Battle of the Brands – A Sporting Engagement

Estimated reading time: 7 min

After the success of the first Battle of the Brands post, I thought I would revisit the subject, but this time use the heavy weight of New Zealand, in terms of social media engagement.

The brand I am referring to, of course, is the All Blacks. With 1.87 million likes on Facebook and 170 thousand followers on Twitter, they are, by a long way, New Zealand’s most followed brand.
But how does their social media engagement stack up against some of the other top sporting brands in the world?

Step up to the plate, England Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys from the NFL. As we did last time, we will be looking at how these sporting brands engage with their huge number of followers/ likers and critiquing who does it best, as well as providing our suggestions for improvement along the way.

First up, The All Blacks:

All Blacks Cover Photo - Facebook

The All Blacks numbers speak for themselves, they are a head above any other NZ brand on Facebook or Twitter. I’ll start with Facebook.

Their Facebook page has just over 1.87 million followers (at time of writing) with an average of 50,000 Facebook users talking about it at any one time. They use the ‘favourites boxes’ in a basic but effective way, including; photos, videos, online store, E-calander, Youtube account, events, live streaming and an RSS blog feed.  Possible improvements here could be a competition box/giveaway box, or a Fan Photos box offering high quality All Blacks photos for fans to use as their own cover photo on Facebook.
They average 3 posts on any given day but this can change if events are happening or important news is being circulated. Every post includes a photo or video/news link as well as posting polls and finishing all posts with a question of sorts.
One of their most popular posts of late was ‘Who has the better signing pose, Ma’a or Dan?’ and includes a photo of the two players signing jerseys at school event. It is very simple, asks a question and has a photo. A great way to get involved and engage with their fans. The post received almost 3,000 likes and 400 comments.

The All Blacks Twitter account is also used in a very engaging way and has an impressive 175 thousand followers. They send regular tweets with news updates, promotional info, the live location of training’s and events and post twitpics of fans at the events. They use hash tags effectively and retweet mentions of the brand/messages of support.  A possible improvement for their Twitter engagement would be to tweet less (currently anywhere between 10 and 25 tweets a day) and mention fans as well as retweeting messages.  They could also start up hash tags that can reach certain players or coaches and think about a ‘Player Takeover’ – more on that soon.

Next we have  England Football:

England Football facebook cover photo

The England Football team’s Facebook page currently has 1.7 million likes. The have five favorites boxes; likes, events, photos, competitions and Ustream live. This is not an effective use of their page for such a big brand. They could spice this up by adding videos, RSS and an online store box.

They make 3 posts per day on average and include photos, video links, questions/polls, relevant news articles and posts about related brands. They could improve their engagement by adding a question at the end of each post. Currently most of the text in their posts is statements or excerpt from news articles. If they showed a more human side by giving their point of view and then asking for their fans thoughts they may see a rise in engagement on their posts.

Their most popular post of recent times said ‘HAPPY Birthday Wayne Rooney 27 today. Here he is back in the days wearing the number 9!’ and included a photo of the player. This received 5000 likes and 300 comments.  Although this post was far more successful than most of their others during that week (avg 300 likes) they could have improved engagement further by asking their fans for messages of support for the player.

The England Football Twitter account averages 10 tweets a day and has just over 250 thousand followers. They tweet a lot of scores, news and other football related information but there is no real fan engagement with their Twitter account. A possible way to improve this would be to be to hold a ‘Player takeover’ or Twitter Takeover, which is what a lot of sports teams/brands are doing to encourage fan engagement. A Player takeover involves a player from the team ‘taking over’ the Twitter account for an hour or so and fans are able to ask them any questions or send support with a special hash tag for the event.

And last but not least engaging, The Dallas Cowboys:

DallasCowboys Facebook cover photo

The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most well known NFL teams/brands but a recent study by SportsNetworker didn’t put them at the top of their most engaging Twitter or Facebook lists. We have chosen the Cowboys because they engage very well on both and have the most followers on each social media platform by a long way.

The Cowboys Facebook page has a huge 5.2 millions likes and uses 9 favorites boxes, including; photos, video, digital catalog, online store for Ecards (to send fans as a present), custom jerseys and 3 different competition boxes. Basically everything a fan could want. They use their cover photo very effectively, changing it regularly to new game details and including a stand alone competition relevant to the upcoming game.

The average between 3 and 7 posts a day and accompany every post with a photo or news/online store link but the posts themselves are not very engaging, with no questions asked of fans and the high number of likes and comments can be put down to a loyal fan base and not so much what the social media staff are doing.  Possible improvements would be making each timeline post a wide landscape format so fans can use the photos as their own cover photo and it will also give the page a tidier look with so many posts going up every day. An example of this is the San Francisco 49ers Facebook Page.

There most popular post of late said ‘Ten years ago today, Emmitt Smith became the NFL’s All-Time leading rusher breaking Walter Payton’s record! Emmitt ended his career with 18,355 rushing yards! “LIKE” if you remember this moment!’.  It included a photo of the player and received 100 thousand likes, 4,000 comments and 3,000 shares.

The Cowboys Twitter account has 455 thousand followers and engages very well with all of them. They retweet fans messages, use hash tags effectively and tweet a good selection of photos, videos and live score updates during a game. They use the account to ask questions, run competitions and communicate with fans effectively. With an average of 6 posts a day the only improvement I would suggest would be to have clear hash tags for coaches, managers, and top players that can be used by fans to ask those specific people questions and send support.

An Engaging conclusion

So there we have it, three countries, three giants in the sporting world and three brands showing different levels of engagement in the social media world.
Unfortunately, the England Football team cant keep up with the other two when it comes to engagement, their Facebook Page and Twitter account felt more like websites with no human touch and they could improve drastically for such a big brand.
The All Blacks and the Dallas Cowboys both do different things very well and both could improve certain parts of their social media strategy, but it is the All Blacks who offer the most communication and engaging responses when it comes to their fans. The Cowboys offer all sorts of competitions and prizes but the human touch falls short of what the All Blacks provide, both on their Facebook Page and their Twitter page. Well done the ABs!

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