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Volume 23 No. 13
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Kings seeing value in Instagram ‘effect’ as Stories-telling device

In recent discussions with fans, digital staffers for the Los Angeles Kings found that Snap lenses were their most requested social media feature. So when Instagram quietly released its new augmented reality feature called “effects” to all content creators this August, the team knew there’d be fan interest in a custom-designed helmet and jersey filter that could be shared to Instagram Stories, allowing fans to post images looking like they’re wearing those items. 

 

Since a soft launch two weeks ago, the team has tracked more than 10,000 uses of the three jersey options, with the home one being the most popular. It’s believed that the Kings are the first NHL franchise to publicly debut a custom-designed helmet and jersey filter as part of Facebook’s announcement. 

“This gives Instagram more life,” said Pat Donahue, senior director of marketing and digital media for the Kings, about unveiling the new interactive feature, which at press time the team was in the process of promoting via a ticketing giveaway. 

A new augmented reality feature allows fans to dress like the players.
Photo: Instagram
A new augmented reality feature allows fans to dress like the players.
Photo: Instagram
A new augmented reality feature allows fans to dress like the players.
Photo: Instagram

The club worked with locally based design agency Fishermen Labs, which designed the filters through Facebook’s Spark AR platform and previously partnered with the Kings to create content for Snap. Donahue explained that the team and sponsor Adidas are in preliminary sponsorship conversations about how the brand could further support promoting additional Kings jerseys, including for its 1990s Heritage nights in 2020 and the upcoming Stadium Series on Feb. 15. 

“How can we do something that is really cool and interesting that fans will use, and how can we naturally tie in a brand that doesn’t become abrasive?” Donahue said. 

Marissa Mast, director of social media strategy for the Arizona Coyotes, said Instagram is now more about lifestyle content, with the team’s philosophy that it wants its feed to “always feel like a friend.” It’s not just about the hockey, she said, but rather showcasing who players are off the ice. To that end, the team has invested in three part-time or freelance photographers, a new social media specialist and two interns, combined with a production staff, to bring the Coyotes to life.  

The Coyotes have focused on leveraging Instagram Stories, in particular, to encapsulate the full game-day experience in chronological order and mirror a traditional storytelling strategy. The disappearance of content after 24 hours has created a sense of urgency for why someone should be incentivized to engage, Mast said. 

Like Arizona, the Winnipeg Jets have seen the value in devoting more attention toward Instagram’s aesthetics. For example, in years past, the team posted a game-day Instagram template with opponent and broadcast information. According to Drew Wilkinson, director of digital, it regularly was the worst-performing post. For this current season, the Jets revamped the creative to a player photo combined with some animation as the information splices into the post. There’s been a “significant uptick in engagement,” Wilkinson said, with the new approach.

He also agreed with Mast’s characterization of Instagram as more of lifestyle-centric channel that can take fans beyond the game. 

“If we’re able to capture those images, that’s our highest-performing content on Instagram,” he said.