By admin - March 28th, 2017

The NFL’s Los Angeles Rams hit paydirt with a first-of-its-kind social media campaign that not only engaged fans, but also enfranchised them with a stake in the team's decision making.

The team, which returned last year to LA after two decades playing in St. Louis, enlisted fans via Facebook and Twitter to vote on two modifications to the team’s uniforms.
More than 90,000 people cast virtual votes on the platforms. Rams followers voted on pant stripes: a single wide one or two narrow strip. And then also on the color of the helmet’s facemask: either navy or white.
These may seem like minor points to some, but NFL league office officials say they don’t know of any teams allowing fans to vote directly like this on uniform alterations; although focus groups and fan polling are normally part of any rebranding or alteration.
It’s all part of the Rams evolution back to their roots when they previously played in LA, especially the vintage years of the 1960s and 1970s. Those teams had a predominantly blue and white palette that eventually became more blue and gold as the team first moved to nearby Anaheim and then eventually St. Louis.
The team is tweaking the look, and minimizing the gold, ahead of an overhaul due in 2019 when the Rams open their new $2.X billion stadium.
Dan August, VP of Strategy, LA Rams discussed the novel outreach of the team’s social playbook with Open Mobile Media’s Robert Gray…
 
OMM: How did you get the idea for the campaign?
August:The idea came from having options the NFL and (the league’s uniform outfitter) Nike gave us to tweak our uniform and remove gold from pants and go to helmets that had such a positive reception last season. With the helmets we said we wanted one of the two facemasks, we really liked both. We talk about being fan first and a few of us said why don’t we let the fans weigh in on this.
Each vote was for 24 hours. The pants were the first vote for 24 hours, and then when that was complete, we put up the helmet for 24 hours.
                                                                        
OMM: Was this easy to put together?
August: We talk about how we engage fans digitally. We seek engagement on digital platforms and create content our fans would seek. When we used the (blue and white) helmets on Thursday Night Football last season, it was one of top posts for reach and engagement so we knew the social audience would like to react to this and what colors they like.
 
OMM: How did you decide which platforms to use?
August:We selected FaceBook (@Rams) and Twitter (@RamsNFL), given the voting platforms they have set up and the data we can pull. It’s not just poling data on what people said, but reading comments, checking out impressions to check out the success beyond checking A and B (to select their preference), they’re the strongest platforms from that perspective. We made an Instagram story to see the uniforms but it’s less for voting.
 
OMM: You tabulated 90,000 votes across the two social platforms in two days. How would you characterize the voting volume?
August: That’s not counting people who put in comments, just pure votes…We were happy with the votes alone, thrilled and surprised with total engagement. We didn’t realize how much people would want to engage and have a voice. Fans hadn’t been a part of this (decision-making process) before and they said, “it’s great to be a part of this.”
Reach figures place this in top 10 posts over the past 3 months or so.
 
OMM: Which vote got more action—facemask or pants stripe?
August:It was pretty close to an even split, about 45,000 for each (ballot).
 
OMM: For those keeping score at home, how did the results pan out?
August: The first vote, for the pants, the Twitter vote was 52 percent to 48 percent for the one stripe. On FaceBook there was more disparity, mid-60s percent to mid 30s percent.
For the facemask—it was more of a runaway. Fans on side of the white facemask, on Twitter it was 64 percent to 36 percent and on FaceBook it was 53 percent to 47 percent.
 
OMM: So the Rams will play with one stripe on their pants leg and a white facemask next season. You limited the choices and the amount of voting time—was this a case of keeping it simple and trying to compel voters to act now?
August: We didn’t want to drag it out for weeks and weeks, we set up a timeline as we discussed with the NFL. We thought quick hits consecutively and doing an announcement was better to build interest.
 
OMM: What did league say when you presented this plan to them?
August:The league was intrigued as we talk about rebranding looking to 2019. We said we wanted fans to have a voice in the full rebrand. As we talked about tweaks they understood where we were coming from. They were involved throughout the process.
 
OMM: Is this a sign of more fan engagement via social media – giving the fan more of a stake in the team?
August: For us, that’s what we want to do. We want fans to feel like they can be close to us and have a say. We’ve taken ideas from fans and meetings with them. As we look to rebrand for 2019 we’ll do outreach to find out what fans want from the team.
Social is a huge outreach for us, to build more of a one-to-one relationship with our fans.
 
OMM: Are you aggregating these fans’ handles and social graphs for future outreach?
August: We’re not taking any information of the fans that voted to use for anything. There’s no direct marketing from this. What it’s taught us is there is fan interest. As simple as one or two stripes may sound simple, but we’re trying to find ways to get fans involved in the rebranding and other parts of our business.
 
OMM: What other social campaigns do the Rams have on tap?
August: Currently the one we launched, the “Guess Our Games” contest. We’re continually trying to push the envelope. The Rams were the first team to do that a few years ago, for a $100,000 prize. Now we’re upping the ante. It’s things like that, the schedule release is coming out, so let’s build interest and see if fans can guess it—and if they do, we’ll give them a million dollars. We’re continually looking for ways to keep them engaged.
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