By Caitlin Brennan

November 8th, 2016

It’s a beautiful day here on the virtual gridiron, the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins are poised to give it their all in a battle for NFL social media supremacy! This classic AFC East matchup has post-season implications. Namely, whose social media managers are going to the Pro Bowl and who will be coaching middle school next season. Let’s get to the kickoff:

First Quarter: The underdog bites first on Instagram
With over six million people, the Miami metropolitan area is a great market for pro sports. Only 1.1 million people live in the Buffalo area. To be generous, toss in a million more in neighboring Rochester metro area and that’s still a third of the size of Miami. On Instagram that shows. The Dolphins have more than twice as many followers, and their posts routinely get over 10 thousand likes.

A fan base advantage like Miami’s can be overcome by acknowledging your outsider status. For some brands, an appeal to a long history of industry leadership make sense. Others are upstarts and underdogs. This post has double the engagement of the average Bills post:

Big if true. 👀 #GoBills

A photo posted by Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) on

Take your rival’s pretty-boy quarterback down a notch and play up the blue collar appeal of a bunch of lesser known names from the banks of Lake Erie. Someone at the Bills’ social media desk ate their Flutie Flakes that morning!
The score: Buffalo 7, Miami 0

Second Quarter: Fins’ foreign foibles force fumble
South Florida, aside from having more Shula’s steakhouses than any other state in the union, is also America’s gateway to Latin America. A huge group of NFL fans live in countries like Mexico, Brazil and Argentina:

chartoftheday_3185_countries_with_the_most_nfl_fans_outside_the_us_n

But what do the Dolphins offer Spanish-speaking fans on Twitter? That fresh, innovative content is like Dan Marino’s Super Bowl ring: it doesn’t exist. The official account has not been updated in two years.

No brand should ever leave accounts like this lingering as a permanent testament to a failed initiative. By bringing all your social channels and profiles into one platform like Falcon, you can make sure each individual stream survives personnel changes and mission shifts.
The score: Buffalo 10, Miami 0

Third Quarter: Dolphins run an end-around route
Refreshed and motivated after halftime, the Dolphins have placed special emphasis on their video game by using Facebook Live and Periscope to deliver new content.

Production costs are low but the ability to control the message have gained the Dolphins some serious yards. Doing so across platforms is an extra point, which sails through the uprights.
The score: Buffalo 10, Miami 7

Fourth Quarter: c’mon ref, are you blind?
You may have noticed that these two teams’ social media presence is a bit short on actual football content. Lots of interviews, plenty of professional photography, but light on action. This is because the NFL fines teams up to $100,000 for breaking a new league rule against posting game footage and even animated GIFs of the action, under the belief that they can draw eyeballs seeking that content to the league’s official accounts instead.

The rule makes no sense. After all, the league depends on team loyalty to drive interest through losing seasons and to justify massive spending on licensed merchandise. Taking away a brand-building resource from teams isn’t just unsportsmanlike conduct, it’s unbusinesslike.

That being said, tossing out a challenge flag now won’t change the rules of the game. Your brand may not have league rules to contend with, but there is often a web of regulations and practices a social media manager must be aware of. Policies on attribution, trademarks, advertising claims and other industry-specific restrictions should be clearly written and thoroughly disseminated. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to take those rules in stride with a little humor, like the Philadelphia Eagles.

As the clock wound down, bad umpiring backed up both franchises, resulting in dual safeties.

The final score in this Social Media Bowl is Buffalo 12, Miami 9.

Both teams played their hardest, but the Bills pulled it out due to great efforts to connect with fans. Until next week, this has been Falcon Sports.

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