‘We all want to be rockstars’: How the Seattle Seahawks mobilised its fan base

We all want to be rockstars so letting fans have their moment is one of the keys to engaging supporters, Kenton Olson of the Seattle Seahawks told the Mumbrella Sports Marketing Summit.

Kenton Olson of the Seattle Seahawks at Mumbrella Sports Marketing Summit

Kenton Olson of the Seattle Seahawks at Mumbrella’s Sports Marketing Summit

Olson, the Seahawks’ director of digital and emerging media described how the club’s social media strategy revolves around engagement, outcomes and emphasising both the hero moments and the humanity of players.

The Seahawks’ led spectator engagement in the US National Football League with the now demolished King Dome – “a big concrete bunker” in Kenton’s words. The venue proved to be perfect for noisy fans, something that upset sports administrators of the early 1980s.

After the NFL admitted defeat in trying to quieten the Seahawks’ fans, the club retired jumper number 12 in 1984 and made its fans ‘the 12th player’. Since then the number has become a symbol of the club’s fan base.

Olson himself joined the Seahawks in 2007, coinciding with Facebook becoming available to the public and opening a range of opportunities for the club to engage with fans. 

“I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in some very cool things,” he said – not least being involved in one Superbowl win and another close run loss.

The Seahawks’ social media audience boasts over 8m followers, generating more than 45 million social media engagements annually.

Olson’s main advice to social media managers and marketers is not to become too focused on measuring engagement – metrics are not an aim in themselves and beautifully crafted reports are not the objective.

Defining success, understanding the outcomes you want to achieve and knowing your demographics is more important for managers driving their social media strategy, he said.

Humanising the players with compelling content is another important aspect of a sport club’s social marketing strategy, he noted, and allowing them to create their own content is a good way of engaging with fans.

Evoking emotion from fans is the ultimate aim of the sports marketer, whether it’s exciting them with ‘hero content’ on YouTube or amusing them with Twitter, it is the emotional connection that keeps fans engaged, Olson believes.

Ultimately though, Olson advised sports marketers to try new things.

“It’s not rocket science, things aren’t going to blow up so feel free to experiment.”


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