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It has been a while since I dissected the content marketing efforts of a major brand, and what better subject for my first one of the year than the almighty NFL. 

The 32 NFL teams generated $11.09bn in revenue between them in 2014. The English Premier League, by comparison, turned over just £3.26bn in the same period. 

I thought it would be interesting to delve into the content marketing strategy of this enormous money-making machine to see how the channel supports its success.

The website

Homepage

The NFL website is a veritable ocean of content. And if you didn’t know what you were looking for you might well drown in it, too.

The homepage is laid out like a blog, with links to various articles under a number of different content categories: ‘Latest headlines’, ‘Analysis’, ‘Super Bowl’ and so on. 

NFL home page

There’s also plenty of interactive content.

In the screenshot below you can see two separate voting options, one for ‘Pepsi rookie of the year’ and another for ‘Which two teams will face each other in Super Bowl 50?’

nfl voting buttons on site

These voting boxes appear throughout the NFL homepage. 

Video/Photos

There’s video content, too, in the form of a little autoplay box in the top right that previews the ‘NFL Now Live’ section of the site.  

nfl video content on homepage

Clicking on the preview takes you through to that section, where there’s constant video coverage along with live text updates on the left hand side telling you what content is coming up next. 

nfl video on site

There is an enormous amount of video content throughout the NFL site.

I’ve opened up the menu below so you can see all the options.

nfl video on site

A lot of the video content is replays of important moments, while sections such as ‘Inside the NFL’ feature shows that have already run on NFL Network.

inside the nfl

There’s lots of image-based content on the site, too, with hundreds of photo galleries to browse through.

Blog

The blog content on the NFL site is split into football pundit Dave Dameshek’s blog and NFL Films, the latter of which is the company responsible for producing video content for NFL commercials, TV programs, feature films and documentaries. 

nfl films

Podcasts

Finally there’s a section for podcasts.

Again there are an incredible number of these, with something to cater for any NFL fan.

podcasts nfl website

Fantasy Football 

Fantasy football has achieved an almost cult-like following in the US, even spawning its own TV show

In content marketing terms, it is a phenomenal success. Creating a game that keeps millions of people engaged with your brand every day no matter what? Genius. 

nfl fantasy football

Not only that, but it has a huge impact on whether people engage with real sports. 

Studies have found that people are watching more football on TV since they started playing the fantasy version, 

YouTube

The NFL doesn’t allow you to embed videos from its YouTube channel, presumably because the clips are available on its site and it wants the ad revenue, so I won’t say too much under this section. 

Mostly it’s clips of game highlights, with a few interviews thrown in. 

There is some good use of humor in there too, though, like this clip of Nick Mangold photobombing Ryan Fitzpatrick.

‘Is this live?’ Fitzpatrick asks after jumping in the air and screaming. 

nfl on youtube  

Twitter

NFL’s Twitter feed contains a good mix of visual content. In most cases the tweets are a preview to a larger piece of content on the site, which they link back to.

The feed also contains some classic photo/quote combinations, which tend to be rife in sports and in this case seem to achieve plenty of engagement. 

There’s also a good amount of video content on the NFL’s Twitter feed, usually in the form of short clips from games. 

The NFL also makes good use of Twitter’s voting buttons, and they do seem to lend themselves well to football. As you can see, engagement is pretty high.

Instagram 

The NFL’s content team clearly understands how to market on Instagram.

Everything is visually attractive with only simple block text on some of the images.  

nfl instagram

You can see from the captions that the NFL posts live updates when something significant happens in a game. 

This is an effective way to take advantage of the fact that people tend to look at their phones while watching TV, so it’s an opportunity to achieve engagement with your brand across multiple devices. 

nfl instagram

There are also further examples of the image/quote combination the NFL uses on Twitter. 

nfl instagram

And of course there’s plenty of eye-catching video content, mostly in the form of short animations.

nfl instagram video 

nfl instagram video

Finally there is some great fan-focused content on there, which helps to build on the sense of community around the sport. 

nfl instagram

nfl instagram

Snapchat

Last year the NFL signed a deal with Snapchat that enables it to create official NFL ‘live stories’ on the social network during games. 

nfl on snapchat

NFL on snapchat

The move followed the two brands’ first partnership in April when they produced a live story from the NFL Draft in Chicago.

That story was viewed by almost 15m fans across the world. 

Vine

What the NFL does well on Vine is providing a kind of ‘behind the scenes’ feel to the clips, something which fans can’t necessarily get on any of its other social channels. 

 Clips are generally before or after games, and as always the beauty of Vine is in the graininess of the clips, which gives them an authentic feel as if you were actually there watching. 

Here’s a clip of Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers skipping majestically down a hallway. 

For more content marketing strategies… 

Jack Simpson

Published 20 January, 2016 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

252 more posts from this author

Comments (1)

Gus Murray

Gus Murray, CEO at Revolt

What happened to Facebook?

7 months ago

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