We had the chance to talk to the head of social media for the Red Wings, Jake Duhaime, about what the team is doing with social media this offseason and in the future. Here is the Q&A. Our questions are in bold. His answers are in italics.
Do the players actually follow Twitter or have any experience with social media?
Cory Emmerton (@CEmmer48), Gustav Nyquist (@GNyquist) and Brendan Smith (@BSSmith7) lead the charge for us on the players side. I think, as an organization, we are at a point where just about everyone knows it exists, but the decision to join is up to the player himself.
For instance, I wasn't surprised to see Mike Modano as active as he has become on various forms of social media. Last season, the two of us were chatting about iPhone Apps and he mentioned how much he enjoyed playing 'Words With Friends.' It was only a matter of time before he'd jump on Twitter and start sharing his thoughts.
Are the players are aware of the blogs and their presence, and do they care?
I don't know much about our players and their browsing interest, but I know there are a number of NHL players who read Barstool Sports on a regular basis. The site was actually created by a University of Michigan graduate and serves as a unique mix of content, mixed with sponsorship and attitude, which serves as a model (in some capacity) to what we do on DRW Social.
From what I have heard, the site receives some 60 million page views per month, but what may be more impressive is to see players like Ryan Whitney, James van Riemsdyk and Logan Couture chirping with the site's staff via Twitter on a regular basis. You also see the importance of getting merchandise in the hands of the right people, as evidenced by Brad 'Nose Faced Killah' Marchand wearing one of their tees during an NBC interview with Pierre McGuire during last year's Stanley Cup Final.
Do you have any plans for social media contests over the course of the offseason?
We have a few things in the works. I have started to run Twitter-based promotions every Friday with an autographed item up for grabs. Unfortunately, our off-season is a little longer than anticipated, but we'll continue to take care of our fans by providing unique opportunities all summer long via social networking platforms.
Will there be more meetups like you had in Chicago and Boston this year? Any chance for an out-of-town fan to experience behind-the-scenes stuff when on the road?
During the 2011-12 season, we hosted meet-ups in Chicago, New York, Minnesota, Toronto and a pair of events in Southern California. I'd love to see more during the 2012-13 season, as I enjoy working with the various Winged Wheel themed venues and meet fans face-to-face in a casual situation. We know that people may move elsewhere, but they will take the Wings, Tigers, Lions, Pistons, UMichigan and Michigan State with them forever.
Any tips/tricks we can share that can help people who want to be the social media fan of the day?
The best advice is to be creative and think outside the box. Anyone can take a picture of themselves in a jersey, but we've seen our Fans of the Day come from all 50 states and more than 20 different countries. These individuals have jumped out of planes, taken on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, asked others to prom, even worked on the space shuttle. Anything that is unique and different truly stands out.
As far as technical specifications go, it is easier to deal with photos sent as attachments and between 500K and 5MB.
What are the official hashtags fans should be searching and sharing to stay connected to the Wings?
We've utilized #DRWChat in-game as a way for fans to keep in touch with other fans as things happen. We've also been lucky to see our friends at FOX Sports Detroit utilize the hashtag to promote what might be going on during the pre and postgame shows.
Any great stuff we can look forward to on Facebook?
We recently introduced our Bud Light Fan Cave promotion, which allows fans to show off their Winged Wheel themed rooms for all to see. We'll also be conducting a social media survey in the near future where you, the best fans in hockey, can tell us what we're doing right and where we need to improve. I have three posters signed by Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg, Jimmy Howard and Pavel Datsyuk to give away to three random individuals who take the survey.
How many people are going to say that you should be more like the Kings Twitter account?
There are people in our own office who give me grief about it. The beauty of Twitter is that every team can have a different approach and be successful with it. Can I use this space to openly court Kate Upton to do some work for DRW Social? Maybe assist with our Winter Classic efforts at the University of Michigan?
Will you be doing anything special on Twitter and/or Facebook for the draft and free agency on July 1? What's are the possibilities of being able to ask the Wings draft picks questions on Twitter and having them answer on video and posting it or something like that?
We're planning extensive social media coverage of the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh this June. It will be interesting to see what we'll do, seeing that we currently don't have a first round selection. That being said, like the All-Star Game, it is very cool to showcase a major league event behind-the-scenes. You don't have many occasions where all of the decision makers in our sport are in the same venue at the same time.
Don't forget you can follow the Red Wings on Twitter (@DetroitRedWings) for all updates on promotions and contest this offseason.
Let's Go Red Wings.