According to an item in Mediapost, the NHL will unveil it’s new fan page on Facebook later this afternoon. The screengrab of it looks beautiful; loaded with continually-updated content and highly interactive, it resembles nothing so much as their own NHL.com website. And that’s a very good thing.
The press release makes a big deal about virtual gifts like digital jerseys and the updates where you send a friend to ‘the penalty box’–Facebook specific actions that link directly to the NHL property, but that’s mostly windowdressing. Sure, you can send a drink or a flower or a poke, but as Facebook has moved from a virtual novelty to a widely-accepted social networking platform supplanting even e-mail for a large majority of users, that kind of ‘let’s pretend’ capability seems wildly besides the point.
The reason for the NHL–or any brand–to take an active stance on Facebook is to be part of a community that spends an increasing amount of time there, encouraging sharing and forwarding easily-accessible content. Better still, the reason the NHL should find success with a Facebook fan page is because that brand already has fans. Professional sports are built on the notion of fandom and rabid engagement. Unfortunately, fandom is not intuitive for a brand like say, Odor Eaters. Once you’ve reminded a friend that his sneakers stink, how else are you going to meaningfully interact with that brand? In the end, brands like these inevitably make a big deal out of the number of friends they acquire, whether or not those friends have any active, ongoing engagement with the brand.
And that’s the point where marketers need to re-imagine. Or at least reassess. Because ten to one, that’s the point where brands sacrifice strategy for cheap affordable tactics.
By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79