After building strong connections with fans on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, the Miami Dolphins are now incorporating Reddit into their social media portfolio.
Launching on Reddit on February 20, Miami became only the second NFL team to join the platform. The only other club with an official account is the Baltimore Ravens, who joined on October 24, 2019. Multiple other NFL teams have unofficial accounts on Reddit.
“The one place that we really hadn’t engaged in was Reddit, and we knew that that was a huge opportunity for us,” Laura Sandall, the Dolphins’ vice president of marketing, said.
Despite only being on Reddit for a little over two months, Sandall is looking for the site and its community to help the Dolphins diversify their NFL Draft coverage.
During draft week, Sandall plans on having numerous team officials participate in the “ask me anything” forums, otherwise known as AMAs.
One AMA will feature Dayanny De La Cruz, the executive chef of Hard Rock Stadium. After overseeing Super Bowl LIV, she will share stories about her career as well as recipes for fans at home to try making for their virtual draft party. De La Cruz will also appear on April 23 in a Reddit public access stream where she will be cooking from home and answering fan questions.
The Dolphins’ social team will also participate in the team subreddit’s official draft thread. Team analysts Kim Bokamper and John Congemi will be hosting the Dolphins’ virtual draft party Facebook group as well as answering any questions in the subreddit.
While there have been talks of football operations members appearing, the Dolphins believe that Reddit readers are most interested in unique and unusual stories, like ones that could be told by Dolphins equipment staffers.
“That’s the kind of stuff that I think the Redditors really want to see and hear about,” Sandall said.
Unsurprisingly, Sandall is turning to Dolphins players to increase the team’s Reddit presence. Miami players started getting involved with Reddit on March 25, when the club hosted virtual Q&As featuring its eight free-agent signees, including Ereck Flowers, Shaq Lawson, and Kyle Van Noy, among others.
On the same day, Dolphins long snapper Taybor Pepper held his own AMA, where he responded to fan inquiries regarding head coach Brian Flores, who the unsung heroes are in the locker room, and how he is staying busy during the coronavirus pandemic.
The positive response from Redditors included a frequent question: could Pepper convince other players to hold future AMAs?
“We’re really able to mine information from the Redditors, and now what we’re going to do is we’re going to take that and we are going to start a weekly AMAs series ourselves to really help fans get more insight into the organization,” Sandall said.
As a part of the Dolphins’ “Weekly Wednesday” sessions on Reddit, tight end Mike Gesicki held his own AMA on April 15. He responded to questions about any potential number changes, how to build team camaraderie during this unusual time, and what it is like being a rookie on draft day.
“We really want to expand on Reddit,” Sandall said. “The Dolphins aren’t just about football day in and day out. There’s a lot of other people that have interesting things to talk about.”
The Dolphins’ interest in diving deeper into Reddit is not surprising, given the team’s tech company focus.
Every winter, Sandall and her team have their own version of the “West Coast Swing,” where they travel to California to touch base with social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. This year, they sought to expand that group.
“We said, who else do we need to see? And we said, let’s talk to Reddit,” Sandall recalled. “Several of us on the team had started kind of engaging with Reddit a little bit more personally. There was a Dolphins subreddit that’s of course run by fans, and I was always going in there because I just thought it was fascinating to see what they were saying.”
After visiting the Dolphins’ official subreddit, which boasts nearly 64,000 followers, Sandall and her team traveled to Reddit headquarters in San Francisco to explore ways for the club to get involved with the platform.
Since launching in late February, the Dolphins have more than 170 Reddit followers and nearly 6,300 karma, a score given for posting and commenting on the platform. This is good for fourth in the NFL across both official accounts and subreddits. They are also one spot ahead of the Ravens’ karma score of 5,751, which is fifth-best in the league.
Patrick Crawley, director of digital programming at the NFL, is encouraged by the Dolphins’ early success on Reddit.
“The Dolphins are really leveraging that well in the first couple of weeks that they’ve been involved,” Crawley said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for other teams as well to reach really hardcore fans in a new and exciting way.”
“I think they’re on a great track so far,” Crawley added. “They’re speaking really conversationally with their audience on Reddit in the Dolphins’ subreddit community and they’ve lined up some exciting AMA opportunities. I think they’re well on their way to having a lot of success on that platform.”
Since the NFL officially joined Reddit on January 16, 2019, it has built an overall karma of more than 339,160.
The league also sees Reddit as a unique opportunity to tap into an avid audience that is different from the typical fan – but equally as passionate. After joining the platform, the league participated in an AMA series after agreeing to a wider digital content and advertising deal with Reddit on Sept. 6, 2019.
With an expanded NFL and Reddit relationship, it only makes sense for more teams to embrace it as well, said Alexandra Riccomini, senior director of business development and media partnerships at Reddit.
“Getting involved with the Dolphins was a no-brainer,” Riccomini said. “Given the success we’ve seen with integrating the NFL league onto the Reddit platform, we expected teams to see similar success. They’ve hit the ground running – a personal favorite is their handwashing guide video, to the tune of the Dolphins’ song. A true sign of the times!”
While they are still relatively new to Reddit, Sandall is confident that the Dolphins are built for it in both the short and long-term future. For one, it’s helping the team connect with fans in ways they wouldn’t otherwise.
When she was first learning to understand Reddit, Sandall discovered a post on the Dolphins’ subreddit from a schoolteacher who was neither a fan of football nor the Dolphins. Derek Fischer,a dietician teacher at Greenwood Community High School in Greenwood, Ind., works with a special needs student who is a die-hard Dolphins fan, even wearing a different team outfit everyday.
The student, Connor Yeager, was under the impression that Fischer was also a fan. Trying to build a deeper connection with him, Fischer turned to Reddit to ask Redditors about why they are Dolphins fans, who the best players are both currently and all-time, and how the defense is looking.
After watching the responses pour in, Sandall told her team to track down Fischer so they could send him Dolphins swag for Yeager. She then found out that both Fischer and Yeager lived in Indiana – just as the Dolphins were scheduled to take on the Indianapolis Colts.
The Dolphins ended up not only bringing Fischer and Yeager to the game, but they had them stop by the team hotel the day before. Defensive lineman Davon Godchaux greeted Yeager and presented him with a team jersey, tickets, and pregame sideline passes to the Colts game.
Every Dolphin said hello to the pair, including Yeager’s childhood hero, Dolphins legend Dan Marino. After the Dolphins upset the Colts, 16-12, on November 10, Yeager relished in the moment with a visit to the Dolphins’ locker room to celebrate the come-from-behind victory.
“It became just the greatest story of how Reddit can be a really good place,” Sandall said. “It was just the most heartwarming story, and a great way to make sure that we’re constantly looking for what our fans are doing out there and constantly figuring out ways that we can have an impact in our community.”