07 October 2011
We didn't start the fire. No we didn't light it. But we tried to fight it.
Do those phrases sound familiar? For any hard core music fan, they'd quickly recognize that the above lyrics were taken from Billy Joel's song "We Didn't Start the Fire". They'd also know that the mishmash of references in the song were targeted at the social chaos between 1949 through 1989. And while the entire body of lyrics might not seem applicable today, the above portion can easily relate to the NHL's views on social media over the years. Thankfully, as the seasons go by, more teams are open to play with the fire rather than trying to fight it. Since the 2008-2009 season, the NHL has tiptoed its way into the fire making sure not to suffer any long-term burns.
This year should bring a record number of social media events held by individual teams as well as league offices in New York. While some began their social media journey sharing images of felines with citrus helmets, there were others who wasted no time at all. To officially kick off the 2011-2012 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins held an inaugural social media happy hour event. It took place at TGI Friday's, which if you're familiar with Consol Energy Center, is actually in the side of the arena. Given that Ice the Office is located within the Pittsburgh market, I decided to attended to see what the team had in store for the fans.
The three hour affair was filled with a packed schedule that included text message prizes, Penguins trivia, drink specials, twitter stream monitors, and even a little bit of social awkwardness (what do you expect from generations who are glued to their touch screen phones?). Although the team was there to celebrate the 1,000,000 Facebook fans on the Penguins Fan page, only 30-40 people attended the event, along with the a good chunk of employees from the team. Each fan in attendance was able to go home with at least a t-shirt as the team's staff handed out t-shirts with the pens twitter handle printed across the chest.
As someone who has been to other social media events, this one was well thought out and nicely done. The mixture of technology, team trivia, and prizes helped smooth over any unfamiliarity Penguins fans had with each other. If the team decides to hold future social media events, I would imagine that they would experiment with the dates and schedules so that they can maximize their efforts. To watch a video from the event, catch it here. [Penguins]
It'll be interesting to see when and where these event types pop up. I gaurnentee that there are still a few teams out there who have no plans in creating such events but are monitoring the activity of their counterparts. The good thing is that the bar is set fairly low for the league. Any team who wishes to jump on the experimental band wagon can freely do so without the worry of embarassment. However, the more time passes, the more chances for a team to step up to the plate and establish a social media event standard. One would think that the eventual favorite to do that would be the Buffalo Sabres (*cough*-Terry Pegula-*cough*). If you have the chance to go to event like this in your own market, I would suggest going. As much as I'd like to hit most of them, I know that I won't be able visit the majority of them. Come to think of it, maybe I should try.
Who wants to play foursquare arena hopscotch with me?