Hamilton Tiger-Cats is the oldest professional sports team in north America.
The Hamilton Football Club was formed on November 3, 1869, and played their first game on December 18, 1869 against the 13th Battalion (now Royal Hamilton Light Infantry). Some of the early history of football in Canada and Hamilton is a bit vague, but by 1883, there are records of the Hamilton Tigers playing in the Ontario Rugby Football Union playoffs.
The decades and the game have changed but the Ticats commitment to community and fan engagement has not. Being active, accessible and current with their fans is critical on and of the field even during off-season times. In the ever changing landscape of professional sports and out-bound marketing, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have kept up with new technologies and successfully tackled challenges to reach their fan base.
WINNER OF THE 2015/2016 CFL ROUGE AWARD
2015 was a year of transformation across the Hamilton Tiger-Cats business to meet increased expectations and to deliver a ubiquitous fan experience. With a strong vision, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats successfully delivered a re-designed website, Ticats TV live streaming, mobile ticketing, in-seat ordering, in-stadium WiFi, and in-game contesting all driven through a brand new fan loyalty program, Ticats All Access. Based on several criteria (breadth, depth, timeline), the 2015 digital transformation was arguably one of the most ambitious digital projects embarked on by a Canadian sports organization.
On June 16th, 2016 the Hamilton Tiger-Cats broke ground by partnering with Stadium Digital to live-stream the first-ever major Canadian professional sporting event, to become the first professional football game in North America, that was streamed in it’s entirety using Facebook Live .
The Ticats have one of the most cultivated social media platforms in the CFL as evidenced by the following analytics generated since January 2016:
a) Twitter 11.97 Million Impressions charting them third in the CFL
b) Facebook 103,500 followers with a reach of 9,279,575
c) Instagram followers doubled to 27,000. Total Likes quadrupled to 182,190.
Presently, with the play-offs about to begin and more Facebook Live posts expected, Ticats Marketing & Social Media Coordinator Katrina Squazzin estimates that these numbers will climb further.
I asked Katrina “How did the Tiger-Cats achieve these numbers by using social media?” I was curious how social media could accurately capture and strengthen the basic core values of this deep-rooted franchise to a broad and well established fan base.
“We are very proud and committed as a sports team to be giving back to our community. Recently we hosted the 2nd annual Stair-to-care where fan teams lead by five players climbed the stairs in the Tim Horton Field for Ontario Lung Association. A few months ago 500 youth (many from the inner-city) participated in a free “Playaction Combine” Simoni Lawrence hosted this event with many other players the kids had a great time.”
Now what about the Ticats customers who are comprised of fans and ticket buyers?
Tweetdeck is the go-to social media platform during game time when a staff of 6 are actively posting and monitoring the Twitter feed. Followers using #Ticats at the game can see their tweets on the field screen during game breaks. #Ticats generates 250 to 400 tweets per games depending on the game progress and the opposing team. The Labour Day classic usually scores highest where it is not uncommon to have tweets arrive from fans worldwide.
Use of Twitter according to Katrina is of critical help to boost the promotion and sales of the team’s retail merchandise, ticket sale promotions as well as providing player and pregame updates. These posts have contributed to the fan experience and have increased revenue for the franchise.
“A multi-platform social media strategy and Tweetdeck has definitely been key to our success in our reach” says Katrina.
Looking towards next year? Katrina tells me they will be doing more Facebook Live activities towards player interviews and fan interactions. Oskee-wee-wee!
Lessons for Others
Customers want to feel like they are part of the action and tapped into the latest news on their favorite team or product. The modalities of the consumer are ever changing. Using a multi-platform and the newest social media formats are essential to retain and grow a fan or customer base. In the mean time, if your company is an iconic brand like the 148 year old Ticats, then some adherence with corporate core values is important too.
Industry: Professional Football
Name of Organization Contact: Katrina Squazzin - Coordinator, Marketing & Social Media
Authored by: Carina Fato
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
History of the Hamilton Tigercats – http://www.htcaa.ca/history-Ticats.asp
CFL Rouge Winner 2015/2016 – http://stadiumdigital.com/hamilton-tiger-cats-case-study/
Hamilton Tiger-Cats Social Media Analytics – provided by Katrina Squazzin – Coordinator, Marketing & Social Media