The New England Patriots have one of the biggest social media brands in the NFL. Found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Snapchat they are constantly posting new information, photos, videos and more to satisfy even the craziest Patriots fan. While they are not one to communicate directly with their fans on these platforms, they pride themselves on having the most behind-the-scenes content in the NFL, and weekly competitions. Included in the Patriot brand are their players, who also have some of the strongest social media content in the NFL.
Since it is football season the Patriots social media conversation is all about recapping the previous game, or looking forward the next game. Knowing the routine in which they post, I created three streams, one for @patriots for Twitter, and #PatsNation for Twitter and @patriots but for Instagram. The Patriots tend to be more active on their Twitter account compared to their Instagram, which is the norm for social media.
Currently, the Patriots are one of six teams in the NFL that are undefeated. After taking the lead of their division, the brand’s social media conversation has been split down the middle, with tweets teetering on both positive and negative. You have fans tweeting about a great win, and supporting their team, while on the opposite side you have tweets that accuse the Patriots of getting special treatment within the NFL or cheating. It is expected to have tweets from both end of the spectrum because in professional sports, you have rivalries and people who cheer for different teams.
In regards to the negative conversation surrounding the Patriots, there were two key findings within the conversation. The first was that all of the negative tweets about the Patriots actually tagged the Patriots Twitter handle it in the tweet. This is interesting because the Patriots account does not directly reply to fans, let alone people trash talking the team. The motive behind mentioning the Patriots Twitter handle may be to have their tweet have more tweet impressions. Another interesting finding from the negative tweets is that all of them related to the fact that the Patriots are “cheaters”. Some tweets directly called the Patriots cheaters like the tweet from the account @kobesity_ (Figure 1). While this tweet was a reply to a Patriots fan, the account not only mentioned the Patriots in the tweet but also morphed their name with the word cheat, giving a viewer of this tweet only one impression, that @kobesity_ thinks the Patriots are cheaters.
While the tweet in Figure 1 bluntly calls the Patriots cheaters without rhyme or reason, the tweets in Figure 2 and Figure 3 use what’s happening in other games in the NFL, and connect it back to the Patriots. In Figure 2, @aznz3r0, a Raven’s fan, tweet about an unfair call in his game, and then suggests that the Patriots would have gotten away with the roster move. These tweets can be used to start a negative conversation about the brand on Twitter, and often times get more interaction that tweets that have nothing to back their claim. This can be seen in Figure 3. This tweet is a conversation from one Miami Dolphin fan to another, discussing what they think Miami needs to do to win the upcoming game. Figure 4 is the final nail in the head to this conversation.
While there is plenty of negative conversations surrounding the brand, there is an equal amount of positive conversations. There is no distinct separation between what is discussed in the positive conversations. Positive tweets tended to use the hashtag #PatriotsNation, to interact only with fans. This can be seen Figure 4 and Figure 5. These positive tweets also add the Patriots Twitter handle, in what can be assumed as hoping to get noticed by the account or an official players account.
Another driving factor to the positive conversations is the fact that the Patriots are excellence at driving the positive conversations with contests. Over the course of three days on the @patriots stream, the Patriots had two different retweet contests, and two contests that link back to the website going on. Each retweet contest got over 2.5K retweets. Since the account does not directly interact with fans, this is a great way to show fans you appreciate the support.
The Patriots Instagram also is great at directing positive conversations. They often post “iconic” shots from the game, and fans will comment funny taglines/nicknames that they think best describe the player or what is going on in the photo. The conversation also goes in the general direction of “congratulations on wining the game” etc. It is comments like these that make the brand feel more like a family or team then something professional or unattainable. Finally many comments are just tagged user names, which is a way for fans to share photos with each other without having to steal the photo from the Instagram page.
The Patriots social media conversation is both positive and negative, as excepted from any NFL team, but one cannot deny their influence on these platforms.