They rarely meet in the regular season, but the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys are clearly among the rarefied air of NFL brand dominance. Their success on the field is only mirrored by the passion that both fan bases have for their teams, and the high profile that their ownership groups possess. Now in addition chalk up a little social media innovation for the two clubs.
The digital teams of both teams have combined forces to float a trial balloon for fan engagement when the franchises, both 7-6 on the season, meet in Dallas this weekend. They have created what is believed to be the first ever “Social Media Showdown” for two professional teams, let along two iconic franchises. The Cowboys and Steelers have started a wide ranging outreach to see which team can garner the most new followers to their social sites in the week leading up to the game. Both have implored and engaged their already large audiences (each team has a social media footprint of over 5 million) to help recruit new followers as a sign of support for this week’s matchup. The team that brings in the most can claim some bragging rights in the social space and get some additional buzz for the brand.
This first trial for the Social Showdown does not have any frills, but it has lots of potential. It is not sponsored but it could be, there are no prize incentives but there could be, and while there is one central gathering for posts (#socialshowdown) there are no massive message boards to really capture data or allow a large scale interaction between fans. What the effort shows is a great willingness by two mega-franchises to try something different to engage and grow. It costs little to do and has tremendous revenue and promotional possibilities. While it is true that other rivals have gone to the social space to engage fans during big rivalry weeks, those efforts are usually exclusive of the competitor. Working together gives this effort an extra push, some extra potential and the ability to see on both sides what works and what doesn’t.
There is really little downside to this test between the Steelers and the Cowboys. It is made even more special by the fact that the two legendary franchises rarely meet during the regular season, although the traditional rivals can also grab hold of the idea just as quickly.
It is probably something that should and will be expanded and replicated by college, high school and pro teams very quickly, with the only limit being the cooperation and foresight of those involved. How about taking the idea to Notre Dame and Alabama.
Regardless of the outcome, the Steelers-Cowboys Social Showdown is a great first by two mega-brands that may bot to be as progressive as other franchises, but are smart enough to see a unique opportunity and seize the chance to not just engage with their existing fans, but to grab others who may be casual and less engaged and pull them into a rivalry. Smart and savvy, and definitely worth a look for what’s next.