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This is the final installment from Matt Rietz over at Viewfrommyseats.  Sorry this took so long but I was going through some job hunting issues and needed a break.  I hope you enjoy Matt’s take on Social Media and the NHL and you learned a lot about what the NHL is doing correctly.

People that are active in the online hockey community know where the most up-to-the-second information is available: Twitter. Big websites are dependent on their writers and the bloggers may hear about the information quickly—but it still takes time to put together even a 2 paragraph article. Even when it’s done, it’s not like everyone in the world will see it. But Twitter, that’s a different story. How long does it take for someone with a breaking story to knock out 140 characters? But that’s only the first part of the story…

The true power of Twitter is the speed at which information can spread from a single Tweet to across a community. If someone tweets that Jay Bouwmeester signed a contract with the Calgary Flames a day before free agency opens, they’re reaching all of their followers with the press of a button. But when I hear that news, I’ll be quick to re-tweet the information to all of my followers. Some of them, will in-turn share with all of their readers. When a story goes viral—THAT’S the power of Twitter.

From a news point of view, blogging and Twitter go hand and hand. But that’s only a single area that social media helps the NHL. Another area that is just as important is how Social Media can promote the sense of community between fans—whether the fans are in different cities, different states or even different countries. Bloggers and fans alike are increasingly using places like Facebook to strengthen friendships with people that they’ve interacted with in other venues. Maybe the met at a team function. Maybe they met at an NHL TweetUp. Whatever the case may be, Facebook and the like give them a place to keep in contact and share their ideas.

Specifically for hockey fans, it gives them a place to talk to other hockey fans about the sport they love. They can share articles they’ve read. They can share videos that they saw on YouTube (or NHL.com). They can vote on polls they saw on Twitter or even share Fan Pages to their favorite hockey blogs. Whatever the reason for communication, it provides a venue that hockey fans can interact with one another as much as they’d like. It’s like an electronic self-help group for puck crazed addicts (minus the 12 steps).

The NHL and individual teams have jumped head first into the New Media arena as well. During the playoffs, the Blackhawks and Penguins were serving up contests via Twitter for fans to win prizes—up to and including game tickets. Teams like the Los Angeles Kings will have contests on both Twitter and Facebook for their fans to win prizes as well. They’ve learned that they have a huge opportunity through the social media channels—they can either take advantage of the channels or watch another team do it for them.

Twitter and Facebook also serve as the newest way for bloggers to promote their articles. The high-end hockey blogs are rapidly becoming the backbone of hockey media for information for a huge percentage of the fan base. Unfortunately, bloggers often times can get lost in the huge sea of the World Wide Web. They need to get the word out—and they need to get the word out to the right people. Again: Enter Social Media.

Follow the right people on Twitter and you’ll have a never ending stream of quality information at your fingertips. Some might be from sources that have been around for decades, some might be up-and-comers that have always been good but have never had the chance. The genius of social media is that YOU get to decide who YOU want to give your attention to. If you find someone that you really enjoy, you can further engage the conversation on their blog or a Facebook page. It’s a two-way conversation—and it’s up to YOU how involved you want to be. You don’t have to, but at least now the choice is yours.

Geoff Livingston

Geoff Livingston

At the end of the day, I have to give a ton of credit to the NHL for being so accepting of the new media world. The old way of thinking was that online content was GIVING the product away for free. The NHL has realized that this isn’t giving hockey away for free—it’s PROMOTING it for free. The league could either acknowledge or shun it. They’ve acknowledged it and embraced it with open arms! They’ve certainly been through some rough times (and they’re still dealing with the hard times), but this is the way that they’ll save their league.

For the first time in a while, I can say this: The NHL is doing something right! Thank God, there’s hope for them yet.

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