Super Bowl LVIII: San Francisco 49ers Integrate Savvy Digital Strategy, Flavor of Local Fanbase Into Championship Content

Serialized content, targeting younger audiences has proven successful

While the world wishes it wasn’t a repeat of 2020, the San Francisco 49ers are working towards a better outcome against a similar foe — the Kansas City Chiefs — that they faced in Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, 2020. On the digital and social media front, the ones developing content for the Faithful in the Bay are bringing a slice of home with them to the championship game four years later. Armed with a vision that leans on connection to their fanbase, creative storytelling, and a clear purpose on what they’re distributing to the masses, the club is reflecting on a remarkable regular season and what’s to come this weekend in Las Vegas.

“We really try to diversify the type of content that we make,” says David Eisenberg, VP, content, digital & social marketing, San Francisco 49ers. “We also try to be intentional with how we’re communicating and the channels through which we’re communicating.”

Rich Photos, Dynamic Video: Staff Cultivates a Balanced Approach for Social

Every organization strives to strike a unique mixture of static imagery and various forms of video, but the 49ers have struck gold in their digital and social approach. Leveraging input from the entire team and the talented creatives on their crew, the club has refined their strategy to create material for their long-time supporters as well as grab the attention of younger fans that are just getting into the sport of professional football. Their plan of attack has also generated increased engagement on particular platforms that younger demographics flock to, including TikTok and Instagram.

“First and foremost, it’s about matching our content with the actual channel [that we’re creating it for],” says Eisenberg. “Video is driving a great deal of our growth, but we’ve done a lot of work with graphic design because we know that our static content performs really well.”

Outside of their objectives on the creative side, the marketing department has used their digital outlets as a way to raise awareness about other important projects. For instance, the club introduced reach out via text messaging to increase the fan experience at Levi’s Stadium, give fans chances to win exclusive prizes, and more. First introduced for their Week 5 matchup vs. the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 8, this new wrinkle to the 2023 regular season came from fan feedback.

“We heard from our fans that text messaging is where they wanted to receive more communication and they wanted more information about how to best experience gameday at Levi’s Stadium,” adds Eisenberg. “Along with emails and push notifications on our app, [communication with fans] has become an important component of how our channels are growing. Whether they’re physically at the stadium or consuming through our digital platforms, our focus is on our fanbase and what they want and need.”

A Season’s Worth of Stories: Inside the Team’s 2023 Regular Season Portfolio

Leading up to the biggest game of the year in Sin City, the 49ers did an unbelievable job on documenting their path to the title in 2023 through serialized and short-form content. In the long-form territory of video, three series come to mind: 49 Hours presented by NRG, Brick by Brick presented by SAP, and Mic’d Up powered by Cisco. 49 Hours, which 49ers Studios — the team’s in-house production group that was created in 2013 by current Kansas City Chiefs’ VP, Content and Production, Rob Alberino — won the 2023 Northern California Area Emmy for Sports Program-Live/Post-Produced, gives fans an exclusive and cinematic look at poignant moments of the season. The most recent episode details how the team were victorious over the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship.

Prior to the start of the season, Brick by Brick was an appetizer to the 2023 campaign. Taking viewers through the start and end of training camp, through preseason, and establishing the club’s aspirations for lifting the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in three decades, the series set the table for a year filled with engaging stories. On the other hand, Mic’d Up features traditional live and in-game audio from certain players. Compiled into one cohesive video, fans can see the chosen player’s reactions and emotions during the course of the matchup. One of the more charismatic players on the roster, tight end George Kittle, was wearing a microphone during the team’s historic 17-point comeback in the NFC Championship.

When fans think of long-form content, most people think of video, but in the Bay, the franchise is churning out long-form audio as well. Four marquee podcasts — three in English (You’ve Got Mail with reporter Lindsey Pallares, Inside the Oval with Digital Managing Editor Haley Jones and Social Media Manager Patty Quan, and 1st & 10 with Digital Media Coordinator Briana McDonald and Pallares) and one in Spanish (El Podcast de Los Fieles with journalist Miguel Pasquel y 49ers Insider Jesús Zárate) — gives fans the most up-to-date information about the team. For the younger, TikTok-centric audience that Eisenberg and company are trying to cater to, 1st & 10 dives into the most pressing topics in 10-minute-long episodes.

On the short-form side of video, the regular season saw multiple instances of creative brilliance. For example, when the calendar flipped to Latino Heritage Month, Emmy Award-winning Senior Producer Sarina Soriano and her “Latinos Unidos” piece took over the social media space. This project, along with initiatives during other months of the year including Black History Month, is influencing their timing and cadence of certain content throughout the year.

“The Latino Heritage Month video was an absolutely epic piece,” continues Eisenberg. “We’re starting to set a bit of a playbook for other heritage months and other really important moments on the calendar.”

Tapping Into the Legacy: Franchise Recruits Celebrity Talent, Iconic Brand for Postseason Push

With the formula for success being used throughout the length of the postseason, it’s only right for it to continue for Super Bowl LVIII. Some content is more lighthearted and fun, including conversational and interview-style content that showcase their players’ personalities on TikTok:

@49ers 🎤 #49ers #NFL #SBLVIII ♬ original sound – San Francisco 49ers

Others bring passion and energy, including the hype videos that they’ve created during their march to Las Vegas. The most recent featured three-time Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young:

At the NFL ranks, even throughout all professional sports, the San Francisco 49ers stand out as a legacy brand. Whether it’s winning four titles in the 1980s; having Hall of Famers on both sides of the ball like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, and Charles Haley; executing some of the most electric plays in football history; or winning the second most Super Bowls in NFL history, the franchise is a prominent one. This well-known brand has helped them integrate celebrities into their content, including a custom song and music video by Saweetie — who’s the granddaughter of Super Bowl XVI champion and 49ers’ linebacker Willie Harper — and P-Lo:

“One of the big things that we’ve leaned into over the last couple of years is influencer marketing,” continues Eisenberg. “We’re able to do that because of the strong foundation and content strategy that we’ve built.”

With an immense draw to be associated with the logo or tie their likeness with the club, grabbing big names for content is an advantage. Now with so many eyeballs on their digital channels ahead of Sunday, Eisenberg sees this time as a chance to shine and highlight his crew’s skills.

“It’s more of an honor than added pressure,” he says. “We feel very prepared to have an opportunity to be at the Super Bowl.”

Bringing the Bay to Vegas: Owner Jed York Brings Entire Organization to Allegiant Stadium

Everyone associated with the San Francisco 49ers does tremendous work, and to show his appreciate, owner Jed York chartered flights for all employees to Las Vegas to witness the game in person. Because of this decision, all social media, digital, and marketing staffers will be onsite at Allegiant Stadium and will make this weekend’s operational workflow a lot more seamless.

“The York family is incredibly generous for having us here and be a part of this unique experience,” says Eisenberg. “It speaks volumes to the culture that we have here.”

Despite being the one leading the marketing department from the front, Eisenberg praises the work and dedication of his colleagues for bringing their content to the upper echelon of the National Football League.

“Not only am I extremely proud of the digital, social, and content team, but the partnership that we have with every aspect of marketing, including game presentation, communications, and stadium operations,” he says. “A ton of the credit goes to the incredible work that they do.”

For more digital content from the San Francisco 49ers, check them out on X, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and their team website.

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