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The NFL Woos Female Fans – Just Not on Pinterest

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:

NFL Pinterest Page


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.

NFL Pinner

NFL Pinner 2

And on the “NFL Store” board, these two accounts have been added as managers.

NFL Pinner 3

NFL Pinner 4

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.

NFL Official dot ORG


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)
  • Tailgating
  • 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


What Crock-Pot Could Have Cooked Up

This tweet landed in my stream today:

And it immediately got me thinking about what Crock-Pot could have cooked up for marketing this awesome new product!

I mean … look at that! Your favorite team’s colors and logo is on a Crock-Pot! Die-hard football fans are likely to be the same people who consume the most chili on this planet. How many times have you been to a football party where chili was served?  Crock-Pot, the NFL and chili are nearly a branding match made in heaven!!!

And so, I keep scratching my head as to why the release of this perfectly branded product is so ill-timed and flying very under the radar. My marketing instincts were shouting at me…Here’s what I would have done, if I were the marketing guru at Crock-Pot:

Once the approval from the NFL was received to use the team colors and logos on a crockpot, I would have then reached out to each team’s Community Relations Director. Together, we would have held chili contests in the summer time, keeping the buzz going and engaging fans for all teams in the off season. For each team, a winning chili recipe would have been selected to accompany the team Crock-Pot. So if you bought the San Diego Chargers Crock-Pot, the San Diego fan’s winning chili recipe would be inside. Wait, there’s more!

The product would have been released shortly before pre-season with an ad-campaign featuring the chili recipe winners from each team. Crock-Pot could have partnered with S&W to feature the award-winning ingredients of football’s chili recipes (side note, but still a good opportunity).  Through the season, there would be chili cook-offs across the nation between the recipe winners featured in the team-themed Crock-Pot. Could have been set up like a tournament where the brackets are put up online and you follow your team’s chili recipe winner through the brackets. That would have led to a Superbowl Sunday chili cook-off finale extravaganza to determine which team’s fan had the winning recipe in all the league. Imagine the commercials. You could end up with some rare “live commercials” campaign during the Superbowl.

The social media marketing, promotion and engagement opportunities would be endless. Voting could have occurred online, in addition to the live chili cook-off events. People who try the included recipes could give reviews, share photos, etc. Fan participation surrounding the competition on the field and for the Crock-Pot chili challenge would spike. Gazillions of NFL Crock-Pots would have been sold. And there would be millions of satisfied bellies full of chili.

Really – how tough is it NOT to see the possibilities here? This is common sense to me. What a huge opportunity missed by Crock-Pot and the NFL. I mean, REALLY! If you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, get out of the Crock-Pot!

How would you have marketed this product?


A Strong Brand Identity Recruits the Right Members


Membership Recruitment: A Strong Brand Identity Recruits the Right Members

This article originally was written for and published in the Club Membership and Marketing Magazine, an online resource for Private Club professionals. The article appears in full below, as the magazine is subscription only. The Magazine is a resource provided by PCMA, the Professional Club Marketing Association.
In a world that has gone almost completely digital, it is easy to get caught in the online current of promoting your Club through various social channels. It’s a natural tendency to advertise the Club’s events, golf tournaments and membership programs, to show the public how great it is to be a Member at your Club. Without doubt, Private Club Membership is rewarding on many levels. However, before you post another status update, craft that 140 character tweet, or share another photo, take a few steps to make sure you are recruiting the right Members for your Club.

Review your Club’s core values
Every Club most likely has a vision or a mission statement somewhere. Perhaps it’s written on a plaque which hangs in the library or it may be collecting dust within the founding documents box. Where ever that may be, it is time to find it and read it. Your Club’s vision is based on the core values of your Club’s brand. It’s a good idea to discover what those are, too. If you haven’t reviewed the Club’s core values and vision in a while, then it is time for a re-education. This is the heart of your brand. This is the foundation for all of your communications. And the Members you want to attract should connect with those core values. The Club’s values are the most significant component of your brand identity. Your Membership is the embodiment of your brand identity.

Take a temperature on your Club Culture
Is your Club culture in-line with the core values of the Club? If your programming has fallen a bit out of touch with the vision of the Club, then work with the executive team to get it back on track. Determine what events best promote the vision of the Club. Tweak some of the less successful events to better represent your values. For example, if your Club is founded upon being a family-friendly retreat and you have very few kid-friendly events, they you may want to add activities that kids will love to the appropriate festivities.

Be a good listener
Most of a Club’s advertising and promotions tend to be all about the Club and what the executive team wants or needs to push. But let’s change that focus to be more about what Members and prospective Members want and need to hear. Do your programs truly add value to their life? In what way? Does it offer a solution? Make their life easier? These are some things to consider. Your brand messaging should definitely be infused with your core values, but it should also address your Members’ core concerns. Online, it’s easier than ever to understand what people want. They talk all the time! This is a key step in finding prospective Members who have a need for your Club. Listening to what people want, need and are concerned about will help you reach out to them with all the great answers wrapped up in a Membership at your Club. Spend more time listening online to discover who is a match for your Membership.

