NFL” board, these accounts are also pinning.
And on the “NFL Store” board, these two accounts have been added as managers.
Who are these people and how are they representative of the NFL? Is this is an NFL Official account at all? And what do you know … This website, note the address – nfloffical.org – and the random Pinterest accounts behind it appear to be the very unofficial NFL organization presenting themselves as the real National Football League.
FUMBLE! Wow. I cannot possibly be the first person who has followed this train of thought.
The NFL needs to get a handle on this – and quick. This nflofficial.org account has accumulated 15,570 followers (people who likely believe that this is the real NFL account). NFL Official, the largest of accounts with “NFL” in their name, is completely misrepresenting the league. Essentially, the NFL has NO presence on Pinterest. The NFL is SO missing an opportunity to woo its female fans via a major social network dominated by women.
How can the NFL get set up on Pinterest and truly connect with female fans? Here are a few of the boards I would set up:
- One board per team (and work with each team’s digital media director to insist that all 32 teams are following a similar Pinterest strategy so that repins are stategized).
- NFL News (linking back to the NFL site and the blog and news stories)
- NFL Players (stories featured in any publication or news outlet)
- NFL Moms (Think Campbell’s soup)
- NFL Biggest Fans (Feature fans from around the league)
- Together We Are Football (Feature the stories of fans as on the site. Let most likes, repins, comments help decide who goes to the SB.)
- NFL History (great old photos from the archives)
- NFL Films (also from the archives)
- NFL Fantasy Football (feature what’s happening in the leagues)
- NFL Store (general products)
- NFL Women’s Style
- NFL Men’s Style
- NFL Kid’s Style
- Homegating (term pulled from the Bloomberg article)
- NFL Sponsors (always good to place nice)
- Superbowl Champions
- Superbowl History
- Football Movies
- NFL Guest Pinner Week #1(this could be a contest and feature one new pinner each week)
….I could go on, but I think you get the idea. The pins of each of these boards would strategically link back to nfl.com, the NFL store, sports publications, etc. Of course, the account would repin, comment and use hashtags just as strategically. And all of this effort is measurable. Through web analytics and even Pinterest’s analytics. Is the Marie Claire insert measurable? How much will the TV spots cost? How will the NFL measure the direct impact of a TV spot?
It’s almost inconceivable that the NFL has completely ignored Pinterest and even worse that some totally random people (who don’t even appear to be football fans) have intercepted the NFL brand on the network. It’s 3rd and goal, NFL. Will you take it into the endzone for a touchdown? I’m always wooed when my team scores.
(Feature image directly from the Bloomberg article: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-09-05/how-the-nfl-woos-female-fans)
When a high-profile person posts something stupid on social media and then gets “caught,” it seems the only excuse on the table lately is, “It wasn’t me, it was hackers.” Yawn. Who actually believes this excuse? Who ever did?
The latest to offer up this all-to-common excuse is young NHL player, Tyler Seguin. He was just traded to the Dallas Stars. The tweet in question? “Only steers and queers in Texas.” You can read more about the what the 21-year-old tweeted HERE.
Of course, he deleted his tweet, and the team has “addressed” Seguin as well as issued the obligatory, “This, in no way, represents the organization, blah blah blah,” statement. In addition to the standard apology and clarification, the Stars also included, “…and we’ll continue to work on educating our players regarding the importance of their conduct on all forms of social media.” Work on educating? That’s a fancy way of saying, “try.”
An athletic organization that doesn’t take the time to educate – not attempt or try or wish to but actually really sits their athletes down for some hard core PR and communication training – deserves the heat of the spotlight when their players behave irresponsibly. Those organizations should not be allowed to issue the empty “it was hackers” or “we’ve addressed the issue” excuses if they are not going to invest the time and effort to protecting their brand by equipping their front-line ambassadors with proper tools to represent the organization professionally, blades on or off.
My favorite quote from Seguin, not only expresses what TRULY happens when he’s online, but likely what happens when a lot of athletes and others decide it is time to tweet. “…sometimes I forget that I’m on Twitter in front of a quarter-million people and not just talking to my friends. It’s just another learning experience.” That is the mentality we are dealing with. And that is a behavioral shift that can easily be changed with good old fashioned education.
Beaming Bohemian consults with university athletic departments to establish social media guidelines, educate staff, coaches and student-athletes, and implement strategic communication and content plans which work to achieve positive and purposeful goals.
You’ve probably caught the news by now about the NFL banning what amounts to any kind of purse, backpack or bag into stadiums. If you missed it, you can read up HERE, HERE or even HERE. If you want to read the entire policy published by the NFL itself, you can click HERE. There’s also a friendly website which lists FAQs: http://www.nfl.com/qs/allclear/index.jsp
Understandably, people are upset. Women are particularly upset. The policy states that women are allowed to bring a clutch purse that is no bigger than a hand. Heck, photography enthusiasts should be pretty peeved, too, since camera bags are not allowed, either. Did you want to make your game experience a family outing? Sorry, diaper bags (or kid-bags) aren’t allowed. Backpacks? Uh-uh.
I understand that the NFL would like to create a safe environment for their fans. But turning stadiums into something worse than a TSA nightmare is probably not the answer. This is a sure way to alienate fans all together. Or maybe they want to turn the stadiums into a big bowl of drunk dudes? I understand the intention and reasoning for safety, however I do not agree with their decisions.
I’ve been impressed with the NFL in the last couple of years with their efforts to make football a female-friendly sport. They even launched a terrific site called the Women’s Resource Initiative. You’ll find that at: https://www.nflplayerengagement.com/wri.
So with these welcomed efforts to be more inclusive of a wider audience, I cannot understand why the NFL would institute a policy that is so extremely exclusive. It is hassle enough, and expensive enough, to enjoy a game in person. All the NFL has done by establishing the “no bag” policy is give every single fan one more reason to stay home. And is the NFL certain that come the start of the season, all fans will have gotten the memo? What chaos will there be in those first games when people bring their bags, unaware of the new policy?
By the way, you can still buy tote bags through the NFL shop (which you won’t be able to bring inside the stadium). And no surprise here – clear, branded tote bags are already for sale! http://www.nflshop.com/All_Clear
I’m curious how the fan backlash will affect this policy. I’m sure we’ll see some changes.