How should the Red Wings use social media to strengthen relationships with fans?



Businesses across all sectors of industry are working to integrate social media into their current outreach strategies. Why should sports be any different?

More than 54 percent of senior-level sports executives see social networks like Facebook as an opportunity to build stronger connections with existing fans, according to an October survey conducted by Turnkey Sports that was featured in today’s issue of Sports Business Journal.

Since my role with the Detroit Red Wings is to help integrate social media into everything we do to reach fans, I thought that the NHL’s All Star Game ballot would be a great opportunity to reach out and ask for help from fans everywhere.


While the team has had a presence on social networks like Facebook and MySpace for some time now, we’re beginning to rethink how we can use those networks to help fans stay connected to the team and the sport. We’ve even started engaging with fans on Twitter, too!

One thing we’re close to unveiling is a new Facebook application that lets Red Wings fans keep tabs on how many votes their favorite players have toward securing a position on the 2009 All Star Game starting lineup. We’ll be sure to announce it here when it’s ready.

We will also be announcing a contest to design an “I Voted” Red Wings-themed badge for blogs and other web pages for fans to proudly display their love for the Red Wings players while reminding their friends to vote. For the first time ever the NHL is displaying the voting results in real-time and allowing fans to vote up to 1,000 times per day! In the meantime, please feel free to visit to vote for your favorite Red Wings players.

While it’s still early in the game, we’re also working plans to relaunch our online social network with plenty of new features that includes a lot of live streaming interviews with players where fans will have the chance to ask all the questions.

While we believe we have a great start with lots of exciting plans in the works, we would like to hear from you. Please tell us how you would like to see the Red Wings use the Internet to help fans stay connected to their favorite team? We’re listening.

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About hockeytownusa

I am the Creative Content Coordinator for the Detroit Red Wings and editor of the Official Hockeytown Blog for the Detroit Red Wings.
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17 Responses to How should the Red Wings use social media to strengthen relationships with fans?

  1. Lisa McGrath says:

    The Caps and Ted Leonsis have done a great job … all the bloggers get full press cred with Caps, Texting in verizon is utilized hheavily and the team and owner are all present on Twitter & FB. Fans submit YouTube vbideos & Twitpics & FB pics. It’s a great community!

  2. Mike Pilarz says:

    Sounds like a lot of great stuff is in the pipeline!

    What about a blog by one of the players? Adam Burish of the Blackhawks has a blog called “Dropping the Gloves” and it’s FASCINATING (see his series of posts on “Why We Fight”):

    What makes this blog work is that it feels candid and genuine, not ghostwritten by someone else. Would love to see what goes on behind the scenes through the eyes of a player or even a fan-favorite character like Al Sobotka or Mo Cheese.

  3. I guess I was ahead of my time, but I did research with hockey fans about this 8 years ago (for one of those dot-com busts). One of our findings was connection with the PLAYERS (vs. “The Red Wings”). The example above, Burish’s blog, is one way to do it. We all know the players are very busy, but they are the leading “face” of the club. So small things that you can do to make it feel like the fans are interacting with the players, the stronger your relationship. Related, even making the “staff” more available would be good. Tweets from Bud Lynch in the press box during a game – now that would be priceless! Blogs from the people who run open the penalty box doors. And so on.

  4. cheapsuits says:

    how can you bring in existing communities like ? Forums, although web1.0 are still a great source of community engagement especially amongst sports fans. I am a strong believer in a rich social media ‘press’ area on the main website. Also, I think it’s great when you can endear the blogger community (Wing bloggers in this instance) by turning them into one global community by a badge that they can put on their blog identifying as part of the blog network for example. Don’t overlook the power of a site like Youtube and Flickr for fan engagement on a variety of levels.

  5. If you had a tech-savvy player, seeing what THEY twittered could be awesome, especially on road trips.

    You might also be able to tap into the different aspects of social media creativity- have fans pitch ads/in game video media via YouTube and then let them have input on a professionally done version of it, or have fans design graphics to be used in/on/around the team sites… desktop wallpapers, icons for stuff, etc.

    I find myself watching player stats update during games on my little mobile internet device… my guilty pleasure right now is watching Bears rookie Oskar Osala steam up the player rankings chart right now, so some sort of mobile-friendly player stat tracking application could be a hook, at least for sickos like me 🙂 That might take finding a hardcore programmer to accomplish, however.

