How the New Jersey Devils Monetized Social Media

by Ryan Bright on February 9, 2012

Ryan Bright is a sports writer and social media strategist with over a half decade of experience. The Philadelphia-native believes strongly in consumer engagement, hash-tags and hockey fights. Ryan currently freelances for Journal Register Company and CSNPhilly.com, and is seeking a position in the field of Social Media Marketing and Coordination. Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.

 

 

When it comes to innovative and progressive movements within the sports world, the National Hockey League will not top any lists. Yet, with one long stride in social media marketing, the New Jersey Devils are changing the way the marketing game is played within sports teams.

And it all has to do with one simple idea — relentless customer engagement.

In mid-February of 2011, the small-market Devils took a chance with a social media idea that confused many, including the people implementing it. The plan, called ‘Mission Control’ was to develop a fan group into a community relations army, swarming platforms and cultivating conversation during every Devils game and even on off-days.

New Jersey Devils Mission Control

Photo Credit: The Sports Business Exchange

It was a grassroots effort to grow their online popularity and visibility through consistent and overwhelming fan engagement.

The group was handed a righteous name — the Devils Army Generals — and was granted a room labeled the command center. There, the 25-person team would closely follow social media activity, blog, arrange Tweet-ups or viewing parties for fans and simply answer fan questions. The team gained the Devils over 70,000 Facebook ‘Likes’ in less than a month and gain nearly 1,000 Twitter followers a week.

Mission Control Room New Jersey Devils

Photo Credit: Simply Zesty

Best of all — the team is all volunteers, super fans that just want to be a part of something they love, at the simple cost of the hardware needed.

The story gets even better for the Devils, who are an organization that has struggled to find a hockey foothold in Newark, N.J., despite on-ice success. One year after launching their inventive process, the Devils have monetized Mission Control and have made $500,000 in revenue from marketing partnerships according to the Sports Business Journal.

“Mission Control has been our lead in sales meetings, not just a throw-in,” president of Devils Media Entertainment Rich Krezwick told the Sports Business Journal. “I think we can do $2 million in our second year.”

The partnerships are woven into the social media plan, such as sponsoring online fantasy games and running contests through the team’s more mainstream and populated platforms. They do not post sponsored Tweets or posts of any sort, shielding their fans from a marketing onslaught. It’s pure, it’s thoughtful and most of all — it works.

“When we launched this we made a cultural investment in social media,” said Krezwick. “It’s coming to fruition now.”

And with the Devils’ ability to monetize through strong fan and community engagement, it’s just a matter of time before that game plan goes viral across the sports landscape.

About the Author

With a background in sports reporting and journalism, Ryan Bright has a mastery of web content creation and distribution. With nearly a half decade of blogging, brand development and social media marketing experience, Ryan is adept at using social mediums to maximize brand reach. Connect with Ryan through email or follow him on Twitter: @philabright.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen App February 9, 2012 at 8:29 am

This is going to be a really interesting concept moving forward. It seems similar to what the Cleveland Indians did with their social media club, which they started in 2010. While their efforts were not quite as organized, the concept was the same. Find super-fans; get them passes for the game at the stadium; get them to spread the word, using their already established social media influence; and hope the campaign brings in new fans.

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Dima February 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I can tell you, for example, what is the situation with social media projects in Russia, KHL club Spartak Moscow. It’s pretty funny & interest)

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Brian February 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Would like to know more about the tactics they used.. It’s a good story, and one worth reporting. I was looking for a ‘how’, not just a ‘who’ and ‘what’ in the story

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Ryan Bright February 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm

It seems as though the team of SM managers do it through pure engagement and other traditional tactics. They built a clear audience and sponsors followed. The details of how they acquired the sponsors and partnerships were not disclosed.

The Devils are also a team dominated by market rivals in media attention, so this type of daily information sharing fed a hungry fan base, which equalled a nice online buzz.

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