We are into week one of the NFL season now, and thought it would be a good time to look at the social engagement of some of the most featured faces in and around the league; not the players or even the owners, the coaches. The amount of time they are seen and talked about during a game is probably more than any player outside of a quarterback, yet for the most part their engagement with the fans, because of their volatile position and their workload demand, is not that high. Sponsorships are also usually left to the offseason or the post career, yet coaches remain the most visible and consistent face on any team depth chart.
So we took a look, with the work of Tanner Simkins and the COMPLETE SET Agency, at the social footprint of NFL Coaches. Here is what we found.
There are currently only seven NFL head coaches engaged in social, and of the eight, only three, Pete Carroll of the Seahawks, Ron Rivera of the Panthers and Bruce Arians of the Cardinals also have active Instagram accounts.
Of the seven, which also include Sean Payton of the Saints, Jack del Rio of the Raiders, and Dan Quinn of the Falcons, the most engaged and most authentic appears to be (no surprise), Seahawks coach Carroll who not only pushes team messages and community events, but generates his own thought filled content as well. While all universally make their interaction positive, and do a good amount of retweeting of colleagues, they do avoid controversy, player decisions and much that is not pre-determined.
Of the seven, the numbers probably are dictated by the amount of activity, with Carroll, over 2.1 million twitter followers, more than the other seven COMBINED. Second is Mike Tomlin of the Steelers at 298,000.
On Instagram, Carroll’s 378,000 also dominate, which shows the amount of time, interest and effort the Seahawks mentor puts into the value of social in tech-savvy Seattle.
It is also interesting to note that most of the coaches who are engaged have gone through the interaction with the live unscripted shows like Hard Knocks and the recent effort by Amazon, although the Rams change in coaches moved Jeff Fisher out of the live social area for coaches.
On the list are there some glaring misses from engaged coaches? Given the amount of effort Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh puts into social as a tool for engagement, it’s surprising not to see the Ravens John Harbaugh, himself a thoughtful and disruptive leader, with a presence. Jay Gruden, another leader with a brother in the coaching limelight, would be another one to hear from.
Still this is the NFL, and social access is carefully monitored and controlled, although we are seeing more from players in season (and even on air, where NBC is now listing players social handles) it would be great to get see additional insights from the top. It is not easy, and time is limited, but getting engagement from those calling the signals away from the field would probably be beneficial, interesting and insightful as fans, brands and interested parties look to learn more about the biggest weekly spectacle in pro sports today.
Coaches, it’s your call.