    Also, as an AHL blogger, I’m sort of the redheaded stepchild to the big famous Caps blogs like OFB, Japer’s Rink and Off Wing Opinion…. I don’t mind it, because once in a while I can ride their coattails into greatness, but a little recognition that someone’s been talking up the good players BEFORE they make the big team would go a long way sometimes…. perhaps let an AHL blogger have the spotlight somewhere occasionally in the case of a big callup or an awesome week down on the farm.

    Similarly, highlighting an excellent fan photo somewhere online (facebook?) once a week or so could go a long way towards getting fans engaged in showing up and taking pictures.

    Just my $2 (because it became a little longer than $0.02)

  6. Brian says:


    I think you are heading in the right direction. The tweet about riding int he car with a couple players was great. That took advantage of an opportunity that you had and allowed us to connect with the players. Little unexpected things like that are great. Even if players don’t have time to run their own blog, a guest appearance would be a nice add. A guest post every one in a while, or even scheduled weekly guest blog posts by players would be a start. If they do, just make sure that they also have the time to read and answer comments / questions. If they don’t do that it is still one way communications and won’t have the same connection.

  7. DaveMurr says:

    I agree with @Brian – opportunities that allow us fans to connect with the players is big.

    The bloggers of a website I consult on, kwork behind a “curtain”. Just recently a few of them were exposed and now their fans can’t get enough of them.

    They have been posting videos of “behind the scenes” that have been getting a huge response.

    So to answer your question: If I were you I would get a camera and capture some behind the scenes action – interviews, practices, life on the road, a day in the life of a redwings goalie, spoof commercials, contests, etc.

    Maybe a video of the history of the Octopus OR ways to prepare Octopus 🙂

    Anything that can get a Red Wing fan closer to their team. I think fans would eat this up – I know, as a fan, I would!

  8. Lauren says:

    You have a very dedicated, internet-savvy, and growing fan base on the official forums. Using those forums to promote anything else you implement (I LOVE the blog idea, by the way) would be a great way to reach your target audience.

    Speaking of the boards, having an active admin would be nice… we only have one person with moderator authority and he still can’t do the major stuff. The only admin is “” and he/she NEVER checks on the boards. Those of us that hang out there love the boards, but people are getting frustrated that there’s no real leader, and not having anyone with administrative power could turn into a huge PR mess if some trolling gets out of hand.

    I’m also a “fan” of the Red Wings on Facebook, and the only time I ever get updates there is when you’re trying to sell me tickets… throw me a bone every once in a while, huh? =]

  9. Jill says:

    It’s great to see you asking fans for their input. As a long time Wings fan currently posted overseas, it’s difficult & frustrating to get access to info on the team.

    A team that does things well via social networking is the Canucks. Since I’ve been posted here, I’ve started following them because they make it easy to do so.

    1. Podcasts: Staying in touch with the Canucks is as easy as opening iTunes.
    o podcast the Canucks games so I can listen to them when I get home, I don’t live in a time zone which allows me to listen live
    o Pre & Post game video interviews podcast straight to iTunes
    o Funny video interviews with the players podcast straight to iTunes
    o “Media Pass” podcast gives insightful behind the scenes information Currently assistant coach Rick Bowness is talking game preparation
    o Check out for the Canucks Podcasting range

    2. Fan involvement via forums, blogs, tribute art work, videos etc
    o pick a few of the best examples of the fan’s tribute art work/videos from the forum on a weekly/monthly basis & highlight them:
    o Fans are actively involved with the social networks via podcasts & blogs. To be “official” they need to ensure a certain standard of behaviour/code of conduct (but social networking can backfire if you want to control exactly what is said, ask The Oilers) Also check out some of the Sabres fans blogs for ideas of a very active community but not linked to the team page. Start here & navigate:
    o Fan competitions: The Ultimate Canuck Search where artwork, tribute videos are played on the jumbotron. Interestingly, the standard of the fans work has really forced the official website art, wallpapers & videos to improve (cough cough)
    o Forums: Use the forum at the website to really promote the above. People would love to find a place to go for lots of information, pictures & chatter. It needs to be interactive and having someone from the DRW starting conversations there, linking interviews etc there regularly, or highlighting intelligent fan opinions or good art work from the forum on the main site will attract more people
    o At the game, via social networking: letting fans choose playlists for specific nights/games. also lets a particular player choose music on a particular night so fans feel like they know the player better (love our iMixes btw but can we have some other players as well?).
    o Let the social networking groups get involved in helping local charities for the Red Wings too. We may not be able to get to shelters, food drives, etc but we can contribute as well & feel like we are part of the community – maybe highlight these efforts at games or on the website

