Digital Marketing Showcase: Carolina Panthers

by Kristin Nelson, Chief Digital Strategist - Aug 23, 2018

Nothing beats the feeling of a Carolina Panthers game day. The cheers from Panthers Nation as they don their colorful slate of uniform jerseys. The pounding of the “Keep Pounding” drum ceremony before kickoff. The intensity as flames and smoke surround the tunnel while Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen and Thomas Davis make their grand entrance onto the gridiron.

But here’s the kicker (pun intended); you’re not at the game. You’re experiencing all of this through the Panthers’ Instagram, Twitter and Facebook from the digital marketing masterminds at the Carolina Panthers.

I think the Carolina Panthers’ social media game is as strong as defensive tackle Kawann Short.

The Carolina Panthers' digital marketing team posts highly-engaging content that has created a strong brand for the NFL team.

As of August 2018, their digital media team has grown the Panthers to an impressive 2.3 million Facebook followers, 3 million Twitter followers and 1.4 million Instagram followers. To put this all into perspective, the Atlanta Falcons (the Panthers arch nemesis) has 2 million Facebook followers, 2.3 million Twitter followers and 829,000 Instagram followers… just sayin’.

So what makes the Panthers’ social media such a success? The key is fan engagement, thrilling videos and creative antics that have caught the eyes of people across the nation. And that is no easy feat to do and as fellow digital marketing peers, we admire the heck out of it.

#PanthersLogoChallenge

Unlike many other NFL teams, the Carolina Panthers’ logo has never been painted on the 50-yard line. Instead, the team had opted to put the NFL shield at midfield. But it has been the dream of Panthers Nation to walk into Bank of America Stadium and see the Carolina Panther painted on the field.

The digital media team created the #PanthersLogoChallenge in an effort to convince the new team owner, David Tepper, that the panther head should be on the 50-yard line.

The Carolina Panthers digital marketing team created a Panther Logo Challenge to create engagement among fans.

I believe this campaign idea is a touchdown with a 2-point conversion because it urges fans to get engaged by taking pictures of the Carolina Panthers’ logo everywhere and using their campaign hashtag. I searched for the hashtag on social media and discovered there have been more than 1,000 posts on Instagram with the hashtag, along with countless Facebook posts and tweets using the tag. This is a genius digital campaign result.

The Panthers’ digital team has also been creating videos with Tepper to keep fans on edge about the decision. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the logo will be there the first game of the regular season.

Victorious Videos

The Carolina Panthers’ digital media team has mastered the art of getting crowd-engaging video on their social media… especially on Instagram.

When you visit the Panthers’ pages, you will find terrific touchdowns, incredible interceptions and show-stopping sacks from game footage. But you know what…we can watch that on ESPN. Here’s the thing, though, that we can’t see.

It’s the behind-the-scenes moments off the field that show the players as everyday people. You will see Cam giving his son Chosen a kiss before he heads onto the field, or you get a glimpse into the training room to see what it takes to be an all-star athlete, and you will see the moments when players interact with their fans because they have always said, “the fan is the most valuable member of our team.”

 

The Carolina Panthers digital marketing team shares behind-the-scenes moments with players so fans can feel more connected to the team.  

It’s these kinds of videos that connect fans to the team in a magical way. It also makes followers more prone to like, share and comment on these videos which helps to boost the Panthers at the top of your social feed. Again, another genius digital marketing move.

Silly Team Antics

Now, the digital team doesn’t take a break during the off-season. They continue to have fun with fans to keep the momentum going and the engagement strong.

One fun social media stunt they came up with in July 2017 gained national attention. Do you remember the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air tweet? It took three days for the social media team to pull it off, and it went crazy viral!

The Carolina Panthers tweeted, “Now go back and read the first word of our tweets from the last three days.” You better believe that everyone went back and read the first word of each tweet from the past three days. Once they did, they found themselves reciting the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!

The Carolina Panthers digital marketing created a viral moment when they had the first word of the tweets from the last three days create the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song.

I think this is just fun! These little slices of creative social genius attract people who may not be the biggest football fan, but they also attract the mega Panther fan base and feed their insatiable appetites with satisfying chunks of team spirit.

The Panthers social team also likes to have fun with other NFL teams. In April 2016, the Panthers had a Twitter battle with the Jacksonville Jaguars to see who was the coolest cat on the block. The battle included too many cat puns for you to count, but it caught the eye of the Twitter world and had everyone on edge seeing what the next tweet would be!

 

The Carolina Panthers digital marketing team created a tweet battle with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Above everything else, the Carolina Panthers’ digital team makes it a point to interact with fans on social media platforms. This simple act creates engagement, helps the team grow their fan base and also creates a relationship between the team and the fans that wasn’t possible before social media.

So here’s to the 2018-2019 season and hoping the Panthers will #KeepPounding both on the field and in the social media spotlight. From all of us here in the TIP digital marketing team, we salute all of you in the Carolina Panthers digital marketing team!

If we can help you and your team with digital marketing, please contact Jay Joyce at jay@theideapeople.com or call 704-398-4437.

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