Finishing up today, we’re looking at social media and events—one specific event in particular that I feel would help entrench the Beauts in the city of Buffalo.
In terms of social media, the Buffalo Beauts are doing well so far. With Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, as well as occasional footage on the NWHL Snapchat account (Beauts player Chelsea Laden actually took over the league snapchat account recently), the Beauts have all the major areas covered. However, as social media is becoming increasingly more vital as a way to connect with fans, I would recommend that when it becomes feasible, the team hire someone who can focus solely on social media and digital marketing. New ways to optimize social media usage to drive revenue are always being discovered, and having someone in a dedicated position to develop these strategies will increase fan engagement and thus increase attendance at games and merchandise sales.
In terms of specific social media campaign suggestions, the official NWHL social media has one that they call “Future Draft Pick Friday”, where they re-post submitted photos of youth and amateur women’s hockey players. The Beauts account should adopt that for local players in the Buffalo area, or players outside the area who are Beauts fans, in order to again establish that community connection.
While my recommended approach for community outreach and engagement was outlined in an earlier post, there is one more event idea that I want to suggest: a double-header scrimmage event with the Buffalo Sabres’ rookies. At this year’s Sabres development camp Blue and Gold Game, attendance was 17,115, due in no small part I’m sure to the recent drafting of Jack Eichel. However, even in 2014 attendance for the development camp scrimmage was 8,725.
An audience that size for a development camp inter-team scrimmage is nothing to sneeze at. A double-header event with an inter-squad Beauts game before an inter-squad game of the rookies Buffalo is sending to the rookie tournament in which they will participate prior to the 2015-2016 NHL season would get a large audience to First Niagara to see players like Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, and while that audience is there, expose them to the professional women’s team that will be playing in their city in the coming seasons. Admission, typically free of charge for Sabres development camp events, would be suggested in the form of donations to the NWHL Foundation as an effort to grow girls’ hockey in Buffalo. This event would not only work to establish that community connection, but would also promote visibility of the team prior to the beginning of their season.
It would also play a part in something else that I feel is essential to the Beauts’ success—building a successful relationship with the Sabres. I know that this seems counterproductive to establishing themselves as an independent team and league, but to me it seems necessary, at least in the beginning, to getting their foot in the door of the Buffalo hockey market.
With support from Gary Bettman himself, the groundwork for such a relationship has already been laid. In a statement read by Rylan at the NWHL launch event on April 13th of this year, Bettman said, “The National Hockey League supports the growth of women’s hockey at all levels. We wish the NWHL well as it presents the women’s game to a larger audience, provides outstanding female athletes an additional opportunity to compete at the professional level and inspires girls and women to strive for hockey excellence”. While support from the NHL is thus far in name only, the Beauts using that name to build a successful relationship with the Sabres—to give the appearance that the two teams are partners in driving the growth of hockey in Buffalo—would be invaluable to marketing this team in its inaugural season.
(Note: If anyone is interested in the sources I used for this project, hit me up on twitter and I’ll be happy to provide any that you’re interested in!)