What can you learn for the NHL’s use of social media?

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A recent tweet by TheHabituals got me thinking about the National Hockey League’s (NHL) forays into social media — something I’ve been following over the past year. The NHL has been toying with social media at least since 2009.  The Director of Corporate Communications — Michael DiLorenzo — has been tweeting since then. Some of his colleagues do too. The NHL also paired up with Gary Vaynerchuk’s VaynerMedia so you know good stuff is happening :)

During the 2009 Stanley Cup finals, the NHL organized tweetups for their fans and since then, the 30 teams have been hopping on Twitter. Some started strong with seat contests, behind the scene pictures and game updates, others, like the Montreal Canadiens, only used the medium to redirecting users to site. Slowly but surely though all teams are using the medium as more than a promotional platform. I don’t know if the smaller market teams learned the the tool faster than the big market teams because they felt the need or if the NHL established some sort of implementation schedule, but the shift to a more open style has been obvious…

What is lacking is conversation with fans.  Anyone of the teams I’ve tweeted, never answered.  I’m either not very popular or that’s a gap in the strategy. That being said, given their slow adoption curve, could this be the next step? I think it could very well be…

It would also be interesting to see them participate on fan blogs and forums as well.

Will this help popularize the league in the US?  Their numbers have been going up (sales, attendance, viewership, etc) and social could have something to do with it. In part, at least.

The conclusion? If a large organization with 30 “regional offices” — all with different challenges and opportunities — can get started, so can you — no matter how big or how small.  Listen to what’s being said (check out Chris Brogan’s post about this) and start slowly, but start. Adapt and evolve as you get more comfortable…

Anything more to add about Social Media and the NHL? What do you think?

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