The Kansas City Chiefs have had a whirlwind season. After nearly losing their quarterback early in the season, they battled back to clinch a playoff spot and a first round buy among a league of incredibly tough competitors. And the players on the field aren’t the only ones excelling. The Chiefs’ social media team has been topping the charts in nearly every category this season, often growing significantly faster than the league average. We talked with Chiefs’ social media manager, Alex Merry, and digital media analyst, Gaby Timmen, on some of the factors contributing to the team’s success.
I’d like to start with your Instagram. Simply put, I think it’s a work of art. Not to mention you’ve grown your Instagram audience by an average of 4.3% per month (compared to NFL league average of 2.1% as tracked in the Conviva Social Insights NFL Leaderboard during the same time). We especially loved the #VamosChiefs content from your game in Mexico.
Can you talk a little bit about the strategy that goes on behind the scenes for something like the #VamosChiefs content?
Our Instagram has definitely been one of our areas of focus in the off-season and especially coming into the 2019 season. Although images and videos can be shared on Twitter and Facebook, Instagram is, through-and-through, a visuals-based platform and that influences the content we share. We have found that, through the help of Conviva’s insights, certain content performs better on Instagram compared to other platforms. For example, more dramatic, unique camera angles, graphics, and illustrations are more than likely to gain more impressions and engagements due to the creative nature/audience that Instagram has fostered. Before pre-season even began, our social team wanted to ensure that, when scrolling through our Instagram feed, users could tell immediately which content came from each game week. This idea helped inspire the Mexico City grid style you see on our page. The Mexico City game was an exciting opportunity for us to do something out of the norm, so we wanted it to stand out on our feed. One of our graphic designers put together a template that we plugged photos and videos into in-game, allowing the grid to look seamlessly connected the entire day.
What KPIs are you looking at on Instagram to determine success of a campaign like #VamosChiefs?
The KPI’s and metrics that we focus on week-to-week are primarily impressions, reach, engagement rate, and video views. Although so much of our content’s performance is based on team performance and standings in the NFL, we pride ourselves on having engaging content that fans want to interact with.
I noticed you post some fantastic branded content partnerships on your Instagram Stories. How does your branded content approach on Instagram Stories differ from other platforms like Facebook or Twitter?
Our approach to Instagram stories is a lot more relaxed than any of our other produced content. Instagram Stories are typically less polished, meaning that they can have a more authentic “behind the scenes” feel to them. We use this same approach with our branded content, which seems to resonate well with the audience.
Looking at all your social platforms, how does your content change and evolve as the season goes on and (now that it’s clinched) into the playoffs?
There’s definitely an evolution to content over the season. Our team does a great job of monitoring the types of content that perform well and adjusting our strategy throughout the year to better reflect that. Our content also changes based on opponent. We tend to post more matchup-specific content against a divisional opponent, for example.
The Chiefs’ Facebook is a powerhouse. In December, you ranked 1st on the Conviva Social Insights NFL Leaderboard in average engagements per post and top 3 for average engagements and views per video, beating out numerous teams that have 4x the following on Facebook.
How does your approach to Facebook differ from other platforms?
We really tailor the content toward the design of the platforms. One of our most used features on Facebook is the livestream function. We often livestream press conferences as well as pre and post-game shows.
How do you use data and analytics to optimize your social strategy?
Conviva has been and will continue to be a significant factor in our social strategy and content optimization. At the base level, we can easily view which content is performing best and which needs improvement. In addition, Conviva makes it easy to compile specific posts and recurring content so, at the end of the season, we can go back and determine its pattern of performance and determine our social strategy heading into the 2020 season.
Lastly, we’ve noticed you’re building a TikTok and already have a pretty significant following there, what opportunities do you see for the Chiefs in the future on TikTok?
TikTok has, by far, been our fasting growing platform, adding over 300k followers since late-September. Similar to all platforms, our social team has identified our targeted demographic on this channel, more specifically a younger 10-18 year old audience, and created content that is more behind-the-scenes, trending, and engaging towards that fan base. We look forward to the opportunity to continue growing this platform and targeting that audience!
Special thanks to Alex and Gaby for taking the time to do this interview.
Alex Merry is the Social Media Manager and Gaby Timmen is a Digital Media Analyst for the Kansas City Chiefs.