Two cases of American teams hitting the right notes on matchday social media

The weekend is always time for the best of sport on social media. There is actual sport to go on, and so everything feels that little bit less contrived.

Sports teams on social media should never be ruled simply by when they have games, of course. It’s absolutely necessary to stay involved in the conversation and make sure you engage your fans with stories, behind the scenes action and general chatter throughout the week and, indeed, the off-season periods. But there’s something about social media on matchdays that seems to capture the mood that little bit more.

Recently, American sports seems to have been dominated by non-sporting matters. Protests and social issues have come to the fore, something which is, frankly, unsurprising given the depth of feeling that both sport and politics can engender.

That’s difficult to convey on social media, though. It’s always hard to hit the right note at the best of times, but the possibility of over-egging, under-doing or generally being disrespectful to anyone is clearly heightened in such circumstances.

Last weekend, though, there were two posts that caught the eye in inventive ways.

One was from the College Football team the Florida Gators, who, upon the sad news that musician and icon Tom Petty had died, posted a video of their fans singing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ I Won’t Back Down. Something which combined a tribute to the departed legend with a fitting song to be played at a sporting event, the lyrics evoking what the fans want to see from their team.

The other was from MLB team the Washington Nationals, who hit the right note in a very different way.

Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about sponsorship in sport, and how teams can best monetise their own content. Some content teams produce can be irregular or infrequent – perhaps player of the month awards. Others can happen every day, news articles and even interviews. One that happens, potentially, multiple times a week, is the team’s starting lineup.

That seems like a perfect piece of content for a sponsor to take on: it happens frequently, and for a few minutes before every game, all eyes are on the team’s social media channels to see the lineup – a very important piece of information for fans and onlookers alike. It ties a brand not just with the club but with the athletes about to take to the field, too.

And at the weekend, the Nationals’ sponsorship with Coca-Cola seemed to, once again, hit the right note.

It took iconic pieces of the brand’s marketing, both old and new – the glass bottle and the personalised names on the label – and teamed it up with the players who were about to perform for their fans later that afternoon.

But interestingly, you have to look really quite closely to see any obvious Coke branding. That is, if you don’t take the bottles themselves and the font used on the labels as ‘branding’, though in a way they’re integral parts of the branding: they’re instantly recognisable as belonging to Coca-Cola and they’ve been cultivated by the brand for years. Yet rather than just bringing a consumer brand closer to the team, by using the first names of the players, fans were also brought a little closer to their lineup, too.

When it comes to social media on matchday, hitting the right note is always crucial, no matter what difficulties spring up around the game or even the team’s performance. Here are two cases of teams who seem to have got it right.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 709 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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