We blog often about the importance of staying on top of your brand’s place in social media as well as the emerging trends, exciting news, and the strategizing that takes place behind it all. Today, we wanted to highlight one company that consistently brings their A-game when it comes to social media—Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE).
Jon Sinden has helped build MLSE’s social media strategy based on one simple and powerful premise: What if your team loved you as much as you love your team? MLSE sees social media as a tool to create a reciprocal relationship with the fans that have ate, slept, and breathed their team’s brand their whole lives.
What is MLSE doing well on social media?
MLSE’s Digital and Social Media team led by Jon Sinden with Community Managers Matt Iaboni (Leafs), Jay Satur (Raptors) and Asif Hossain (Toronto FC) have done a great job executing a seamless engagement strategy centered on the idea of loving their fans through social media. They have given each MLSE team (Maple Leafs, Raptors, TFC, and Marlies) a face for fans to build and maintain a relationship with— ‘relationship’ being the operative word. Teams finally have the tools to give back the love they receive season after season. MLSE asked fans via Facebook and Twitter who they thought the Leafs should select with the 5th overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft. Over 3,000 votes poured in, and to show fans just how loud their voices are on social media, MLSE used this crowd-sourced data to produce a cool infographic for the Leafs’ Facebook cover photo.
In addition to upholding great relationships with each of their fans, MLSE’s social media presence fosters growth within the fan community as well. With Toronto Maple Leafs fans amongst the most diehard in the league, it only makes sense to bring them together on a larger scale than the local pub or a neighbour’s living room. Search #TMLtalk on Twitter each gameday for a glimpse into the action that is true social media engagement—engagement as simple as uniting excited fans by one common hashtag. Similar live conversations are held during Raptors events with #RTZ and for Toronto FC live events, just search the #TFClive hashtag. All of the initiatives employed by MLSE boil down to making sure that fans know they’re loved back.
Why do we think they are using social media in a smart way?
At the 2012 CMA Social Media Conference in Toronto, Sinden explained that MLSE doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter strategy, but rather an engagement strategy that makes sure the fans know they are loved. The team replies, comments, shares, follows back, and most importantly, listens—treating it as a real relationship. They put their fans first by putting their F.A.N.S (Read: Friendship, Answer everyone, Now, in the moment, & Share) first.
Social media plays such an integral role in the MLSE fan community because the teams now have a set of eyes and ears on their fans. MLSE isn’t a big empire to admire from afar and talk about—it’s a friend and a fellow fan that you can talk with. That’s right, the people behind the MLSE social media accounts are fans too, and they come off so incredibly genuine because they simply are genuine.
What can other brands or businesses learn from what MLSE is doing?
You don’t need to be an adored sports team to build an engaged following (maybe you do if you want to build six figure followers, as MLSE has done). The central aspect of your social media strategy should be engagement, and the big idea behind your engagement strategy should be loving your fans or customers the way they love you.