Brands have been developing strategies and focusing on digital and social media platforms for years now. While this attention isn’t new, it’s become clearer now that certain brands have employed more effective strategies towards monetization and multi-platform success than others.

We’ve seen brand after brand in limbo on social media – never establishing a voice or consistent approach to marketing their product or service. For far too long they have situated themselves as advertisers for content, and not creators of it.

There are opportunities for brands to create stories through these platforms that last longer than 60 seconds, or however long a user spends while thumbing through Instagram. The challenge is how can they position themselves to be their own media publisher, and control their own narrative through their own voice? In doing this, a brand can extend its reach across the typical realm that its product or service lives in, and can reach new consumers in a direct and cohesive way.

A great example of a brand using social directly to develop content is the NFL-owned Instagram account “The Checkdown”. For background, “The Checkdown” is a social media account aimed at creating personable and relatable content that further develops NFL players, storylines, and associated entities off the field. They have the voice and flexibility to tap into the cultural pulse in a nuanced manner which typically stoic NFL accounts avoid. This has led to high engagement rates and increased conversation around their work, and consequently, the NFL.

Below is an outline of one example where “The Checkdown” effectively created repeat engagement and conversation through content, which was a capitalization of the social calendar. For the NFL, there are cultural moments connected to the brand that happen year-round, and are waiting to be exploited in fun and exciting ways.

This specific cultural moment was the upcoming release of Madden 20. Deeper even, the release of Madden 20 Player Ratings. As so many have become aware of the ratings, and so many players consistently engaging with this aspect of the game, “The Checkdown” took the opportunity to create something memorable around the newly minted “99 Club”. A 99 rating is the highest rating a player can receive in the game. A great tip-of-the-cap recognizing their elite talent, if you will.

What did they do?

The Checkdown” partnered with a muralist to paint the silhouettes of each player onto a wall of a coffee shop located in Los Angeles. Immortalizing athletes through murals or statues is a time-honored tradition in sports.

How was it different?

The mural didn’t actually include the player’s image or likeness, it was only a silhouette of the player. Akin to unlocking characters in a video game. Rolling out the content post by post, revealing each player one day at a time, the NFL-led account created an appointment-viewing of sorts by engaging viewers to repeatedly visit the page in order to see who was in the “99 Club”.

What were the results?

In total, “The Checkdown” made 8 posts over a 5-day span. The account saw engagement grow from 25,000 likes on the original mural post, to over 60,000 likes on the mural with all 4 players visible. A 250% increase is a number any account would love to garner.

Five of the eight posts were directly focused on the athletes. The other three were special content which included partnering with Anthony Adams (a popular content creator/influencer and former NFL player), a time lapse, and post documenting a visit from Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner who was the second member revealed in the “99 Club”.

See for yourself:

This account has gone from aggregating NFL-related content to coordinating and creating their own media. They have grown to develop a weekly Twitter show, while continuing to roll out engaging content and creating their own content series with a specific voice.

Not every brand can, or wants to, do this. But, with the ability to drive conversation and remain “always on” in this media-crazed world, this kind of attention will continue to separate successful brands from the status-quo.