They say opposites attract, and nowhere is that better illustrated than the oddball relationship between the National Hockey League (NHL) and Pinterest. The two seem to have little in common: One is known for its aggressive, fast-paced, stereotypically “manly-man” sport; the other is a female-dominated social media site commonly used for sharing images of crafts, food, and other items not generally associated with a slap shots, power plays and penalties for high sticking.
Yet the NHL is able to leverage Pinterest for advantage better than any other sports organization. The league boasts almost 1.2 million followers on Pinterest — roughly 50 times the total followers of the NFL, MLB, and NBA combined. With that kind of success, it is clear that the NHL has figured out how to leverage the fast-growing social media site to their advantage.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman recognizes the importance of social media for the NHL. He recently told USA Today Sports, “Historically, we were a league that was under-served by traditional media. So the ability to use digital platforms and connect with our fans more than ever before … has been vitally important to us.”1
So what makes the NHL so great at Pinterest?
First, they understand their audience and the medium. While this recommendation is often used as a trite and generic social media marketing advice, the NHL takes it to the next level when it comes to Pinterest.
Women make up 73% of Pinterest users, a fact that the NHL understands and caters to by creating boards in the most popular categories on Pinterest. There is a “Hockey Treats” board for hockey-inspired food in the Food & Drink category. The “Future NHLers” board features young children sporting their favorite team’s apparel. Additionally, “Fanicures and Hockey Style” lets fans show off manicures featuring the colors of their favorite teams; “The Ultimate Hockey Home(s)” showcases home décor ideas; and “Player Fashion: Off-the-Ice” likely needs no explanation — or if it does, just call it the “eye candy” category.
And of, course, no Pinterest presence is likely complete without an entry in the perennially popular “Wedding” section.