How the Cardinals are Quadrupling Their Instagram Comments with a Simple Partnership

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‘Whose Shoes’ is helping drive conversation among followers.

An example of the post the Cardinals have used for the initiative. (Photo via Brandon Naidus)

Paid partnerships can be distractingly obvious at times.

From players who may just copy and paste what their partner tells them to post, sorry Markelle Fultz, to brand integrations that just feel forced, it takes quality planning and strategy to execute an engaging and native campaign.

Luckily for the Arizona Cardinals, they have done just that with their ‘Whose Shoes’ partnership with Nike and are now reaping the rewards.

“We have definitely noticed a lot more comments than usual,” said Brandon Naidus, Social Media Manager for the Cardinals. “This lends nicely to our reach with Instagram’s algorithm.”

How many more comments than usual? We examined 79 of the Cardinals’ Instagram posts that didn’t have to deal directly with a game and were outside of the ‘Whose Shoes’ partnership.

Those 79 posts averaged 54.7 comments per post.

The ‘Whose Shoes’ posts? Averaging 263 comments per post.

While the success of the partnership can be attributed to Instagram’s platform, Naidus believes buy-in from team executives has helped the most.

“Our executives believed enough in our social media efforts to add more resources to it, which allowed us to pull this off this year. Having a person dedicated to graphics and one dedicated to video has led to a lot more content opportunities for us to have sponsored.”

A year in the making, Naidus and his team knew that if they could deliver quality reoccurring content, that it could be monetized.

“We had the concept for ‘Whose Shoes’ last year actually. We were able to execute it this year though. Knowing that it would be a good piece of reoccurring content, we presented it to our business development team. With Nike as a partner, this made sense as a good tie-in for both of us.”

With the metrics already looking good, Naidus believes the partnership will be a success.

“At the end of the day our goal is to make sure it is a feature that makes our partner happy and our fans engaged. If we are able to crack 100–150 comments on this consistently this season and Nike is happy with the feature, then it is definitely a success.”

Putting together quality partnerships like this may not always be easy, but Naidus offered up some tips on how to be more successful.

“Be proactive. Develop a list of reoccurring content for your sponsorship team that includes bullet points on post frequency, the platforms it is distributed on, analytics and good potential brands to partner with the feature. Ultimately, the sponsorship department and you have the same goals. You both want to drive revenue. In order to do that, it makes sense to have content that is engaging, so that the partner gets their value from the feature and your fans enjoy your content.”

This piece has been presented to you by SMU’s Master of Science in Sport Management.

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