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It was the evening of October 12, 2014. The Eagles played their arch-rival New York Giants in front of a national audience on NBC. What made this game unique was the Eagles’ choice of uniform. For the first time ever, the players wore their black jerseys with black pants to match. All black uniform during a night time game, hence #BlackSunday.
All. Black. Everything. #BlackSunday pic.twitter.com/Go6QbgI1EI — Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 6, 2014
And the Eagles’ social media team was just as surprised as fans were. “We were not aware, were reactionary to the announcement,” Director of Digital and Social Media Linda Thomas told Billy Penn, describing how the events unfolded.
“There was a super moon that night. Also, Boyz II Men performed during halftime and something happened that never happened … the lights were dimmed while they were performing. It was just an all-around crazy night.”
As a result of that night, the Eagles social media won an ADDY Award — a top advertising prize —for the organization’s digital and social coverage of #BlackSunday. They were also a finalist for a Shorty Award, which honors social media achievements and claims famous people like Apple’s Steve Wozniak in its academy. Thomas is incredibly grateful for the wins.
“We nominated ourselves for these awards because we want people out there to know that we exist,” Thomas says. “We are doing great things, and recognition is important to us.”
How the Eagles use social media
The Eagles have a strong social media presence. The team has a main account on Twitter, but also has seven different Twitter handles for things like Lincoln Financial Field interactions and the team’s pro shop, where merchandise is sold. In addition, the team has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and was the first NFL team to use Snapchat.
“All of our social media is housed under one roof, with a team of three people,” Thomas says. “We monitor all of the channels to figure out fan sentiments, and we look at players’ conversations on their accounts.”
They have hundreds of thousands of followers on the main Twitter account alone, and nearly 2.9 million likes on Facebook.
What fans see from the Eagles on social
With that many fans watching the Eagles’ social media, it would be understandable if the people behind the scenes second-guessed themselves before posting. However, Thomas said there is no fear. “All of our information gets double-checked. It is better to be right than first.”
As far as recognition goes, there is generally more fan engagement when dealing with players, and the Eagles’ social media accounts usually repost interesting things players say. “Hot topics” like player injuries or transactions also tend to result in engagement increases.
#Eagles sign WR Seyi Ajirotutu and DB E.J. Biggers, both to 1-year contracts. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/zxNV3dkyVg
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) April 7, 2015
Thomas told Billy Penn the social media team tries to maintain a nice balance between football and marketing. “You’ll get a sense of Eagles,” she said. “We are the ultimate Eagles fan and expert.”
For example, the @EaglesInsider Twitter account posts a lot of information that pertains to the team’s personnel, which extends outside the locker room.
Just in case you’ve ever wondered how Merrill Reese gets ready for #EaglesDraftCentral: http://t.co/vKS3LIsr0P pic.twitter.com/hmY74KObcl
— Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) April 13, 2015
On the other hand, the Eagles main Twitter account is geared more toward the fans, and getting them excited for upcoming games or events. A Tweet as simple as “#FlyEaglesFly” almost always gets a lot of retweets and favorites.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 12, 2015
What about things like early March, when it looked like Chip Kelly was trading the whole team? Did the team’s social media team get a heads-up? “There is a degree of knowledge of certain situations,” Thomas says. “We read Twitter like everyone else.”
What’s next for the Eagles’ social media?
Some of the goals Thomas and the Eagles social media have moving forward is to get more fan engagement, provide quality content, and generate more traffic.
“It astonishes me how much [social media] is growing,” Thomas said. “It’s our largest audience and has the most interaction.”
Featured image from Philadelphia Eagles Facebook page.