Millions of NFL fans likely are accustomed to using Twitter to express their opinions on anything going on in the NFL, whether it’s a major scandal, a highlight-reel play, or a star player’s off-the-field hobby. They might not be quite as used to expressing their opinions via direct message.
That’s the angle the NFL and Twitter are taking to increase fan engagement surrounding the Pro Bowl. The two companies on Tuesday announced the first-ever use of Twitter’s direct messaging function to vote players into the Pro Bowl.
“We always try to find new and unique ways for fans to vote for their favorite players in the Pro Bowl,” Kaycee Canlas, the NFL’s director of club business development, told SportTechie by phone. “So last year, millions of votes were cast during the voting period, and we wanted to explore other avenues to build upon that success, so we thought it was a no-brainer for us to partner with Twitter by creating a fun way for fans to vote on a social media channel that they’re already using to engage with the NFL and their favorite teams.”
“Throughout the Pro Bowl and really all of our events, we focus on reaching fans where it makes sense to reach them. Obviously there’s a lot of fans who use social media, a lot of our fans are on Twitter, and the Pro Bowl broadly is a really youth-focused event for us,” Matt Shapiro, the NFL’s director of event strategy, said by phone. “We’re trying to reach fans of all ages, but really a focus on our younger fans, and we know many of those fans are on Twitter, so for us, this partnership and this execution makes a lot of sense to keep driving fan engagement tied to the Pro Bowl.”
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Beginning today and extending through Dec. 14, fans will be able to send the NFL a direct message accessed through “entry cards” tweeted by all 32 franchises or through the NFL’s Twitter profile. Through the DM, fans can select players by position group, player name, or team name. Fans can vote for as many players as they would like.
During the final week of voting, fans can also tweet their vote using #ProBowlVote and including the first and last names — and Twitter handles — of every player they want to vote for.
“In partnership with the NFL, our objective is really simple: We want to bring the Pro Bowl to the fingertips of each fan who comes to Twitter to tweet about the Pro Bowl,” TJ Adeshola, Twitter’s head of U.S. league partnerships, told SportTechie. “This is the perfect way to go about doing that.”
The NFL will announce the Pro Bowl rosters in a special broadcast on Dec. 19.
“We’re stoked about it. We’ve never done it in the sports space, per se…,” Adeshola said. “This experience feels so inherent and so natural to sports that we couldn’t be more excited to test it on a platform like the Pro Bowl, so we’re pumped, the league is pumped.”
Orlando, FL – January 29, 2017 – Camping World Stadium: Alex Smith (11) competing in the 2016 NFL Pro Bowl
(Photo by Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)