Choose the right channels
While you might love posting every event and program to Facebook, your Members and prospects may be checking their LinkedIn profiles three times a day and Facebook only three times per week. Part of listening is also learning where your Members are living online. You will better connect with your audience if you find them, versus them having to search for you. Learn and understand your Members’ social habits to better promote your Club culture and find new Members who are a good fit.

When you and the staff are living and breathing the Club’s core values, you’ll find the culture warmly reflects this vision, the Members embody it and that your communications reach prospects who want and need what you offer because you address their core concerns. This is the strong brand identity that will recruit the right Members for your Club…and keep them.

Shanna’s private club experience includes an award winning role as Member Relations Director at City Club on Bunker Hill, a ClubCorp Club in downtown Los Angeles, California. Shanna is pleased to be presenting Private Club IPO: Go Public With Your Club Culture at the PCMA Convention in Las Vegas on September 25th, 2012.

Redskins Need a Lesson in Branding

If you follow the #smsports feed on Twitter, you may have caught the discussions about Tim Tebow’s move from the Denver Broncos to the NY Jets during the NFL trades.  You may also have caught some buzz about a particular tweet that appeared on the @Redskins feed today. The tweet that started the discussions began with a comment about Tebow’s move:


[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Redskins/status/182526346185015296″]


Was that the view of the team? Everyone who works for the Redskins agreed that it was an awkward fit? Collective opinion? Most of us could see that it was not the Redskins organization that held that opinion, but the person in charge of the Twitter account, Gary Fitzgerald. So when @dcsportsblog called him out on the comment, the Redskins feed posted:


[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Redskins/status/182531179784847360″]


And that was exactly the point. Just an opinion.  On a corporate, team or business Twitter account, personal opinions of the tweeter have no place in the feed.  This echoes the GM scandal awhile back when an employee made a nasty comment about the driving capabilities of his fellow citizens, a tweet which appeared to be from GM itself. Major hiccup which led to the firing of the employee who tweeted the statement.

Those of us who were chatting about the Redskins comments agreed that the team had not only misstepped by tweeting a personal opinion as representation of the view of the organization, but also really missed an opportunity to bring their 93k fans into the conversation.  Instead of letting Gary tweet his personal opinions (which weren’t even positive), why not stimulate conversation with a simple question, “What do you think about Tim Tebow’s move to the Jets?” Redskins fans react, discuss and grow affinity for their own team and the Redskins positively impact engagement. Win.

It was clear that Gary picked up our tweets, as we all made sure to include the @Redskins handle in most of our conversations.  A few hours later, this comment appeared:


[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Redskins/status/182569952820211713″]


Again, a misguided employee tweets something inappropriate for the brand. The Redskins need to yank that computer away from Gary Fitzgerald and let him understand that he needs to stop injecting Redskins communication with his own personality.  The above tweets were not edgy, informative nor entertaining. The Redskins allowed the person in charge of Twitter to share his personal opinions as though they were the opinions of the team and everyone within the Redskins organization.

What is clear, then is that the Redskins have lost their grip on their brand’s core values. They do not have a clear brand message and certainly, they have no social media guidelines for employees to follow. It looks like Gary runs redskins.com, which also makes me question who they’ve assigned to communicate their brand messaging. Is the webmaster the right person to manage the Twitter feed? What value does the Redskins organization place on social media if they just toss the duties to the web department? Why not hire a branding, marketing or communications professional?

More important than the lack of internal organization and training, the Redskins simply don’t understand that Twitter provides more than a forum for information and entertainment. They could have used the Tebow news to their advantage to spark dialogue with fans, and shed some positive light on their brand. Sure, they would have been talking about Tim Tebow and the Jets and possibly even Denver and Manning, but they would have engaged their fans on the topic of football during a crucial time in the off-season. There were so many opportunities missed here, mistakes made, and that’s why their comments came into focus – for all the wrong reasons.

My course of action for the Redskins?

1. Do an organization-wide branding exercise so all employees are aware of the brand’s identity and messge

2. With all employees, players and coaches, provide social media education and training

3. Consult with the marketing and communications staff to integrate social media throughout their marketing and business plans.

4. Reassign the Twitter responsibilities to someone who understands that they speak for the brand, and that every letter they type needs to be in-line with brand messaging. “Just an opinion” is never something we should see from a brand like the Redskins.



Quantifying Social Media Management

As a start-up company, I find I am hungry for information pertaining to my business.  There is plenty out there, just waiting to be discovered.  I’ve found articles on marketing, media and communications which range from the very informative to the totally bizarre. Everyone has a method, a tip, a trick and an opinion.

I was delighted to see an ad pop up on Facebook which promoted a free social media seminar.  Goodness knows there is always room for more knowledge on this topic.  And so I decided to sign up to see how the big boys make a presentation, what strategies they offer and also learn how they structure their services.

