Thursday, 13 September 2012

Sports & Social Media! How Sports Teams Are Using Pinterest To Engage Fans - Melissa Marchionna

Thanks to Pinterest, I now have 162 uses for a mason jar. Give me five minutes of exploring Pinterest’s boards and I could plan a dream wedding with a stunning dress, decadent cake and creative center piece (using a mason jar of course, what could be more whimsical?).
Although the reports say that Pinterest is the third largest social network in the USA, the typical Pinterest page is full of fashion, food and inspirational e-cards. So how are sports marketers managing to both fit in AND stand out on the network?

3 Outstanding (and very different) Sports Pinterest Pages

Washington Huskies

There is a lot of love about the Washington Huskies Pinterest. UW has managed to strike a balance between appealing to the typical social sports fan and the typical Pinterest user. Boards like “Seatown Swag” cater to Pinterest users who love to delve into travel destinations, while “Husky Living” highlights purple and gold living. For those who simply can’t get enough of cute animals “Dubs” (the U-Dub mascot) and “Just a Little Husky” boards can provide a completely gratuitous heartwarming when you’re having a rough day.

UW doesn’t just play into the Pinterest stereotypes. Visually stunning phogrtoaphy on boards like “Mighty are the Memories” and “Best 4 Years of your Life” captures the essence of what it means to be a Husky. Exceptional Huskies are highlighted on the “Huskies in Hollywood,” “Living the Dream” (athletes), and “UW Olympians” boards. These boards are great because of their appeal to non-UW fans (giving them a little more “Pinability”) and their timely nature.

One of the coolest features of the UW Pinterest is the “Get to Know A Dawg” board, which introduces players through infographics. These graphics are effective because they provide information and insight in a way that’s stunningly visual; which, after all, is what Pinterest is all about.
Bottom line: the Washington Huskies know who they are and know who they are pinning for.


Boston Celtics

When it comes to social media, the Boston Celtics always bring it. The team’s boards are primarily for merchandise, broken down into easy to browse categories like “Celtics Memorabilia,” “Celtics Jewelry” and “Women’s Celtics Gear.”  While on most social networks, “selling” is discouraged, on Pinterest merchandise a big part of what drives the network. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, merchandise on Pinterest takes on a more “aspirational” tone and fans are excited to share, and hopefully, add to their shopping list.

The Celtics, who consistently excel with their digital efforts, have a cohesive message across their marketing efforts. The “I Am A Celtic” campaign during the 2011-12 season highlighted the idea that being a member of a team and a part of a rich, proud history, was what it means to be a Celtic. As some of the initial commercials stated, being a Celtic is not about the Hollywood fan fare or South Beach lifestyle, it’s about blue collar hard work and pride. The Celtics translated this well to their Pinterest boards, choosing incredible imagery from the Celtics-Heat series for the #IAmNotSouthBeach board. The hashtagged title encourages fans to get involved through Pinterest and Twitter, and tell the world #IAmNotSouthBeach, instead #IAmACeltic.

More unique to Pinterest, the Celtics also promote a “Pin it to Win it” contest.  The gist? Pin items you like from the Celtics store, you’ll be entered to win those items. Let’s face it, Pinterest, while touted as an up-and-coming network, is not as large as Facebook or Twitter, and the amount of followers the Celtics have on Pinterest is significantly less than either of those other networks. Right now, it’s the simple contests that take advantage of Pinterest’s native features that are seeing the best return. With a contest like this, you’re encouraging your followers to share your products and spread the word for you.


Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins take an interesting approach to Pinterest. Rather than post in an anonymous organizational voice, the Bruins have designated “The World’s Most Pinteresting Bear” as the team’s Pinterest representative. Since 2009, the Bear has served as the anti-mascot of the Bruins organization. His character is coolly fanatical about the team, as well as ultra-reverent to the franchise’s history.

The Bear’s board are all completely in his character. A board titled “The Victims”  show screenshots of the various “hockey fans” the Bear has exacted his revenge on his highly viral videos (fans who have committed broken steadfast hockey rules like dating within the division [who does that?] and tucking in a jersey [again, who does that?]). In a similar fashion, the board “The Show” ties in screenshots as well as actual videos from “The Bear & the Gang,” the Bear’s campy 80s sitcom-style web series.
One of the boards that has gotten the most buzz is the Bear’s board called “The Ex’s” (cringe worthy grammar, Bruins Bear).  The Bear’s personality really shines through, as he describes the women—both human and animal—who he has courted throughout the years. My personal favorites include a photo of Mila Kunis, captioned “We were young. Things got really serious, really fast. Hell, we almost got married. When her parents disapproved, it got weird,” and a brown bear smizing at the camera with the text “Donna. Total stalker.”

The content on the Bruins Pinterest is anything but typical. Like the Bear represents the anti-mascot, the content is anti-Pinterest. But for the Bruins, this works. Sports loving Pinterest users are drawn to the boards, while non-Pinterest users still visit the boards for their cheeky content.

What are some of the best examples you’ve seen of sports teams or brands using Pinterest? Do you think it makes sense for sport marketers to use Pinterest?

*Also don't forget to follow Man Olimpik on Pinterest... for latest Malaysian sports pins! Thanks 

Melissa Marchionna

Melissa Marchionna spends her days on Facebook and Twitter, handling the social media for the Pittsburgh Penguins. She is a lover of all ice sports, and actively plays hockey, curls and is a former competitive figure skater. Melissa is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst (M.S. Sport Management) and Boston College (B.A. Psychology).