Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 26 No. 181
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

NHL Hopes Opendorse Partnership Grows Social Media Presence

The NHL is investing more in its player development strategy heading into the '19-20 season through a new multiyear partnership with athlete marketing platform opendorse. According to company CEO & co-Founder Blake Lawrence, the league is paying for access to licensing software, which all 31 teams and its players can utilize should they choose to opt in to the service. The partnership will assist the league in its two-fold strategy: creating more original content for its players as well as enabling better distribution of that media. NHL CMO Heidi Browning said the formal relationship will be critical in creating "an opportunity for more growth for our players," as well as driving more attention online for teams and the NHL. "We know we have these incredible athletes who are very relatable and friendly," she said. "We want to shine a spotlight on them and provide more storytelling both on and off the ice." Currently, 85% of the league's teams are using opendorse, Browning said, with others still weighing their options as the season kicks off next week. At this point, 110 players have been onboarded. The goal is that a third of the league's active players on social media will be onboarded and use the platform more frequently.

DEVILS IN THE DETAILS: The Devils during the '17-18 season were the first NHL team to work with opendorse, and Lawrence said the results proved fruitful. Some Devils players like LW Taylor Hall and former teammate Keith Kinkaid were among the tops in the NHL in terms of social media engagement and follower growth compared to all active players opendorse tracked that year. "There was some real proof in the data that the Devils' investment, having a plan for their players and a platform to execute, was rewarding," he said. He added it was during that season when the conversation initiated between opendorse and the league office. A third of the league opted into the service last season before the NHL formalized the new partnership. Prior to opendorse, the league had no formal relationship with a similar platform.

WORKING IN TANDEM: Teams that opt in will have an account manager at opendorse who will work in tandem with their digital and social strategists to onboard players and share best practices. They can then guide players individually to determine what type of content they would like to share across Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, effectively creating a customized content strategy. Players who choose to use the service will receive a text message with a piece of content from their team or the league's social player development department, who will share multimedia from marquee events such as Player Media Tour, All-Star Weekend and the Winter Classic, among others. Players can then decide to post or decline via a one-tap option. Editing the copy is also an available feature in the posting process.

BENEFITING FROM SOCIAL MEDIA: As Lawrence explained, players' access to opendorse will help them accomplish their objectives with social media: engage more directly with fans, establish an audience they can then monetize, support various charity efforts, impact the community or just showcase their personality online. "They have a window of opportunity to establish a relationship with an audience that will last them their entire life, but if they ignore that opportunity, then they're missing out on the best parts of being an athlete at a high level," Lawrence said.