Buffalo Bills Social Media SWO (no T) Analysis

Many professional sports teams use their social media accounts in unique ways. Today, I want to look at how social media is used by the biggest embarrassment of the NFL (HINT: not the Cleveland Browns), the Buffalo Bills.

Strengths

  • Looking through the Bills’ social media, they have little videos that are very interesting and catch the attention of fans.

Here, the video from their Instagram account shows all the different uniform combinations, while then finally zooming in on the uniform pieces they will actually be using in the upcoming game. I found this effective because it relayed a message to fans in a fun way, rather than simply saying what they will be wearing. There could have been a worded post, or even a post with a basic picture of the uniform, but that would never have had the reach across the internet as this did.

Another example of fun videos for the Buffalo Bills is posted on their Twitter page. This was a brief video of a Bills linebacker going on a ride along with the Buffalo Police Department, talking to the police officer, interacting with children, and helping to teach the children important life lessons. Not being a Bills fan, I would be intrigued by, and completely watch, this entire video. Being able to captivate people who have absolutely no connection to the team is a sign of effective social media usage.

These are very effective uses of social media to draw in fans.

  • In addition, a strength the Bills show is an emphasis on family and children. Looking on Pinterest, the Bills have three different folders that caught my eye: “Baby Bills,” “BILLIEVE,” and “Bills Families.” Having these folders help make the team seem more than just what is on the scoreboard (as it is probably an ugly score anyways) and that there are other important things in life for everyone. People love babies in athletic gear, almost everyone (unfortunately) has some connection to breast cancer, and happy families all wearing their Bills gear unsolicited, are all effective on social media. It was wise for the Bills to take advantage of this.

Another good example of this comes from their Facebook page where the team is looking for their next “Fuel Up to Play 60 Kickoff Kid.” This contest gives a child an opportunity to go onto the field of an NFL team, probably making a dream come true. Getting children involved with a team is almost always a good move for publicity and for the perception of the team to the public. Also, these types of posts should spread quickly because almost everyone knows a child that “would be perfect for this,” leading it to be shared and people to be tagged multiple times.

Weaknesses

  • One weakness I have seen across all forms of social media, is there lack of fans and followers. Social media can only be effective if they have access to enough people through it. Comparing the Bills to the Detroit Lions on followers on the three most popular social media platforms shows that the Bills are clearly not as widely followed online as other NFL teams. This in itself is a huge disadvantage. It is much easier to create content for huge fan bases that love their team more than anything. However, for a terrible team with a smaller online presence, it forces each post to be that much more crucial.
  • Also, how saturated the Bills consistently make their social media accounts is a weakness as well. Sending out posts is an art for these social media page managers; not sending posts out too often or too far and few between is critical for basic success. After trying to scroll through months worth of tweets and posts, it is clear that the Bills are posting too often for their own good.

From examples of their Facebook and Twitter pages above, it shows how they were posting different content about every single hour on September 21. For many users (especially with social media habits like myself), there is not nearly enough time between posts for their fans to both see and react to them. Plus, if the team is followed on multiple platforms, it would be even more frustrating to constantly be seeing posts no matter where you looked. The Bills should be more selective when they post, and how often they post, in order not to dominate fans’ feeds and thus not aggravate their target audiences.

Opportunities

  • One aspect of the Bills’ social media that seems to be missing is interactive tools to directly interact with their fans. It’s critical to connect with fans and one of the best ways is through posts that require action from the fans themselves: polls, giveaways, etc. I scrolled through many, many, many posts from the Bills and it was difficult to find one of these posts. However, visiting the Lions’ Twitter page led me to find one of theirs rather quickly.

Not only will these types of posts help the team resonate with the fans — building a stronger bond — but also help build their brand. Team giveaways from retweets and shares can help the fans get excited about the team and help them share the pages with their friends (who may happen to be other potential fans).

  • The Bills are also missing an opportunity to market towards millennials, specifically through the use of Snapchat. By following their official Snapchat channel for three days, there was never anything fun that caught my eye. In fact, it was extremely boring. Below is an example of a post.

The post is literally a picture of a plane, the coach walking to the plane, and a few players walking to the plane (a similar post showed the same players walking into the stadium). This platform is used almost exclusively by a young generation, but the strategies the team implements is not representative of that. The Bills would use Snapchat much more effectively if they have more fun with it: player take-overs, the coach talking to the fans, etc. This will make the team connect better with the fans and help the fans get excited about the Bills in the future.

Just because the Bills have weak play on the field, does not mean they need to have weak play online.