CFL turns to Twitter to reach Grey Cup super fans

The partnership, officially established in 2013, is focused on extending the Grey Cup party to the online space and rewarding fans for their loyalty.
twitter mirror

While most people would celebrate a Grey Cup party with a tailgate, some chicken wings and drinks with friends, the CFL is also encouraging fans to also use Twitter as a sort of party destination during the game, as well as the lead-up to Grey Cup Sunday.

“Social media is just that, it’s social, and Twitter itself is one that can bring people together across shared interests,” said Christina Litz, CFL SVP of marketing and content. “It’s very much a natural extension of the brand.”

The CFL and Twitter have been official partners for the Grey Cup since Twitter opened its Canadian outpost in 2013.

The partnership has mostly centered around the CFL’s annual tweet-up, a tradition established in 2009 for CFL fans to meet people they may have interacted with in the online space, with new initiatives such as the branded Twitter Mirror being introduced over the years.

Litz said these initiatives are less about attracting a new generation of fans and more about celebrating with current super-fans.

“While we absolutely look at trying to extend reach among new fans with these new initiatives, there’s something to be said about consciously rewarding the most loyal fans, which is what we do through the CFL Twitter partnership,” she said. “It helps make them feel more like we’re part of the action and it’s very community-based.”

This year, Twitter has crafted a custom emoji depicting the Grey Cup trophy that generates when users use the #GreyCup and #CoupeGrey hashtags. Encouraging Tweets from football fans to the winners of both the Eastern and Western Division finals will be displayed along the player tunnels leading from the locker room to the field during Grey Cup week, up to Grey Cup Sunday on Nov. 28. Tweets will also stream in real-time on panels and monitors throughout BMO Field in Toronto during Sunday’s game.

But Litz said the main event remains the tweet-up, which predates the opening of Twitter Canada. The social networking company stepped in as an official sponsor of the annual event (along with Shaw Media) in 2013.  The event will continue this year in Toronto on Nov. 26.

The rest of the initiatives on the platform, she said, are merely supporting the community feel, and a way of “extending the party” to the online space.

“Essentially every year the partnership gets deeper and deeper,” said Litz.

Another ongoing tradition Twitter introduced in 2014 is the Twitter Mirror (pictured), giving both teams custom branded Twitter and Grey Cup mirrors to deliver selfies to fans.

She credits initiatives like the Twitter Mirror and the tweet-ups to helping spike the CFL’s Twitter engagement during Grey Cup season.

Last year, she said, Tweets surrounding the Grey Cup trended in the number-one spot during both the East and West Division finals and Grey Cup Sunday, with more than 102,000 mentions of #GreyCup on the day of the game.

According to a rep for Twitter, during the quarter finals, mentions of both @CFL and #CFL had 30% more Twitter traffic than during regular season games, and during the 2016 conference finals, mentions of the two tags had 80% more Twitter traffic than during the regular season.

Overall, during the week of Nov. 32 to 29 in 2015, the CFL saw a reach of more than 25 million people across all social media and more than 265,000 total points of engagement across social (mentions, favourites and Retweets). Litz added that the Twitter activity was gained without the use of Twitter’s Amplify program.