Thunderstruck: How the Tampa Bay Lightning are Becoming the Future of Hockey

Don’t look now, but the hottest thing in Florida isn’t the sun, it’s the Tampa Bay Lightning. Located in an untraditional hockey market, many would suggest that a city with a tropical climate would struggle to support a hockey team. However, according to the chart below, you can see that the team is having no trouble at all drawing in fans.

In fact, the team has been able to draw in more fans than teams in “traditional” hockey markets such as Vancouver and New York. So how has a hockey team been able to find so much success while being located at the beach? Team success has been a huge catalyst in the team’s success, but what makes the Lightning unique is the team’s social media presence. The combination of these two factors has not only made the Lightning wildly successful today, it has also made the future look extremely bright.

Screenshot 2015-11-26 07.49.37

#BeTheThunder

When attempting to market a product to a certain area, it is important for one to understand the demographics of the area which you are marketing to, and the Tampa Bay Lightning have done an excellent job with that. The Lightning recognize that it is primarily dealing with millenials who are constantly on social media and because of this, social media has become the team’s greatest tool for growing its fan base. Unlike many team’s social media accounts, the Lightning are constantly engaging their fans and attempting to create a family like environment.

Former social media director Caity Kauffman stated in an interview that, “When you work for a team, it’s a community thing and you’re not just going into work” (Kauffman).

Screenshot 2015-11-26 07.49.48

One of the ways in which the Lightning demonstrate the aspects of a community is through the team sponsored hashtag, “#BeTheThunder”. This hashtag shows up all over Amalie Arena and the Lightning’s social media accounts and the fans have responded extremely well to this community. By using this hashtag, the team hopes for its fans to do exactly that, be the thunder to Tampa’s Lightning. Not only are fans at the game “being the thunder” but also fans at home using the hashtag on social media are constantly engaging with other fans in support of their beloved Lightning. Creating a sense of community through social media has been a huge success for the Lightning and it is setting a precedent for all other NHL teams to follow.

Other Social Media Uses

The Lightning want to create a sense of community over social media, but that doesn’t mean that the team can’t have fun with it. Tampa Bay is known for constantly replying to any questions fans may tweet them, but they are also notorious for attempting to create controversy through social media.

Last year during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs the team used the hashtag “#BishPlease” (in reference to goaltender Ben Bishop) to troll their opponent at the time, the Montreal Canadiens. This hashtag, along with the hashtag “#StammerTime” (in reference to center Steven Stamkos) have become wildly popular on the team’s social media accounts, and have even become slogans for new t-shirt designs. The team not only likes to stir things up with opposing teams, the Lightning also never hesitate to stir things up with the fans, as seen below.

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Team Success and the Future

Marketing a product effectively is a very important tool but if the product does not deliver, you as a marketer will suffer. In this case, the product being marketed is absolutely delivering to its fans. The 2015 season for the Tampa Bay Lightning was one that featured franchise records in wins (50) and points (108) on the way to the team’s second Stanley Cup Final appearance.

Although the team ultimately fell short of winning the Stanley Cup, the future for the Tampa Bay Lightning could not be any brighter. The team features seven young stars: Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, Jonathon Drouin, Alex Killorn, Ryan Callahan, and Ondrej Palat all under the age of 25. In addition, the team also boasts the seventh best prospect pool according to Hockeysfuture.com (Hockey’s Future).

 

 

This blog post was written by Samford University student Alex Mimnaugh. You can learn more about Alex at: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/alex-mimnaugh/a9/8b/92a

 

References

Griffin, Justine. “How Social Media Helped the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Marketing Success.” Tampa Bay Times. N.p., 28 May 2015. Web. 01 Nov. 2015. <http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/how-social-media-helped-the-tampa-bay-lightnings-marketing-success/2231412&gt;.

Kritzel, Ashley. “Tampa Bay Lightning Social Media Manager Caity Kauffman Moves on.” Tampa Bay Business Journal. N.p., 26 June 2015. Web. 01 Nov. 2015. <http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/blog/morning-edition/2015/06/exit-interview-tampa-bay-lightning-social-media.html&gt;.

Muir, Allan. “Sizing up the Lightning’s Future after Their Cup Final Loss.” SI.com. Sports Illustrated, 16 June 2015. Web. 01 Nov. 2015. <http://www.si.com/nhl/2015/06/16/tampa-bay-lightning-future-outlook-bright-after-stanley-cup-final-loss&gt;.

“NHL Attendance Report 2014-2015.” ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2015. <http://espn.go.com/nhl/attendance/_/year/2015&gt;.

“NHL Team Rankings – Hockey’s Future.” NHL Team Rankings- Hockey’s Future. N.p., 2015. Web. 01 Nov. 2015. <http://www.hockeysfuture.com/team-rankings/&gt;.

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