Top NHL Teams in Social Media

With the NHL Playoffs in progress we take a look at how the teams are performing in social media.

Using the Track Social platform we have analyzed NHL teams’ performance in the four essential categories – the Social Pillars – of social medial success: Presence, Audience, Engagement, and Buzz.

Here’s a look at the top 10 overall performers as of April 30, 2012 on the Track Social NHL Leaderboard with a special focus on how the top 5 are beating out the competition:

#5 Detroit Red Wings

Round 1 wasn’t kind to Detroit; their 4-1 loss to Nashville was a disappointing season-ender for Red Wings fans. And with almost 1.25 million Facebook Fans and over 166,000 Twitter Followers, that turns out to be quite a lot of disappointment. In fact, Detroit claims first place in the Audience category and comes in at number 5 in our Overall rankings.

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The Audience category measures the total number of ongoing relationships a brand has formed through Likes and Follows.

Founded as the Detroit Cougars in 1926, its proud history and deep roots have made it a Detroit institution with a fan base that’s now spread well beyond its region.

In fact, the Red Wings make a point of showing off just how far-flung Red Wing Nation really is. Their Facebook Fan of the Day post, highlights Red Wing pride all over the world – including this recent winner stationed in Afghanistan.

The Red Wings have also boosted audience numbers by giving away free T-shirts for new Twitter followers, and by hosting game day viewing parties where they sign up new fans – a great way to merge online and offline interaction.

#4 Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks rank number 4 in Overall Social Media success and number 2 in the Social Media Presence category.

Social Media Presence measures a team’s visibility online, how well established and active it is on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Establishing a dynamic online presence is the first step in capturing a social media audience.

Despite their Round 1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver’s solid performance across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, accounts for its high ranking in the Presence category. This is a testament both to the team’s social media strategy and Canucks’ fans’ loyalty.

Social Media success is never just a one-sided initiative – it’s a collaboration between the brand and the audience.

Social media gives teams an unprecedented opportunity to channel fans’ goodwill into positive franchise growth. That’s why connecting teams to fans through creative content, posts and updates across multiple platforms spurs engagement, which perpetuates audience interaction and sustains growth.

A simple Canucks’ Tweet from April 22nd sums up the collaborative spirit of successful social media engagement: “Watching the game outside of #Vancouver? Let us know where you’re at (restaurant? diner? bar?) with #canucksnation.”

#3 New Jersey Devils

With an Overall ranking of number 3, the Devils also score high in the all-important Engagement category.

Engagement is about how successful a team’s social media interactions are with consumers. In other words, when a team posts or tweets, does anybody care? Do Fans respond with comments, likes, and retweets, or are there crickets? It’s possible for a brand to rack up big numbers of Facebook Fans and still not capitalize on that audience if their online interactions fail to keep fans engaged.

Contests have always been a go-to strategy for drumming up consumer interest. But it’s increasingly important for contests to offer Fans more than just a worthwhile prize: some of the best engagement strategies give audiences a creative challenge as well.

The Devils Doodle Contest, invited fans to submit a drawing celebrating the Devils in the Playoffs. Fans could then vote on their favorites with the top ten finalists getting free tickets to the Fan Appreciation Game. (The Grand Prize winner gets season tickets next year and his or her design printed on Red Rally Towels.)

#2 St. Louis Blues

Having bested the Sharks in Round 1, the St. Louis Blues are exploiting their performance in the Playoffs to increase online engagement.

Though they have a ways to go in terms of overall audience numbers (about 240,000 Facebook fans), their performance in the Engagement category elevates them to the number two spot in the overall rankings.

St. Louis loads both their Facebook page and Twitter feed with video links to player interviews, highlights and analysis, establishing their social media presence as the go-to spot for Blues news.

St. Louis also gets a big engagement bump from posting Community Photos showcasing Blues pride all over St. Louis. These photo albums are big draws for LIKEs and help connect fans to the excitement of the playoffs.

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins

Despite their 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, when it comes to social media, the Pittsburgh Penguins are far and away the league champions. The Penguins take the number one spot in both the Engagement as well as the Buzz category.

Buzz is a measure of how much people are talking with, at, and about a brand in the Social Media Universe. Audience numbers and engagement scores definitely play into a brand’s Buzz, but so does the general level of chatter about all things related to a brand.

Pittsburgh maintains its number one spot by actively engaging its loyal fan base and continually recruiting new Fans and Followers: “If you aren’t following @pghpenguins on Twitter, you should fix that. We’re giving away THREE pairs of tickets today, an autographed Brooks Orpik jersey and a $500 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods. (We also have to point out that Pittsburgh’s Twitter logo is the absolute best.)

A recent Look-alike contest, a Fan of Day drawing and resolutely positive posts (a recent Happy Birthday post for Craig Adams racked up almost 7,000 LIKES) create a consistent message that perfectly supports the Penguins’ upbeat brand: “It’s a great day for Hockey.”

This is in direct contrast to another kind of social media branding currently embraced by the team that just knocked Pittsburgh out of the Playoffs…

The Philadelphia Flyers come in at number 6 on our Leaderboard, but they’re also noteworthy for turning their Facebook wall into a locker-room wall.

With posts that range from the sophomoric to the crude, the Flyers seem determined to prove that the “city of brotherly love” thing is meant to be ironic. Though the off-color posts are usually fan generated and are not “official” Flyers updates, the Flyers have the ability to sanction or remove posts as they see fit. But hey, they don’t call it Filth-adelphia for nothing.

Rounding out our top 10 list as of April 30 after #6 Philadelphia are:

#7 New York Rangers
#8 Boston Bruins
#9 Chicago Blackhawks
#10 Columbus Blue Jackets

Some notable absences from our top 10** include four teams currently battling it out in Round 2 of the Playoffs: the Los Angeles Kings, the Nashville Predators, the Phoenix Coyotes, and the Washington Capitals. Will these teams be able to spin playoff success into social media gold? Keep up to date on how all these teams are performing with Track Social’s NHL Leaderboard.

**This article was based on the Leaderboard as of Monday, April 30, 2012. Actual Leaderboard changes on an ongoing basis.

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