It is the start of the football season. The website that does well for its social media initiatives is The National Football League brand website at http://www.nfl.com/ . The National Football League is an American icon in the world of sports.  The site is active, in real time, and quite interactive. It is full of all kinds of widgets, plug ins, and badges that allow the NFL consumer to interact with the company brand.

So what is viral marketing? “Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence.”(Wilson 2012) In short, viral marketing is making sure that you allow your message to be shared, commented on, interacted with, and taken to the masses.

The NFL.com site has a “pick em” section. Pick em is when a person decides who will win the game mentioned. The NFL site allows for the fan to not only puck the winner of said game, but also to make their own comments as to why you think your team will win. Comments can be posted as well as liked. This interactive content allows for fans to stay involved with the weekly games all season long.

The NFL.com site also has a Fantasy Football section. A fan can pick a fictitious league online with friends. The league player choices and the stats are updated in real time weekly. The league as well is the weekly standings can also be posted on Facebook’s for peers to see and comment on. This is a great team building application which can be enjoyed by any football fan. The social commenting ability on the player’s choices allows any football fan to be involved in the fantasy football application.

There are NFL reporters on the NFL.com site who post on Facebook and Twitter. One recent example said “From Twitter-Lot of good signs for Alshon Jeffrey. In 2 WR sets on goal line. Just ran away from 3 defenders on 34-yd gain. @greggrosenthal Gregg Rosenthal Retweet. The example post allows the NFL fan to do many things. The fan can like or dislike the comment. If they want to they can make their own comment about that person and what they said. They can also “retweet” or resend the original comment from their own Twitter accounts.

A contest is a great way to make a website achieve a great interactive draw. “Free” is the most powerful word in a marketer’s vocabulary. (Wilson 2012) One such contest on NFL.com is the “NFL Rush Fantasy Football Game.” http://fantasy.nflrush.com/rush . This is a great spinoff on the office classic. It is a head to head online fantasy contest, with prizes from the NFL for winning. The prizes include NFL gear, NFL tickets, as well as school scholarships.  The roster, league choices, and leaderboard are all real time and interactive.  This is done through what is called “the comment box.”  Says the sites comment box rules “Comment Box: All Fantasy users will now have the ability to post comments and connect with fellow players via a comment box that lives on the right side of the LEADERBOARD tab. Additionally; there will be a comment box on the LEAGUE tab, where users who belong to the same league may leave comments for other users in their league.”

A great interactive aspect which is unique to NFL.com is the “Everything to Prove” page. It is located at http://www.nfl.com/qs/everythingtoprove/index.jsp and is an amazing depository of the NFL real time video, web updates, background on each player and player Tweets. All of the videos can be viewed, commented, and shared. People feel like they are part of the NFL first year players drive to prove themselves.  Twitter, Facebook, as well as mobile devices can all be used in this viral gem.  An example of this interaction is rookie QB Andrew Luck posting right on the page through his Twitter account. He writes “@nflcolts-Driving past the site of tomorrow night’s game, Heinz Field. Game time 8pm Sunday Night on NBC #COLTSTRONG http://t.co/P9Kpncvv about 5 hours ago”. The last link is posted to the popular picture site Instagram, and shows the Colts getting off the plane. This is a great way to project relevance for both the Colts team as well as Andrew Luck. It also puts the fan front and center in a timely manner.

The “Everything to Prove” viral video is a great interactive NFL page. It is located at http://www.nfl.com/qs/everythingtoprove/index.jsp . Each piece of footage is able to be shared as well as recommended.  This shows great football footage of the players in action.  The viral video D3 Designs says “A viral video can be twice as effective as written material.”  The reason for this is that most people remember what they see more than what they read. If this concept was not true then television would not remain as popular as it is today.  (Dwase 2012). These videos can even either be directly emailed to a friend or posted on any social media site.

What can viral videos do for you brand? It can breathe new life, as well as ad personality to your brand. Old Spice was older brand geared towards elderly men until the brand launched its “The Man You could smell like” campaign. This viral ad series featured young and athletic men describing Old Spice as a “mans” smell. The ad projects Old Spice as the product for the desirable man. Product reinvented.

NFL.com is successful in its ability to turn itself into a young raw brand. By allowing all content to be given different measures of interactivity, allowing its content to be shared, and making its information real time form both the player and the team standpoint, the NFL is now the people’s brand. Anyone who goes onto the NFL.com site is going to feel like part of the National Football League. They are going to share the excitement and buzz with their friends and family, as well as social media as a whole. This is not the old, historical, pigskin site of old. This is the new, interactive, and viral NFL.  Touchdown!

Reference

Dwase, Daniel (2012) Viral Video Marketing: How YouTube Can Help Increase Your Web Traffic Retrieved on August 18th, 2012 from http://www.d3webdesigns.com/viral-video.html .

Wilson, R. (2005). The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing.  Retrieved on August 18th, 2012, from http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt5/viral-principles.htm.

Serjeant, Pete (2012) Top Seven Ways You Can Use Social Video To Add Personality To Your Bland Brand. Retrieved on August 18th, 2012, from http://mememachine.viralvideochart.com/blog/2011/1/20/top-seven-ways-you-can-use-social-video-to-add-personality-t.html

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