    3. Up to Date Information. Sorry but the Wings are terrible at this & fans feel short changed. Examples:
    o The website… we are six weeks into the season & the depth chart still shows Hasek & Drake on it, & no sign of Conklin or Hossa. The players wallpapers are still from last year too.
    o I’ve got the toolbar on firefox, but I took it off as it drove me crazy wanting to re-download every time I opened firefox. I can get the same information via google alerts email (or even a regular email
    o Speaking of email, emails pre & post game reports every game, major announcements (i.e. Nonis getting fired, signings) etc so fans are kept update & know to jump on line to interact & learn more
    o Detroit Red Wings Hockey podcast & Wings Cast – when was the last time they were updated? See coments on Canucks podcasts.
    o Ditto facebook & myspace
    o Hockeytown magazine online – love it! But can we please have better quality pictures? THN costs me about the same & has great quality pictures & looks professional (don’t get me started on the photoshop efforts on the main website)

    Hope these ideas are helpful.

  10. Ryan says:

    I have to second (or third) the idea of taking advantage of all of the outstanding Wings bloggers and/or networks out there. Every day I go to 3 or 4 great Wings blogs… I never go to the Wings’ website. If there was a way to centralize all of these folks, having your one site have portal windows to all the various Wings Bloggers. You also could then have portal windows to all of the Wings columnists too. I think that having a central page of info would be a great start in terms of simply attracting a mass of people.

    Beyond that, as a Wings fan living in Chicago, I can only say that finding a way to take advantage of the fact that the Wings have more fans nationwide than any other team is another huge step. There could even be subsections on this centralized site where wings fans/bloggers, etc. can report or network from all different parts of the country.

  11. Pingback: Team Blog Reboot at On the Wings

  12. Greg says:

    Ha, until the Wings organ-i-zation realizes they need to open up to bloggers, things will remain the same.

    It looks like you are on a hunt for information Shannon and I applaud you, but when you toss these ideas by the decision makers, forget it , it costs money and it ends there.

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  14. ari says:

    Great read, especially the comments, lots of stuff I can agree with there. I also like what I see in the responses from Shannon. I just had a few quick ideas I wanted to add.

    -I’ve never seen a hockey practice. Lifelong fan, but never played or been to a game, let alone a practice. Maybe show some snippets of footage every week. You could even expand it to a bi-weekly training session with the red wings, where a few players actually go over a subject, or coach shows us what he writes on that little board during a timeout, how a play is charted, things of that nature.

    -Light locker room conversations. I’m not talking about after-game interviews, but some shorts of regular talk. Just the guys being the guys.

    -Expanding upon the idea of mobile apps: itunes podcasts, google start page widget, yahoo widget, audiocasts, the list goes on forever.. There’s tons of opportunities out there, not just limited to mobile; review them and see which are workable.

    -Simple games can go a long way to bringing people back on a daily basis. Maybe pick next game’s three stars and be entered into a drawing of all correct guesses. Winner of that drawing, gets entered in a drawing for tickets to a playoff game. Or a simple redwings trivia flash app, poll questions, etc. etc. Figure out what works and pump it full of content.

    Well, wasn’t quite as quick as I intended, but I like what’s going on, and look forward to seeing the evolution of the brand.

  15. hagen390 says:

    I have been reaching out to players and have yet to hear a single word from one of them. I am not sure if the front office intercepts the mail, the players just don’t have time or are not willing. It has been very discouraging over the past several years and to tell you the truth I have stopped writing them. I have received letters and email from John Hahn and been told that he would not forward questions to a Red Wings player regarding a email interview.

    If this is a place to start a dialog with the players and get some sort of conversation going then I will surely be here. I think for the years and dollars I have spent and many others that the players would be excited to interact.

    I guess it could be bad luck, bad timing or just plain mail tag or the letters are lost in the mail, whatever the case, I have a fair amount of questions and I sure would like a player to take the time to give their 2 cents.

    I hope this is the beginning, I also hope this is the place and time the Red Wings allow the fans to get closer to the players and coaches. Lets Go Red Wings…

  16. Terri R. says:

    As an ex-blogger, dealing with John Hahn was one of the most unpleasant experiences I have ever had.

    First, he refused to return my phone calls, when I came to visit him, he refused to even see me. I was told he doesn’t have time for bloggers.

    No wonder you folks are way behind most teams in the NHL when it comes to this topic.

    It will never change until Hahn changes, and that is next to impossible.

    Mark my words, nothing will change unless Hahn retires or is fired.

  17. Loy74 says:

    The ambiguity arises because Obama urges blacks not to attribute their condition to the obstacles they face. ,

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