Without any games or live events, New Orleans’ most notable sports teams have rolled out a new daily social media content series that is helping to keep the teams top of mind with fans.
Called #HomeTeamTV and spread across the workweek, both the Pelicans and Saints are releasing content geared to be fun and interactive for fans.
The teams have some natural ability to work together: they’re both owned by Gayle Benson, which has enabled them to work more together to develop their online presences, said Jen Martindale, the organizations’ vice president of brand strategy. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has led both teams to increase their digital efforts beyond game-driven content.
“It’s forced us to innovate in terms of the types of content we’re creating,” Martindale said. “While #HomeTeamTV is a new concept, it felt like this was the right time to just build upon the great work each content team’s been doing for seasons now.”
Launched on April 6, The #HomeTeamTV series is intended to provide both Pelicans and Saints fans with not only evergreen content, but material that is also uniquely branded and interactive across the five days.
That begins with Mental Health Mondays, which is sponsored by Ochsner Health. People like Saints team yoga instructor Jessica Huneycutt and registered dietician Molly Kimball work with the Pelicans on how to practice mindful breathing and limit one’s chances of stress eating.
On Turnt-Up Tuesdays, both Martin and Shaneika Dabney-Henderson, the Pelicans’ and Saints’ vice president of production, wanted to highlight other staffers in their organizations. One of their most popular posts came on April 14, when the Saintsations – the Saints’ official cheerleaders – did their own rendition of the #DontRushChallenge. As of April 29, the video, which was sponsored by Zatarain’s, has generated more than 642,000 views on Facebook alone.
“Turnt-Up Tuesdays are just about having fun and showing members of our staff and our dance team on both sides having fun at their homes,” Dabney-Henderson said. “We’re trying to send that messaging to people who are stuck inside of, ‘we’re all in the same boat, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun.’”
Whereas Monday and Tuesdays have a coordinated theme, Wildcard Wednesdays are more open-ended. One week featured Saints star Cameron Jordan reading Rudy’s Baby Brother to kids. Another saw Saints head coach Sean Payton conduct a Facebook Watch interview with famed musician Jimmy Buffett. The full 50-minute chat, sponsored by Entergy, drew more than 146,000 views on Facebook and has become the most-popular #HomeTeamTV post.
With Take-out Thursdays, both the Pelicans and Saints are using their more notable faces to support local businesses by ordering takeout food. One episode allowed followers to watch David Griffin, the Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations, and his wife order takeout food from local restaurant Bearcat Cafe. On April 23, Saints tight end Josh Hill was the face of Take-out Thursday as he recorded himself ordering food at home and driving to pick it up at the restaurant.
To raise awareness for the businesses that are open, the Pelicans and Saints have asked them to record videos letting people know about their availability for the teams to share across their social media channels.
Fitness Fridays, sponsored by Louisiana Blue Cross, have the teams’ talent create at-home workouts for people to incorporate into their daily routine. Saints punter Thomas Morstead and his family demonstrated numerous leg-squat workouts for people at home to try. Similarly, Pelicans vice president of player performance Aaron Nelson and his wife did stretches ranging from planks to floor bridges.
Given the larger-than-life nature of professional athletes, Dabney-Henderson believes that Fitness Fridays can offer sports fans an exclusive look into their daily lifestyles.
“This time of year, they would be so focused on the game, you wouldn’t be seeing this kind of stuff from them,” Dabney-Henderson said. “It’s connecting our fans to them and in a really fun way and doing it in a way that is meant for social consumption. It’s meant for those short attention spans and just meant to be a reminder that we’re still here, we still care about our fans, we still want to hear from them, and we still want to engage with them.”
Even without live events, #HomeTeamTV has helped both the Saints and Pelicans remain relevant on social media. In the first week, videos drew 518,000 views on the Saints’ social media channels and 312,000 on the Pelicans’ channels.
It helped the Saints climb to number two on Facebook and number four on Instagram for total engagement among the NFL’s 32 teams – an improvement from being ranked 21st and 18th in those respective categories last year during the same time frame.
For the Pelicans, #HomeTeamTV has helped them rise to 16th and 11th in Facebook and Instagram rankings, respectively, amongst NBA teams. Last year during that same time frame, they ranked 30th in both categories.
Now in its third week, #HomeTeamTV viewers have grown to more than 474,000 and 1.12 million for the Pelicans and Saints, respectively. The Saints have since become number two and five in Facebook and Instagram engagement, respectively, while the Pelicans sit at 15th and 11th.
After uncertainty around what content is appropriate during this time, Martindale is encouraged that various themes are connecting with both Pelicans and Saints fans.
“The biggest change for us has just been realizing we’ve got to get some of that more entertainment, fun stuff in there that’s not just player-driven content and not just plays from the game,” Martindale said. “I don’t know that it’s fundamentally shifted, but we’ve certainly upped our content that’s not just coming from players.”
Dabney-Henderson has also been impressed with how Pelicans and Saints staffers are coming together to deliver compelling material for those needing a break from the many challenges they are living in.
“We’ve been finding in this space that we’re able to do a lot more than we thought we could do,” she said. “These challenges have brought about innovation, and we’ve found ways to get around certain limitations. We’re not putting any limitations on what it is that we might try – some stuff might not work out, and we’re totally okay with that. But we know that the more that we try stuff, the more likely it is that we’re going to find something that helps to satisfy the appetites of fans who don’t have anything to go to in the sports space right now.”