6 Tips From the San Francisco 49ers’ Winning Social Media Playbook


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Scott Kegley

Some sports franchises are winners, and some, well, let's just say they try hard but are under a perpetual black cloud. The San Francisco 49ers fall into the former category, with six Super Bowl appearances and five wins. This winning track record extends to its social media engagement efforts: the Niners are currently in fourth place among the 32 NFL teams on Track Social's NFL Engagement Leaderboard. On Instagram alone, the Niners have more than 581,000 followers.

In the wake of the Niners' recent playoff victory over the Green Bay Packers on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, we asked Scott Kegley, senior manager of digital & social media for the San Francisco 49ers and a speaker at PR News' Feb. 5 Digital PR Summit at the Westin San Francisco, to crack open his team's social media playbook for his fellow communicators. He provides six tips here. (Let's hope the ghost of Bill Walsh is not paying attention.)

  1. Over-prepare for your daily social media engagement: Don't be upset if great ideas never see the light of day.
  2. Understand your audience: What works in one marketplace may not work in another.
  3. Represent Your Brand: The values of your organization should be represented in all of your social media engagement.
  4. It's All Content: Social media is content, just like anything else you produce in the digital realm. Be a part of organizational meetings, understand what's newsworthy & capitalize on opportunities.
  5. Don't Miss It: Truly unique opportunities for engagement on social are few and far between. When you've got something to offer that's relevant and you also have something compelling to say, jump on it.
  6. Be Topical: Ask yourself what else can your brand comment on, and inject yourself into other conversations. But don't go overboard—be judicial about the existing conversations you join.

Hear more about the San Francisco 49ers' social media strategy at PR News' Digital PR Summit on Feb. 5 at the Westin San Francisco.

Follow Scott Kegley: @Scott Kegley

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI




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About Steve Goldstein

Steve Goldstein is editorial director of events for Access Intelligence’s PR News brand, which encompasses premium, how-to content, data and competitive intelligence for public relations professionals; PR News Online; PR News conferences, webinars and awards programs; and PR News guidebooks. Previously at AI Steve was editorial director of min, min ’s b2b and minonline as well as managing editor of CableFAX: The Magazine and CableWorld. Before joining Access Intelligence, he was executive editor of World Screen News, and editor of Film/Tape World, which covered film, television and commercial production in the San Francisco Bay Area.



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  • Brian Bennett

    Steve: This is solid social marketing advice. But if you want to truly understand the gold standard of brand development, take a hard look at the Green Bay Packers. I defy you to find any brand – sports or otherwise that has engendered more loyalty. Recently, when they needed to raise $55 million to add to Lambeau Feild they sold “stock” (paper with a logo on it). Waiting list for season tickets is about 60 years… San Fran has a great organization – they’ve won a few battles. But the Pack is the goliath.

    • SFMH57

      I think The Packers are a fundamentally different organization, corporation, sports team and do engender loyalty that’s not seen anywhere else in the sports sector in large part because the team *is owned by its fans.* This changes virtually EVERYTHING. The consumer base is supercharged and aware and ready to soak up everything PR and marketing can put out there because they literally own a piece of the action. And regarding social media, most of us would love to have the same social media “problems” – what to post?? – of any sports team (large or small, fan-owned or not, success or a failure) or any news outlet, which every day is simply overflowing with news from the outside and the inside, new ideas, issues and “people stories.”