By: Lito Torres
Unless you are actively following the official Titans twitter and their other social outlets, you may be missing something rather remarkable that’s happening in the world of the NFL. It may be subtle, but it is important and will likely be a building block for other teams to follow when more people take notice and witness how the fans respond to it.
With a great majority of fans getting their information from their mobile devices nowadays, there are few organizations in the NFL that have put emphasis on fan interaction and social media quite like the Titans have. Not only will you find the standard coverage of a team that most organizations have like charity coverage, ticket sales, scoring updates along with short in-house videos about breaking news, but you will find fan interaction on a personal level throughout the year. There is an absolutely undeniable increase of fan love that is coming to appreciate not only the team on the field but also the team behind the computer connecting us all.
This particular outlook was addressed by Roger Goodell in his Super Bowl “State of the League address.” When asked what can be done to make the game more accessible he said “We’ll continue to make the game available to the devices you spend more of your time… we see that as a great opportunity to engage our fans in different ways maybe even all year round. We are going to come to you as the next generations and bring football to our fans and allow them to engage”
I sat down to interview the Social Media Manger for the Titans franchise, Nate Bain, for this piece and he was able to shine some light on this and give us a peak into how they are doing this and why. I am going to show you just a few reasons why the other 31 teams in the league are going to start looking at us as a fan base with the organizations interaction and will be copying what we do in the coming years if they haven’t started doing so already, to not only align with what the NFL commissioner stated but also to see the tremendous returns with their franchises fans as the Titans have in theirs.
After researching team analytics for Twitter it was discovered that even though the Titans have the 31st ranking in number of followers, they currently have the 5th highest ratio in comparison to those that they are following. Nate pointed out that “Even though we may not be able to compete with media giants such as the Cowboys, or big-name teams like that, our metrics are consistently in the top ranked organizations across the league in fan interaction and social media presence” we are a “super creative and super engaged fan base that may be small, but it can hang with the bigger fanbases.”
The numbers also tell us that when the fans speak, they do see it. When their finger is on the pulse in this way, they can in turn get genuine feedback from their own quality control group and adjust accordingly. With a resource such as this at their disposal, all they had to do was simply listen and interact. Being able to have this built in “Focus Group” of sorts affords you all kinds of different possibilities. All you need is someone to acknowledge the data and what they do from there is what separates the fans from the General Managers.
Relatability is reaching out to all fan-bases across all platforms, not just Twitter, but also Reddit, 4chan, Instagram and anywhere else fan content can be found to use the content but also to expose the more traditionalist fans to various outlets that they may not be familiar with right now. They aren’t only recognizing them but reposting from the official account with credit to the original content creator which is something that goes a VERY long way with the people who express their fandom in more artistic and uncommon ways.
If you are even remotely active on social media you have now become accustomed to how people tend to speak, interact and react differently than in the real world. For example, GiFs are now considered a legitimate standalone post (as long as it’s the right one and you aren’t trying too hard) and the official account uses them with a great balance. Whether it is during the week, traveling to the game, big news or just giving us fans a good laugh or great fan-art.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 2, 2018
as well as content from major network shows covering the Titans (when it actually happens) and in turn really makes it very entertaining.
“And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is MARIOTA when I lay my vengeance upon thee.” @gmfb @KyleBrandt pic.twitter.com/xMrV6oTAag
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 2, 2018
In game examples, are best showed by in the playoffs vs the Chiefs, Eric Decker dropped a handful of VERY catchable passes. It had us all scratching our heads and thinking “what the?…” Than he catches a perfect pass in the end zone for the go ahead score to give us the lead and advance us to Foxborough. What followed was just…. perfect.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 7, 2018
When the team isn’t on the field there is still plenty of quality coverage like our team crashing a wedding, while doing some Bollywood dance moves and genuinely having fun.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) December 16, 2017
This kind of laid back mentality and desire to connect with fans stretches all the way to the top with controlling owner Ms. Amy Adams Strunk. She goes through tailgate parties, taking photos, talking to fans and hearing their stories and even eating some food and sincerely enjoy being with fans in a way that I have yet to see ownership from any team do.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 6, 2018
Nate even said, “That’s kind of Amy’s focus as she’s taken over the last few years, connect the fans more and let them feel like they trust us for information” and that brings us into the next and biggest topic.
What’s perhaps most commendable is how the Franchise has been handling the flow of information with all the big news happening lately in the coaching changes. There will always be media speculation on who the team may be looking at for vacancies, but the Titans took the proverbial “Bull” by the horns and released official statements on who they will be interviewing, when they occur and also a write up on their background or experience once the interview concluded. This gives them complete control on the flow of information as opposed to fans having to scour the internet for rumors or reports than also having to decide if those so called “Reports” are even reputable and worth taking seriously.
Titans interview first head coaching candidate, Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. #TitanUp
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 18, 2018
Titans interview second head coaching candidate, Steve Wilks. #TitanUp
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 18, 2018
As Nate told me “It was awesome, and something I wanted to do but it came directly from Amy (Majority Owner), Jon Robinson (GM), and the head of PR. Those guys gave us enough trust and faith that we are going to give you the information and we’ll let you know when to release it. So that was a big win for us internally to know Vrabel was going to be our coach and we’re going to announce at a time when Adam Schefrer from ESPN and other media outlets would not to have it first. It was a huge win in my book. It builds trust with Amy and ownership, Jon and also our PR department.”
When an organization can actually pull this off, it tells the fans and the rest of the media that they are clear, concise, and don’t want any misunderstanding on what the options are that they are entertaining when at all possible. As well as the fact that they can be trusted as the primary source of news and information for all big changes within the organization. It makes fans feel a part of the process as much as possible and not apart from it. Connecting like this with fans is what turns casual followers of the franchise to more of a die-hard fan mentality. Its what all teams should be doing in this time of information and instant connectivity. When it comes to something that has as big of a part in our lives as sports does, your favorite team SHOULD BE the source giving you the news on themselves. Gone are the days where the organizations were just an emblem or group that you chose over the others. When rooting for a team, its satisfying to know that the whole organization is not only just as invested as you are, but they want to in turn support you as much as you support them when at all possible.
Titans fans may not typically be the ones you think of when you picture “Extreme Fans” like they have in the Raider Nation or Bills Mafia etc. but the social media team in Tennessee seems to be breathing life into the quiet fans and really bringing back a Fandom to be proud of.
We are Titans and it seems like we are just now awakening to this fact. FINALLY.
The full interview will be posted on the podcast Titans of the Southwest and will be uploaded to our twitter @TitansSouthwest.
Paul Torres is a contributor on NFLUpdate.co covering the Tennessee Titans. You can follow him on twitter @TitansSouthwest