By: Parth Shah, @shah_parth_
It's Sunday so you know what that means! Time for a brand-new Social Media Seven, hot off the presses. Find a comfortable spot, kick back, and enjoy this week's best content!
1. Seattle Sounders FC
The Pacific Northwest is buzzing, with the Sounders finally getting over the hump and making the organization's first MLS Cup final. Seattle had 60,000 fans show up for their semifinal first leg win at home vs. Colorado, and although they will be on the road for the final, the fanbase is alive and well. They are also one of Major League Soccer's most followed teams on social media, and they certainly delivered this week. Professional sports teams tend to have more refined scoring play graphics, and the Sounders' social team has put together one of the best in MLS. The Western Conference champions graphic is clean and effective, and most importantly bold. They followed this up with fantastic supplementary content that builds on the mood on the field and in the locker room, giving fans a taste of the celebration on their phones or in their living rooms. Showing the team raising the trophy on the podium is a historic moment to capture, and only makes fans more excited to see it again at MLS Cup. Also, that victory dance? Pretty sweet moves, boys.
2. Indiana Hoosiers Basketball
Indiana lives for its basketball. The state, which is the home of the great sport, remains incredibly passionate, especially for its Hoosiers, a program steeped in tradition and success. There are high expectations for this year's team, and they have been up to the challenge so far. With the Big Ten - ACC Challenge back for another year, social media teams were licking their chops with the action-packed high profile slate of games. The Hoosiers hosted the Tar Heels in a top 10 showdown in primetime, and the game did not disappoint. Turnout was never going to be an issue, but providing a scene for fans to emulate in Assembly Hall is something that Indiana's social media strived for. The hype video will make any college basketball fan excited, and it does well to not only promote the game but also the sport. The graphic design team was hard at work and owned the Hoosier red color scheme to perfection. They produced some clean, sharp graphics that look great and contain the right amount of information. They also gave a shout out to the fans who packed Assembly Hall, and what a sight it was. The challenge for Indiana is not becoming an elite program, it is taking the basketball program to national powerhouse status once again and becoming a fan favorite. Can they take the jump to the same tier as a Kentucky, Duke, or UNC? The Hoosiers look like they're headed in the right direction, on and off the court.
3. Duke Athletics
Duke Athletics took a fantastic step this week on social media, making the move to roll out a consistent look on all of their accounts, including an alignment of the Duke brand across each of their sports programs. This is something that is crucial for brand success, and takes steps in reducing confusion finding accounts, while increasing visibility. This enables more accounts to show up when 'Duke' is searched for on Twitter, and ensures a complete message that the program is united and on the same page. For a school so heavily driven by its basketball culture, it is cool to see a unified approach to social media. I look forward to seeing how this new format impacts content sharing and cross-linking between accounts compared to the past. Teams and organizations that don't currently do this, take notes. If a program as established as Duke can take progressive steps to make their brand more visible, so can you! Huge teaching point. Well done in the social media alignment, Blue Devils.
4. Buffalo Sabres
It's been a tough few seasons in Buffalo, as the Sabres have struggled to put butts in seats and win games. However, with an infusion of young talent and experience, the team has begun to turn it around and show promise, much to the excitement of the fan base. Much of this success and buzz comes at the stick of last year's first round draft pick, Jack Eichel, who is already proving to be an impact player in the NHL. The Sabres' social team has made funny graphics for each player scoring a goal, which does wonders when it comes to followers sharing these updates. They keep things light-hearted, while looking great on a Twitter timeline. They've also embraced pop culture, including the new Kermit the Frog meme, which they used to perfection to continue touting Eichel. Also, taking a shot at your opponent after a victory, especially when you break a streak of theirs is always extra fun for a fan base. With this social media strategy, the Sabres are sure to win younger fans online. Let's hope their play on the ice keeps them for the long term!
5. Sacramento Kings
The Kings are slowly becoming a top social media account to follow, and I am locking them in as one of my sleeper picks. Yep, you heard it here first! They've done an excellent job posting content that is fun and engaging, striking a great balance between witty humor and professional management of social media. After their matchup against the 76ers in Philadelphia was postponed due to condensation on the floor, Sacramento's social team went to work to pick up a win off the court. DeMarcus Cousins is the face of the franchise, and utilizing him as a focal point of social media is a smart strategy. Empower your star player even more in the eyes of your followers! (Of course, don't neglect your other players and members, but in general, pull factor comes from the big games and bigger personalities). The team's Twitter account proceeded to roast the 76ers in numerous separate occasions, including finding a hysterically relevant mock clip of the famous 'Shamwow' commercials and taking a shot at the "process" that is so often used to describe the Sixers' rebuild. Also, the video of the kid sliding on his stomach was absolutely hysterical. Well played, Kings. Well played.
6. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have exceeded many expectations this season on the field, and with this success comes an energized fan base that is enjoying every minute of their victories. In today's mobile-driven culture, fans are always anticipating big moments and many always have their phones out to capture them. Miami's social team cut together a really cool montage video of the final play, from different fans' perspectives. Not only do followers appreciate organic, personable content that originated from people like them, but it also encourages fans to capture more, to share more, and to feel more a part of the action in the stadium. This video has a similar feel to Snapchat's event stories, just with multiple angles of the same play. It will be interesting to see if this is a once in awhile strategy, or something that the Dolphins (and other teams) try and do more often.
7. In Memoriam: Chapecoense
Earlier in the week, Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense was on its way to play in the Copa Sudamericana Final for the first time in the organization's young, fairytale history. Tragically, the team's plane crashed over Medellin in Colombia, with members and players passing away as a result. It is important to remember how precious life is, and that sports are just a small part of our world. Treasure each and every moment you spend with your loved ones, and enjoy your life to the fullest. Don't let any minute pass you by. Do what excites you, what makes you happy. Make a difference for others. Appreciate the little things that we may take for granted. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Chapecoense, Brazil, the soccer community, and the family, friends, and fans of the beloved players and staff. May they rest in peace. Above is the last video of the players. True warriors.