MLS season kicks off with explosive social content

When Major League Soccer opened their season this weekend, they welcomed two new teams: Minnesota United FC and Atlanta United FC. And though overall attendance was down 4% from last year’s opening weekend, it was still explosive.

Atlanta recorded the fourth-largest soccer attendance worldwide for the weekend with 55,297—a sell-out crowd. They were beaten only by Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, and Manchester United—not too bad for a franchise that did not exist until 2016 and was playing their first game in history.

But that wasn’t Atlanta’s only triumph. Less than 24 hours after their first game, Atlanta United had overtaken the Seattle Sounders as the most-followed MLS Twitter account. With a current follower count of 375K, Atlanta United FC are leading the pack in a league that operates heavily on social media.

The MLS has embraced social media, and it has embraced them in turn. In 2016, they were named the fastest-growing league on social media, with a 95% increase in followers in 2016, and a 690% increase since 2013.

As a relatively new league, the MLS is still trying to cement itself as one of the top sports leagues in the United States, and they’re doing this through social media. The MLS has an opportunity that no other major sports league has had—essential growth in the social media age.

The MLS is the first league to come of age in the era of social media. Each club puts a heavy emphasis on creating original content for social media, focused on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram.

To celebrate the opening weekend of the MLS, clubs and brands took to social media. Let’s take a look at some of the best content.

MLS

Using the hashtag for the weekend, #MLSisBack, the official Major League Soccer Instagram account got a little meta. In a unique, interesting graphic, the league reminded followers of the two games on March 5th—an event the league calls “Soccer Sunday”.

This graphic that goes beyond the basic photoshop filter or hype video is an excellent example of the innovative work the MLS can do on social media. With such a strong presence, the league consistently churns out creative original content.

Don't worry, there's more ⚽️. #MLSisBack #ORLvNYC – 5pm ET on @espn #ATLvNY – 7:30pm ET on @fs1

A post shared by Major League Soccer (@mls) on

adidas

As the official jersey sponsor of the MLS, there was no doubt that adidas would do something to celebrate the opening weekend of the season. In a video talking about the power of numbers, adidas used star players to highlight some of the new kits for the 2017 season.

ESPN FC

ESPN is the first of the hype videos on this list, but is far from the last. ESPN is one of the three networks currently under contract to air MLS matches in the United States. The network showed highlight reel goals from last season, culminating in the Seattle Sounders lifting their first MLS Cup.

Atlanta United FC

Atlanta is one of the two newest MLS teams, and as said above, it was a good weekend for them. Even though they lost to the New York Red Bulls, they sold out a 55,000 seat stadium and became the most-followed MLS side on Twitter.

Their social media following clearly isn’t a fluke, because they capped off the weekend by releasing one of the best hype videos in a long time. Atlanta already has one of the strongest social media presences in the MLS, and it can only go up from here.

Chicago Fire

This year, the Chicago Fire are celebrating their 20th season in the MLS. To commemorate the occasion, the Fire created a video to celebrate their history. After winning the MLS Cup in their first season in 1998, the Fire have struggled to find the large fan base of some of the other teams. Nevertheless, they continue to create quality content on social media.

Colorado Rapids

This past week, the Colorado Rapids used social media to highlight their fan events. On March 1st, the team hosted a season kick-off event where fans could interact, take part in social media activities, and see the players model the team’s new jerseys.

They used social media as a second platform for the event. A player from the team, Jared Watts, Periscoped the event from his perspective, showing the exciting atmosphere of the room.

Columbus Crew SC

Columbus was the founding team in the MLS. In this weekend’s hype video, they highlighted the history of the club and the passion of the fans in a short video backed by a Columbus chant. Though they took the video in a different direction than Atlanta, they kept it exciting and fun in sticking to some of classic hallmarks of a hype video.

DC United

One of DC United’s most unique social media offerings from the opening weekend was an in-game post. They created short video—more like GIFs—that gave updates on the match, showing the score and time of the update. They posted these updates across multiple platforms, creating a refreshing change from the usual photo update.

HT! Level at the break | @dclottery #mlsisback #DCU #DCvSKC

A post shared by D.C. United (@dcunited) on

FC Dallas

FC Dallas gave one of their two goals the Hollywood treatment on Instagram. By slowing down the footage and adding more close up shots, they showcased a great goal in a way that can’t be seen on television.

