By: Parth Shah, @shah_parth_
It's that time again! Welcome to this week's edition of the Social Media Seven, where we recognize the best in social media sports. Get your thumbs ready, because we highly recommend swiping right!
1. Thursday Night Football on Twitter
The NFL kicked off its Thursday Night Football coverage partnership with Twitter this week, with the Jets and Bills squaring off in Orchard Park. While the first time wasn't perfect (is it ever?), there is plenty of optimism about the future of Twitter's live streaming coverage. The company announced a rollout on platforms such as Apple TV and Amazon Fire, as well as extending coverage to more sporting events to come. Check out our very own DJ Podgorny's recap on the NFL Twitter Live Stream here! Please comment us your thoughts on the stream! We were surprised with the surprisingly strong stream quality and lack of buffering. However, the timeline curation may need work, as fans griped that they would rather just see their own feed. Onwards and upwards, into the next generation of enjoying sports!
2. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are at it again! Atlanta consistently is one of the best social media teams in sports, and their creativity was on display once again. Famous for their Tinder-theme nights at the arena, the Hawks put swiping to work again, this time on the logos of the franchise's history. Although the post looks to have limited interaction at first glance, the results of the swipe game has thousands of players. Combining a pop culture trend like Tinder with the organizational history may seem odd, but it appeals to younger and older fans alike. It allows fans to learn more about the Hawks' past and present in a fun, interactive way. Well done, Atlanta.
3. EA Sports Madden NFL
The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys faced off in a Week 1 rivalry game in Arlington last weekend. The back and forth affair came down to the final possession. Pressed for time without any timeouts, Dallas began driving down the field in hopes of entering field goal range. With just a few ticks left, Dallas' Terrance Williams hauled in a pass and attempted to take it up field. Instead of taking himself out of bounds to stop the clock, Williams was tackled in-bounds, allowing the clock to run out on the Cowboys' attempted comeback. EA Sports, makers of the Madden NFL series, does well on social media, posting funny content in context to the games being played in real life. They decided to have some fun with Williams' bonehead move, tweeting that his awareness rating was dropping significantly. Posts like this are harmless, poking fun at on-field play, and have a high level of virality if executed properly. Clearly, this one made quite an impression with the fans. As for Terrance Williams? You may want to drop him down your Madden depth charts, at least for now.
4. Baltimore Ravens
With Apple's release of iOS 10 came a huge overhaul update to iMessage. The new Messages app now is more "fun-friendly," with users having the ability to send animated messages, handwriting, GIFs, emojis, and much more with the touch of a button. The Ravens became the first team this week to release and offer custom branded content for Messages, a smart move to take the lead on what will most likely be a strategy of many, if not all, teams. Having content embedded within Messages allows the team to reach fans in an extra way, while also increasing promotion and share-ability of the brand, especially amongst their younger fans. It will be interesting to see how improvements are made along this strategy to continually offer new content, as well as how other teams develop their own packages for Messages and how they differ.
5. Nebraska Huskers
The Nebraska Huskers' social media team, which has drawn our attention this season, also dazzled this week. With the ranked Oregon Ducks paying the Cornhuskers a visit in Lincoln this week, there was increased anticipation for Saturday's game. The social media team put together a really cool mini video to promote the matchup, detailing how long it had been since the Ducks had been in town. The caption was perfectly put, as it is a struggle that many kids and adults faced growing up playing games on systems such as GameBoy. This video has the perfect amount of nostalgia, getting older fans excited for the game as well. Creative content on social media does extremely well, as followers want things different from the norm that appears on their timeline. Thanks Nebraska, now I really want to go play some Super Mario.
6. Minnesota Vikings
It's an exciting time in Minnesota, as the Vikings open up their brand new, state-of-the-art stadium Sunday night against the rival Green Bay Packers. The fan base is understandably excited, and the Vikings want to capture and convert this into a tremendous response for their home opener. They put together this video, hoping to convey the spirit and passion behind the team, and what being a fan, no, being a Viking is all about. Watching this makes fans proud and excited to represent the brand, to consider themselves a part of the franchise. It also pushes the Viking Chant, which has grown in popularity after Euro 2016. Expect a raucous atmosphere inside U.S. Bank Stadium!
7. Darren Rovell, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Wild
Harambe has captured the hearts and minds of many across the country after this tragic death in the Cincinnati Zoo a few months ago. There has been an overwhelming response to the gorilla's shooting, as Harambe has turned into a cult hero, a national icon, and one of the most popular pop culture trends of the year. The NFL had decided to block fans from customizing their jerseys to say 'HARAMBE' on the back, perhaps attempting to squash its influence on the league, especially with the Cincinnati Bengals. The New Orleans Saints pointed out this sad fact to fans in response to Darren Rovell's tweet, as many were immediately disappointed. The Minnesota Wild decided to join in on the fun, suggesting not so subtly to fans that they could in fact customize a Wild jersey with 'HARAMBE'. Fun, promoting your brand, and referencing pop culture. Check, check, and check.
Update: The NFL has lifted the ban and fans are welcome to customize their jerseys with 'HARAMBE' to recognize their fallen hero. The league cited a "mistake."