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Detroit Sports on Social

As you may know, Detroit isn't currently well-known for its sports teams. The Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons and Lions have had ups and downs throughout the years, but currently they are all at a pretty even low point. None of them have had much success in the playoffs (if making it that far) in recent years. However, what they lack in performance, they often make up for digitally. Each team has different strategies they use to engage with their fans and supporters. Additionally, while it is currently affected due to COVID-19, a primary goal of social media is to bring in revenue through advertising ticket sales, sponsorships, merchandise, and more. The following is a breakdown of the social media used for each major Detroit sports team:


Last year, the Tigers ended their season with a record of 47-114 (.292). While this year it will have improved to 23-34 (.404), it's not too much to be proud of. I know from firsthand experience that the Tigers put a lot of effort into their social media to make light of these more depressing situations -- they take lemons and make lemonade. They have the best marketing tactics, when looking at all Detroit sports teams as their strategy for implementing product and promotion is very engaging. This can clearly be seen on their Twitter. Last summer I worked as a photographer for the team and while most of the games I photographed weren't victorious, the photos were still used in a positive engaging way. Here are a few examples of my photos being used on social media:

When looking at the Tigers trying to sell a product, whether that be season tickets or merchandise, they utilize their social environment. According to Barry Babin, social environment are elements that specifically deal with the way other people influence consumer decision making and value (Babin, 2018). This is often done with the style of posts utilizing group influence. Sometimes this includes photos from a VIP event, photos of Tigers fans in merchandise, or testimonials from season ticket holders. Even though it is virtual, it can still qualify as group influence.


The Detroit Red Wings have the best use of visuals when comparing the four teams. Their graphics are engaging, eye-popping, and are aesthetically pleasing. This plays

a huge role for increasing the brand's experimental value. According to economist Sunil Gupta, experimental value is defined as "intangible psychological and emotional value that can be derived from brands or great service" (Gupta, 2014). when the experimental value increases, so does the customer value.

When your competitors are all using the same platform, it becomes difficult to stand out. Sometimes the differentiation becomes very subtle, but still results in an affects the internal influences of the viewer/potential customer -- specifically the cognition.

A key difference between the Tigers and the Red Wings is the Red Wings lack of making light of their losses. The Tigers typically have humorous captions associated with their final scores. Sometimes the Red Wings don't post a graphic with their final score (per example below), which may be a factor in the reason that they place third for lowest number of followers of the four Detroit sports teams.


When comparing the Detroit Pistons to the Tigers and Red Wings, there is not much that stands out for Detroit’s basketball team in terms of the style of posts. One could say they seem to be a combination of the other two accounts — a solid middle ground.

Although, there is one notable aspect that stands out from the business perspective. The Detroit Pistons include sponsorship logos on almost every post. This employs an involuntary attention from the viewer to be aware of those outside business logos. Babin defines involuntary attention as “attention that is autonomic, meaning beyond the conscious control of a consumer” (2018). And this involuntary attention can lead into the mere association effect as viewers might start to associate the Detroit Pistons with companies such as Flagstar Bank or Rocket Fiber, but not purposefully. The mere association effect can be seen as a reason for companies to want to have a sponsorship opportunity with the Pistons. With having over four million followers between their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the Pistons social media content is reaching a lot of eyes.


Out of all four Detroit sports teams, the Lions are the only team to have never won a championship before. And in the past four years, the Lions record is 18-29-1 (.383). However, the lack of victories does not stop the Lions from having a major presence on social media and still maintaining a large returning customer (fan) base.

The Lions absolutely use a marketing mix on their social media platforms. Marketing mix refers to using a combination of product, pricing, promotion, and distribution strategies used to implement a marketing strategy (2018). The Lions create a lot of contests for fans to interact with. Additionally, the Lions have themed campaigns during the season, as well as the off-season (such as their Mask Cam campaign).

While they have a combination of these types of posts, along with normal game and player updates, there are posts to engage potential season ticket customers.

The strategy the Lions use to bring in these buyers is through exposure. They have posts showing the great experience that season ticket holders have. Once viewers are exposed to the exciting opportunities season ticket holders get to have, they'll want to partake in that themselves and purchase season tickets. There are not many call-to-action posts that are shared throughout the off-season since there are more posts of the direct season ticket holder experience. This will hopefully lead fans into purchasing season tickets when they see a post with a direct call-to-action.

Something interesting to note is that of the four sports teams, the Lions have the most active fan base. For not having ever won a championship game, and be historically known for being a bad team, it's surprising that their follower numbers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are very comparable to the other three teams.

Overall, there is a lot of connection as well as difference between the social media accounts of Detroit's professional sports teams. They all are creative with their posts and are able to make light of tougher situations. And there is much potential for these accounts to grow as the team performance improves. Going forward, I am very excited for my next blog post, which will examine various University of Michigan sports teams social media accounts.


Word Count: 1099

Value-Added Content: Photos and Videos from Tigers, Lions, Pistons, and Red Wings social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter).

Babin, B. J., & Harris, E. G. (2018). CB: Consumer Behavior: 8th Edition. Book. Cengage Learning.

Gupta, Sanil (2014). Creating Customer Value. Journal. Harvard Business Publishing.

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2 comentários

Katherine Galzerano
Katherine Galzerano
02 de out. de 2020

Hey Alec! I love your blog idea. It was super interesting to learn about the different marketing tactics of the four Detroit teams and their social medias. I loved how the Detroit Tigers focused on their atmosphere and created clever captions for posts even when they lost. I also liked the fact that the Detroit Lions are super interactive with their fans. Something that would be interesting to note on would be the benefits of the interactive marketing for the Detroit lions and the fans satisfaction with it. Since they have the biggest following base it would be interesting to look into it, especially pre COVID times vs. now.


Sarah Berry
Sarah Berry
29 de set. de 2020

Hey Alec! I love seeing all of your amazing photography on social media, so I wanted to check out your blog! I enjoyed your take on the different marketing tactics and mixes inside the sports industries. The comparison between the four teams was really interesting to read about. As a devout Tigers fan myself, I loved that you touched upon the uplifting and energetic content the Tigers release, even after upsetting losses. Something that could be interesting to note is the social value consumers get from sharing posts from their favorite teams. Does sharing a post about a game to a network of sports fans help strengthen your own ties to that network? I think it most definitely does. In…

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