SBD/January 3, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

NFL Teams Adopt Snapchat As Marketing Tool With Hope Of Reaching Younger Fans

Teams such as the Saints use Snapchat to connect with fans directly
Saturday night’s Saints-Eagles NFC Wild Card game features a battle of the NFL’s new digital pioneers -- the first two franchises to adopt Snapchat as part of their social media arsenals. The latest craze in Smartphone messaging, Snapchat relays upwards of 400 million media messages, or “Snaps,” every day. The appeal to brands looking to tap into the platform is obvious: an unprecedentedly young user base, instant engagement and the opportunity to serve as a pioneer for the medium as a consumer-interaction tool. Saints Web/Social Media Manager Alex Restrepo said that the team since October has built up a following of over 28,500 users, at least 14,000 of whom view each individual Snap. He said that his most significant takeaway thus far has been the fans’ perception of the Snaps as personal messages from their favorite team. “You see people saying, ‘The Saints snapchatted me,’" Restrepo said. "We’re not really Snapchatting them; we’re just adding it to the story, and they’re seeing the story. But they see Snapchat as a personal messaging app, as opposed to being a social media outlet.” That sense of personal and private connection separates Snapchat from Facebook and other outlets, and Restrepo has tapped into that dynamic by having individual players reach out to the team’s following. He said, “We had (TE) Jimmy Graham give a video shout out to them. Sometimes the players even take the phone and do it themselves. When it’s a direct message from a player to the fan, I think that goes over well.” In addition to messages from players, the teams have used Snapchat to capture and share moments from team activities that fans usually do not experience. Restrepo has sent the Saints’ followers photos from practices, press conferences and the team’s locker room. Meanwhile, Eagles Digital & Social Media Dir Linda Thomas last month ran a “12 Days of Snapchat” series, featuring players at the team facility in holiday garb and Eagles gifts under a Christmas tree.

Eagles C Jason Kelce was part of the 12 Days of Snapchat
YOUTH MOVEMENT
: For Thomas, who said last month the Eagles had about 8,700 Snapchat followers, the ability to reach a younger subset of fans was among the top draws of Snapchat. The app’s most robust demographic is the 13-25 age range, a group that is not always easy to reach. Thomas said, “If we can get fans engaged while they’re young, it’s easier. If we can reach them in a media that works for them and that they can connect with, it just makes it all that much easier for them to carry the Eagles brand and what we’re looking for as far as fan engagement.” The Jets last month became the third NFL team to launch a Snapchat account, encouraging users to join with posts on the team’s other social media accounts. “Snapchat is unique since it demands that the user engage with the content, because it’s such a short-lived piece of content," Jets Senior Dir of Marketing and Communications Jessica Ciccone said. "So it’s really interesting in that way.”

WORD OF MOUTH: The Snapchat point people for all three teams stressed that the key to growing a Snapchat account is fostering word-of-mouth promotion. Unlike a Twitter feed or Facebook page, there is no direct way to link to a team’s Snapchat account. Restrepo: “It’s only on the phone. You have to say, ‘Add Saints in the Add Friends tab of the app.’” Other than “two or three” posts on traditional social platforms encouraging fans to add the team on Snapchat, Restrepo said that the Saints’ following can be attributed to fans telling fans. He said, “They dramatically increase on game days. People are with their friends and friends are talking about what we send and that’s when they add us.” He added that he believes fans taking and sharing screenshots is important in spreading the word. He said, “That’s the number that I want to see high, because if you take a print screen, that means you’re going to share it and help promote the account.”

SHOW ME THE MONEY
: The Saints last weekend launched their first Snapchat contest, which came before Snapchat dealt with a security breach that compromised usernames and phone numbers of millions of its users. The club asked entrants to screenshot the corresponding Snap, and e-mail it to the team for a chance to win a photo autographed by Graham. Restrepo said that in 24 hours, more than 3,500 fans took screenshots, and 3,700 sent e-mail entries. Restrepo added he believes the numbers “would do well when we pitch to a sponsor to get involved down the road.”
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