I was pleased that during a very rapid announcement of facts, figures and trends I followed right along and actually anticipated the direction of the presentation.  I did learn a few helpful bits of advice which I am already implementing in a new client’s project.

At the end of the seminar, we were handed a folder including company information and price sheets.  $4995 per month will buy you a very slick social media management program.  But I had to stop with the outline of what you get in your package.  Example:

30 Posts per month (Twitter and Facebook)

4 Blog Posts

4 re-tweets, re-posts, of industry relevant content

1 optimized press release per month

2 external posts per month

Twitter follow campaign


As soon as I read the list I thought, “How can you quantify social media services in this way?”  Surely there is no possible cookie-cutter formula of what makes a successful campaign, so how can a large media firm whip up the perfect batch of posts, tweets and re-tweets? What if there is some major event in my industry that warrants more than 30 posts?  What if I launch two products in the same month, do I still only get that one press release?  And if the industry is posting lots of useful information I’d like to share with my clients, does one re-tweet a week cover it?

While some structure needs to be provided to a client who is outsourcing social media marketing, I just cannot see how following such guidelines lays a foundation for a successful campaign.  Social media is anything but predictable and rigid, nor does it really play by any set of rules. So how is it that some companies feel they can wrangle a strategy down to a one-size fits all formula?

What are your thoughts on this type of packaged program?


Facebook Deals

Today Facebook announced that San Diego was one of just five cities chosen to help launch the new DEALS ON FACEBOOK program.

Facebook says, “A few months ago we launched Check-In Deals, to help you get special offers when you check in at local businesses from your mobile. Today we’re going a step further and testing a new feature to help you find fun experiences to share with your favorite people: Deals on Facebook.

Initially, Deals will be available to people in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego, and San Francisco and we hope to expand this test to other cities in the future.”

To acces deals, scroll down the left menu bar on your profile page.  Clicking “Deals” will show you a page with all that’s on offer, including messages letting you know which friends have liked that deal.


Facebook is counting on the popularity of the LIKE button and word-of-mouth advertising to promote what deals available and for users to see what their friends are liking. I’ve already subscribed because I am interested to see what offers pop up and admire Facebook’s strategy.  It’s convenient, too because I don’t have to go to another website like GroupOn or LivingSocial to see what offers are available in my community.

What I don’t like about the deals program on the Facebook platform is that it gives Facebook just that much more information about me.  For small businesses hoping to gain better exposure and not go broke on traditional advertising methods, participating in the Facebook Deals should prove a huge advantage.

Have you subscribed yet?  Will you use the deals offered or are you leery of FB knowing too much about you? Will you promote your small business through Facebook?


Social Media Report

Some people just don’t get social media.  And that’s ok, because the format is constantly evolving and changing and those of us who are enthusiastic participants like to try new ideas and see what sticks. But when you are attempting to make an authoritative report on the effectiveness of social media and purchase power, you probably better have a faint clue how social media works, and perhaps an inkling of how much power the medium has when used effectively.

THE PURCHASE PATH OF ONLINE BUYERS For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals was released today by Forrester Research in cooperation with GSI Commerce.  The report comes to the conclusion that “The truth is that social tactics were largely ineffective in driving sales.”

I’m surprised that this report is receiving the attention that it is, given how flawed the reporting methods are. A few missed details with this report.

1.  Social Media

The report fails to answer some key questions. Namely: What social media outlets were engaged?  What messages were posted? How often were sites updated? Did retailers respond to mentions or did they ignore customer contacts? Did all 15 of the retailers use social media in the same exact manner, or was there a vast difference in tactics?

2. Timing

The report says, “Data was captured from November 12, 2010 to December 20, 2010. Thanksgiving weekend data was captured from 12 a.m. on November 25, 2010, through 11:59 p.m. on November 28, 2010. Cyber Monday data was captured on November 29, 2010. ”

So on November 12th, 18th, December 3rd and 13th for example, what time was the data captured? Was the data not being captured 24/7 between 11/12/2010 and 12/20/2010?  What reasoning was behind the choice of that time period (other than measuring effect on holidays sales)?  Is this a sufficient time period to determine effectiveness? Were social media updates being posted between working hours only or throughout a 24 hour period? Were messages posted every day?

3. Collection

The report offers measurement as “social media alone” as a touchpoint prior to purchase and focuses on the ineffectiveness of social media. If Forrester actually understood social media, they would understand that a well planned online marketing strategy would never consider social media alone, but a smart combination of online tactics. I don’t think any of us who are in the habit of helping businesses use social media would ever recommend a social media alone strategy, but would certainly insist that a no social media policy would in fact negatively impact sales as well as brand image and customer retention.

Clearly this report raises more questions than it provides answers.  And the few findings that are stated are so far off the mark, it’s laughable.  In fact, I would call it ineffective in driving social media strategies.


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