As a neophyte professional league, the NWSL needs to get itself in front of potential fans at every opportunity. Even blessed with the presence of some of the most popular female athletes in the country, promotion doesn’t happen in a vacuum. While the league itself has yet to establish its presence with much more than a Twitter account, the eight member teams – with the assistance of a dedicated and quickly developed network of fans and league-related news sites – have hit the ground running.
Each team’s website is current and contains news, photos and information on opportunities to join the teams as paid employees or interns and – in the case of SkyBlue, Boston and Chicago– opportunities to try out for the team on the field.
Embracing social media, the teams also have Facebook and Twitter accounts to keep followers updated and aware. The impact of their aggressiveness was apparent during the recent NWSL college draft. The constant updates from the teams on their selections using the hashtag #nwsldraft included the Twitter accounts for each draft pick where available, immediately linking those freshly drafted players with their new fan base. The news was passed on as university sports programs, alumni and other follows picked up the hashtag and re-tweeted to their followers, further spreading the draft news far beyond theIndianapolisballroom where it was held. People who may have had only passing knowledge of the NWSL were introduced to it through the excitement of others, and every re-tweet was an opportunity to bring more prospective followers into the fold.
The creation of NWSL-themed websites – some providing new content, while others served as an aggregate source of coverage form other sources – has also served to keep people informed. Coverage in the mainstream media of women’s soccer has traditionally been limited to Olympic and World Cup competition. The internet, however, has a plethora of sites available for the latest news, opinions and information on the league. Many sites have already posted exclusive interviews with players and league personnel (as this column hopes to do in the near future), giving exposure to the personalities that will make up the maiden season of the league.
As discussed in an earlier column, what has proven to be one of the most popular (and interactive) social media events have been the near-weekly Twitter chats hosted by players Yael Averbusch and Ella Masar. There have been numerous conversations and Q/A sessions among the host of present and past women’s league staffers, players, and fans. The dialogue has regularly trended in the top 10 on Twitter using hashtag #wsoccerchat, and for those unable to join in live there are recaps available for catching up on what might have been missed. The next scheduled chat is this Saturday, January 26 at 11:00 AM Eastern time. In my opinion, individual teams should look to host their own chat sessions with fans, perhaps having a rotating selection of players joining in to communicate and build relationships with their respective audience.
At this point, the NWSL is fortunate to have team officials and fans who are working hard to get the league noticed to as wide a populace as they can. The introduction of new, virtually unknown players through social media and fan-driven websites helps to make a new brand more familiar to those who will be the ones to support it financially once the first ball is kicked in April.
Now, if the league itself can catch up to what its teams are doing…..
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