What Hockey Playoffs Can Teach You About Social Media Marketing

Well, here we are. My favorite (and most anxious) time of year. NHL Playoff Season! I grew up cheering for the Washington Capitals and with the addition of Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals have transformed DC Sports into the dynamic and exciting sports town that it is today. But, if you know our history, we have a tendency to exit early from the playoffs- even when we destroy the regular season. But, I digress. This post is about marketing strategy, not my pain how well we’re doing in the post season.
You might be thinking, “Sooooo, how can I equate Hockey Playoffs with my marketing strategy? What do they have in common?”

A lot, actually.

1.) Get your fans involved.

News Flash. People follow you on social media because they love you. <audible gasp> During the playoffs, teams give out freebies that get their fan base involved- noise makers, or in the Capital’s case- flashy red glow sticks



Credit: Danielle Ledney @BlueMist82

Or this awesome little video clip by Todd Goren, @toddgoren.

Verizon Center looks great, right? The energy was high, the fans were ready to go crazy…we won they’re involved.
The same applies to your strategy.  If you’re only posting and pushing nothing but sales content off your website, you’ll never organically interact with your audience. Give them stuff to talk about, even things that might have nothing to do with your brand. Fun, actionable items are the best items!

2.) Sometimes, bounces don’t go your way.

It’s not uncommon for goals in hockey to be determined by a weird deflection off a skate, off the boards, off someone’s face mask…and the goalie can’t get to it in time. If you think the puck is going one way, it bounces another way and you sink a goal.


(Pekka Rinne, anyone? Bounces, man…)

Great if you’re the team trying to score, terrible if you’re trying to defend.

Marketing and social media are the same way. Even with a solid strategy, best-laid plans can go awry.
Take for example this tone-deaf Pepsi commercial that made some waves, recently.
Though it wasn’t a Social Media campaign, Pepsi’s Social Media had to do a significant amount of damage control when it went viral for the wrong reasons. It resulted in Pepsi pulling the ad and issuing an apology.
Mistakes happen, and you’re going to get in trouble sometimes. Having a solid emergency plan is key.

3.) Take shots on goal, even if you think they’ll miss.


Tom Wilson is more of a tough guy than a goal scorer- usually. He grabs a puck that happens to roll right to him from the boards, plops it on the ice, and fires. Winning the game. From a crazy angle.
Sometimes when it comes to marketing, you never know what’s going to be a hit or miss with your audience. Wendy’s is a prime example of this- when they hired their Social Media Manager, I’m not sure they knew that being, as the kids say, savage, would bump their brand visibility. But it has. In fact, articles have been written about the savagery- one BoredPanda article got over 612,000 likes!
Though their Social Media “voice” might be somewhat demeaning, the fan base loves it- and it’ gets interactions and retweets on twitter in droves.
In fact, they may even be responsible for breaking a Twitter record- from sarcasm! Read about that here.

4.) Your offense is only as strong as your defense.


You can score all day long, but if your goalie has become swiss cheese, and your defensemen are non-existent, you’re not going to be doing any winning anytime soon.
Being bold with marketing is going to have potholes.  And you’re going to want to make sure your PR people are great at what they do. And for the love of god, ignoring the power of Social Media will be the nail in your coffin.
You’ve heard of the recent debacle with United Airlines?
From a Social Media perspective, everything they did was wrong. Oh, so, so wrong.
Far be it from me to tell a juggernaut like United how to handle their PR. But I’m guessing they’d love a do-over right about now.

5.) Your fans might be mad at you if you lose, but treat them right and they’ll come back.


If you love a sports team like I do, big losses hit hard. You might feel it for awhile. Even cry a little. But the feelings don’t last forever. By the time the pre-season hits, you’re ready for the season and excited to see how far you’ll go.
With Social Media, it’s not impossible to bounce back. It will take some time and finesse, and a lot of doing the right thing. You might have to bring in new players that have strengths in other departments.

So what do you think? Do you have any to add to this list? Let us know in the comments!




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