NFL Keeps Up the Pressure on Twitter

This post is part of the Twitter for Brands Series, which features winning strategies from the top brand pages on Twitter and provides tips on how to emulate their successes.

Even in the offseason, after the players have cleared the gridirons, the National Football League is busy on social media, keeping fans in the zone and engaged for the coming season.

The NFL’s Twitter strategy is a tale of two brands.

Using separate handles – and completely different content approaches – one for the NFL Network and one for the actual league, the NFL uses the social medium to maintain its status as one of the most successful sports and media organizations in the world.

The League

Using something of a prevent defense, the NFL uses the forum to promote the league the best way they can – by not promoting it.

Rather, they market the teams and players that play within the league. After all, the fans of the teams are the ones who drive the league to record-breaking television ratings, stadium attendance and merchandise sales each year.

The handle has more than 3.5 million followers who are blitzed throughout the day — even during the off-season — with tweets that continually mention the separate team sites.

For instance, a May 31 tweet said “Brady has moved on from @Patriots‘ Super Bowl loss to @Giants.”

This is the social media version of the NFL’s basic mission: to serve as an umbrella association to organize and promote its members, while they operate as individual companies.

The most popular franchises – such as the Packers and the Steelers — have a couple hundred thousand followers.

The Network

More traditional content can be found on the NFL Network handle.

This is the outlet for the league’s cable television station, one of it’s growing profit centers.

It provides a mix of breaking NFL News – again, it’s a non-stop blitz even during the off-season – and scheduling information for the network.

Tweets like the recent “Friday Night Lights…Get ready for Arena Football Friday Night (8 pm ET)” are common every hour or so.

Twitter is also a good forum for the network to showcase its personalities, most of whom have their own Twitter handles and are busy tweeting away every time there’s a trade rumor or player scandal.

Sports wars

While football beats other American sporting associations consistently in the ratings each year, the battle for followers still appears to be playing out.

The NFL Network’s 318,000 followers beat basketball’s NBA TV (308,000 followers) and baseball’s MLB Network (193,000 followers).

However, the league itself is in second place among major league sports, boasting 3.5 million followers compared to the NBA’s 5.5 million and MLB’s 2.2 million.

These numbers are expected to grow across the board for all sports as Twitter’s popularity continues to grow, and the sport with the strongest advantage will be the one that engages its audience the most.

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