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Volume 24 No. 137
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Social Studies: Minnesota Super Bowl Committee's Laney Austin On Engaging Fans

Laney Austin (@MNSuperBowl2018) joined the Minnesota Super Bowl Committee as Digital Media Coordinator after working in crisis communications. It is an experience that may prove beneficial because of all of the elements involved with the Super Bowl. She said, “With the Super Bowl, we know a lot of things are going to happen and we can plan around it. Having that background in crisis communications and knowing that things are going to come up that you are not expecting teaches you a different way to approach things and to do your best to plan for what could go right and the expectation that something may go wrong.” Austin said that she communicates with the NFL regularly and the league, for the most part, has given over control of its @SuperBowl account. That is a long way from when she joined the committee in ’15. Austin said, “On the second day I was here, I secured all of the channels under probably fifty different names -- anything people might try to copy. The first thing we launched was our Facebook page.”

Must-follow: P.J. Fleck is a great Twitter follow. He speaks his mind in a really interesting way.
Favorite app: Twitter because I’m a news junkie.
Average time per day on social media: Probably at least 10 hours.

Ramping up content as Super Bowl approaches:
Starting from right before San Francisco, it’s been a different experience because we didn’t have a lot to put out there. For the last two years we’ve been building that initial audience. The first year, we waited until right after Houston to push stuff. It’s been activating channels, building audience and lately we’ve been ramping up our content in terms of appealing to locals in Minnesota and also out-of-state visitors.

Focus without knowing teams playing in game
My digital team and I are very focused on following the trends. I have never been as engaged as I am this year on how the teams are doing. We follow the power rankings and all of the NFL-produced rankings. We try to the best of our abilities to lean on the teams that are doing well. We might be focused on engaging content for people in Philadelphia who might be planning a trip to Minnesota. Besides the football aspect, we lean on the events that will be going on.

Learning from past Super Bowl hosts
The Houston host committee has been super great. My counterpart really showed me how they set up their social media command center and there were big takeaways on how we could do a similar commend center, but with our own spin on it.

What will be unveiled
Our big initiative will be the social media command center at the Super Bowl festival. It will start Jan. 26 and wrap up Feb. 5. That’s going to be the main hub for social and digital interaction. We are working with a great company from Minneapolis, the Social Lights, and we are partnering with them to give really the first interactive experience.

Activating the social platforms
We launched everything progressively, and they all strike a different balance. Our Instagram channel is a great example of what we wanted to focus on. It’s all about sharing beautiful images and really great captivating content. As much as I enjoy looking at sports photography, this platform is great at showing how beautiful different parts of Minnesota are, and we dedicated that platform to local photographers.

Spreading the word
Two years out, there’s not a whole lot of interest in your Super Bowl. We really focused on local communities. We’ve been giving speeches to rotaries, chambers around the state, and in every one we made sure to include our social channels. It’s been a lot of relying on relationships we have and people who have helped us along the way.

Laying foundation or driving on the road
I sense that we are getting closer. Having been on the team for a while, I never really thought we’d get to this point and now that we are here it’s full-steam ahead.

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