Although the video is rather basic, it highlights the importance of social media for the MLS. Clubs are able to use their platforms to create content original content—something fans can’t find anywhere else.

I feel it coming. #DTID

A post shared by FC Dallas  (@fcdallas) on

Houston Dynamo

In their season hype video, the Houston Dynamo focused on their fans. The video shows the diversity of the fanbase, the unique atmosphere of Texas, and exciting moments from the team. Even though this is another hype video, it shows what makes the team unique—an essential task when so many clubs are available to fans on social media.

LA Galaxy

The LA Galaxy—5-time MLS Cup Champions—once again showed the rest of the MLS how it’s done. In a video reminiscent of the MLS’s Instagram, the Galaxy counted down the season, celebrated their achievements, and showcased the history of the team in a wholly creative, fun way.

1 day… ????✨ #LAvDAL

A post shared by LA Galaxy (@lagalaxy) on

Minnesota United FC

The second of two new MLS teams, Minnesota United wasted no time in upping their social media game. Their live-tweeting graphics were excellent, particularly their goal GIF. Minnesota made their game live-tweet engaging and fun to look at, and many teams could learn from them.

Montreal Impact

The Montreal Impact took a page out the NFL’s playbook when they released a video of their starting eleven. The video features each starter saying their name and hometown, and it highlights the diversity of the team in a way that’s much more interesting that a tweet with the line-up.

New England Revolution

The New England Revolution used social media to release long-form video content. In a 4 minute, 30 second video, the team’s senior staff writer previewed the season, featuring video of the coach and players.

New York City FC

New York City FC took social media to a new, innovative place when they released a post-game presser for the fans. The team’s head coach, Patrick Vieira, answered fan questions about the team’s performance and future.

New York City Red Bulls

When they weren’t beating Atlanta, the New York City Red Bulls spent their weekend interacting with fans. From retweeting international fans to answering questions to sniping back at fan jabs, the team highlighted one of the best aspects of social media—the closeness to the fanbase.

Orlando City FC

Orlando City’s weekend was a celebration of their new stadium, and social media played a big part in this. Along with stunning photos of the new venue, the team posted video of the march to the stadium. Their use of social media made the day as interactive as possible, drawing in fans that couldn’t be at the game.

Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union’s Instagram is a celebration of subtlety, and an example of the lesser-used side of sports social media. The account features artsy, well-composed photos that celebrate the game and the players while also providing information and updates about the team.

Tonight. 9:30. TCN. You ready to #DOOP?

A post shared by Philadelphia Union (@philaunion) on

Portland Timbers

One of the MLS’s most popular teams used social media to share their in-game experience with the rest of the internet. In a time lapse, the team’s Twitter showed the amazing tifo of the Timbers Army—a fan organization famous for their passion.

Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake also used social media to get creative with their starting eleven. Before the game, Salt Lake used Periscope to broadcast Head Coach Jeff Cassar announcing and explaining the day’s line-up choices.

San Jose Earthquakes

The San Jose Earthquakes built excitement for the season with a video featuring the team’s players. The players describe the game they’re most excited for this season in a 50 second video. It’s short, sweet content designed for easy consumption.

Seattle Sounders

The Seattle Sounders chose to keep it brief with a GIF. In the GIF, Osvaldo Alonso holds the MLS Cup, welcoming the 2017 season and the challenges that come with it. This is prime social media content—it gets across the message in as little time and space as possible.

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City also used social media to share their live events. The team hosted a free season kick-off party the week leading up to the game, featuring players, coaches, activities, and a fan march. The team shared the fan march in an epic way on Instagram.

Oh when the wiz, go marching in ???? #WeTogether

A post shared by Sporting Kansas City (@sportingkc) on

Toronto FC

After a heartbreaking finish to last season, Toronto FC showed their hunger to get going in an incredible hype video. With fire, smoke, and birds of prey, the team created some absolutely top-notch content.

The Reds (3/3)

A post shared by Toronto FC (@torontofc) on

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Sports social media is often on top of new features, and the Vancouver Whitecaps took advantage of the newest Instagram feature by sharing their photos in an album. The album featured moments from their first game in a better format, grouping them together instead of flooding the feeds of followers.

2017 MLS Opener ✔️ #VWFC #OurAllOurHonour

A post shared by Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@whitecapsfc) on

About author

Ellen Larson
Ellen Larson 22 posts

Ellen is an intern for Snack Media and contributor to Digital Sport. Follow her on Twitter @Ellen_Larson.

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