How The Jacksonville Jaguars Have Seized the Moment On Twitter

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The Jags’ three person social team has relied on planning and preparation to keep the team on brand and in the conversation.

Image via @Jaguars on Twitter

Prior to this past weekend, most of the NFL world didn’t give the Jacksonville Jaguars much of a chance to reach the AFC Championship. To do so, they would have to defeat the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers on the road.

But before that, the Jags won their first playoff game since 2007 on January 7th against the Buffalo Bills. To tell the story of such a pivotal moment in the history of the franchise, the social media team, led by Darnell Brady, were ready with their A-game.

“The first game was about how important it was to the city, our fans, and capturing that excitement and euphoria, especially for the die-hards (#DTWD),” explains Brady.

“It was our first home playoff game in over 18 years and we wanted to make sure it was as special for our fans as possible. We had no idea that coach was going to give the game ball to the fans and the city. It was a perfect moment that played into it our story line. Having our entire digital team for a home game allowed us to capture a ton of content.”

In the time between that first playoff win and their trip to Pittsburgh, most of the national media and the Steelers themselves wrote off Jacksonville completely. Many were already anticipating a matchup between Pittsburgh and defending champions New England.

This, along with it being an away game, changed how Brady and the Jaguars’ marketing team prepared for the second round battle.

“Against the Steelers, the story line changed early on in the week. We saw how much our fans and players felt disrespected by the media and the Steelers players. We knew that our digital team would be limited as I was the only one in Pittsburgh while the other 2 on our team (Carlos Olivera and Savanna Wood) would be back in Florida. Because of this, we made sure to prepare ahead of time for any scenario the game presented.”

The scenario presented was the Jaguars held on for a 45–42 win. As most social media managers would be, Brady was ready with content celebrating the victory. Additionally, all the doubt surrounding Jacksonville’s chances in the buildup to the game opened the door for another type of content: exposing cold takes. Brady and team were ready with this content as well.

The team’s official twitter posted a few tweets in the hours following the game calling out specific instances of people doubting that they could win in the first place. It was all part of the plan.

“Before we even arrived in Pittsburgh, we had 5 or 6 posts that some could categorize as sassy/petty planned for ‘if we win’. We had communicated exact details like creative and what tweet to quote-tweet to everyone. All content was planned ahead of time and nothing was out of nowhere.”

Several of Jacksonville’s players also took issue with how they were treated in the days before the game and made it known publicly. The marketing team let that energy feed into their social strategy.

“Our job on social is to tell the story of our team and our fan base. If our players and fans are talking about something, then we’re going to be talking about it. We were confident in the player to take care of business on the field.”

With situations like this in sport/marketing, clapping back at criticism with wit and clever replies can be a great way to gain traction on social media. But if it’s not done correctly, social media managers can end up creating a bad situation for themselves either because they open themselves up for criticism or their superiors may feel it doesn’t fit with the organization’s brand. The Jags’ social team has found that it’s all about reading the situation.

“Being petty isn’t something that we set out to be,” Brady states. “But if we feel that is the best way to reflect our team and fans, we’re not going to shy away.”

“The biggest key to give us confidence in it has been the internal communication. We have group texts, daily meetings, and email threads between our PR staff, digital staff, and most importantly senior leadership. It has been great to vet different ideas, brainstorm, and react quickly.”

Joe Centeno, art director at Team Infographics, has helped teams across college and professional sports implement winning social strategies in times of triumph and echoes this sentiment.

“It is ok to take a different approach after a win or loss. The Jaguars execution from this weekend shows that if everyone is on the same page and has planned accordingly, it can turn out great. Being ready is just part of it. So many pieces have to fall in place, that you need the support from everyone on your team.”

“The Jaguars also didn’t cross any lines, which I’m sure was part of the entire discussion when creating their game plan. For their team, I’m sure all the hard work leading up to game was well worth it.”

An aspect of how the Jaguars executed following the Pittsburgh win that especially worked for their brand was integrating an NFL partner (EA Sports) into a tweet calling out Steelers’ safety Mike Mitchell.

Brady describes why this was his favorite tweet of the weekend.

“The Madden one is my favorite because it perfectly tied in a partner with our social media. It was a post that not only went viral, but can help the larger monetary goals of the organization.”

In interviews following the win, Jacksonville’s players indicated that they aren’t yet satisfied with how far they have come and have intentions of winning the Super Bowl. As the team moves on to face New England, look for Brady and the Jaguars to continue their winning ways on social media as well.

“We don’t want to give too much away as we head to Boston, but we’re going to continue to make sure we understand our brand, our team, and our fan base in everything that we do. If we do that, plan ahead as much as possible, and communicate to maximize our resources, then we will continue to be successful both on and off the field.”

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

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