A Strong Team Game - Lessons from the NHL on Social Media

Posted by Danny Wood

With the NHL preseason truly kicking off for Strutta’s Senior Developer and I today, it’s hard to think about anything other than hockey! What better time to look at a few things the NHL does well on social media, and share takeaways for your business?

Post enjoyable content to Instagram

Social Media Lessons from the NHL - Instagram

Take a look at the NHL’s Instagram account, and even if you’re not a hockey fan, you might find yourself scrolling through half a year’s content before you know it. The NHL does an excellent job of showing the lighter side of professional hockey, adding fun captions to game photos and taking advantage of video to recount enjoyable moments.

Takeaway: Although we don’t all have a squad of professional photographers following our “team” around and capturing enjoyable moments, we can all focus our Instagram on the fun aspects of our companies. Having a little fun with captions is a good idea too!

Bonus Takeaway: Occasionally, the NHL uses its Instagram account to invoke conversation (and therefore engagement) with fans. This recent post related to Stanley Cup runners up the Tampa Bay Lightning had higher then average engagement (likes and comments) - see it here.

Give users the website content they want

I’ve never been a big fantasy hockey person myself, but for many NHL fans, this is a huge part of the sport. The league understands this well, and answers the demand for statistics from fantasy hockey players with copious amounts of data and analysis available from the NHL.com website, all presented through an excellent User Interface.

Takeaway: When it comes to social content marketing, know what your brand’s fans want and give it to them! The statistics section of NHL.com was, no-doubt, a huge amount of work to implement, but the returns in terms of interest and traffic to the site.

Clearly communicate policy with team members/employees

The NHL faces a unique organizational challenge when it comes to social media; it has a huge number of employees (players) who are mostly young, and many of whom are interested in being active on Twitter, Instagram and other networks. This being said, many of them most likely aren’t sure what effective representation not only of their personal brands looks like, but of their team’s and the NHL’s as well.

Social Media Lessons from the NHL - Policy

As such, in 2011, the NHL instituted an excellent social media policy for all players that clearly spells out rules, guidelines and expectations for how players will use their accounts.

Takeaway: There are a few lessons with regards to social media policy from the NHL beyond just having a social media policy:

  • Make sure language is clear: The NHL’s social media policy clearly spells out what’s acceptable, what’s not, and what happens if a policy is violated
  • Communiate the policy effectively: Upon beginning in the league as rookies, all junior players are introduced to the policy during a special presentation
  • Institute the policy for good: The policy focuses on improving the name of the sport, through rules such as the prevention of criticizing the officials