In an overcrowded, constantly changing media landscape, Snapchat is here to stay. Alright, I don’t really know that for sure. But my friends and I like Snapchat. So hopefully that counts for something.
If you don’t know about Snapchat, here are the basics: You can send pictures or short videos, and friends can see them on their phone for 10 seconds before they disappear forever. You can also enhance photos with captions and colorful doodles.
If I haven’t convinced you it’s more fun than texting, consult Buzzfeed’s 35 Most Powerful Snapchats of 2013 [and then rejoin us for the conclusion of this story].
The best thing about Snapchat is that you can use it for anything— like sending pictures of burritos to your cousin every time you’re at Chipotle (maybe), or taking video of yourself singing in the car (only at red lights, Nana), or drawing inappropriate body parts on the skeleton in the doctor’s waiting room (uhhh… I think that was somebody else).
And Snapchat is gaining traction. Did you know the Eagles have an official account? I was floored the first company I had heard of using a corporate Snapchat account happened to be the NFL team in my own backyard.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 24, 2013
I had to find out more, so I called up Linda Thomas, the Eagles’ digital and social media director.
It turns out the Eagles’ social media department was just like most offices, with coworkers using Snapchat for important matters like sending each other funny faces. Then somebody came up with the idea to add the app to the team’s portfolio of social media platforms.
“Our team thinks that social media is a great way to connect with our fans,” Thomas said. “People can connect with us and have a conversation with us.”
Sure, but people use Snapchat to take selfies in the club. Do fans enjoy getting snaps from the Eagles?
As a matter of fact, they do.
“We didn’t do a great big media blitz,” Thomas said of the Snapchat launch. They just posted about it on the team’s other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. The response was immediate.
About 1,000 fans signed up within five hours, and the number grew to 7,000 in the first week. Fortunately for the Eagles, signing up is easy. Just search “eagles” and add the team.
Thomas said the following obviously doesn’t compare to the team’s 2 million Facebook fans, but the numbers are still surging. And she said she’s been struck by the “intensity” of the fans who have added the Eagles on Snapchat. “What’s funny is when we’re not Snapchatting regularly, we hear about it. ‘Where are the Snapchats?’”
This shouldn’t be a surprise, Thomas is used to catering to Philly fans.
“We find with our Philadelphia Eagles fans, they are particularly passionate,” Thomas said. “When we’ve lost a game they’ll tell us what we did wrong. When we win, they’re very supportive. These are fans that don’t go away. Other markets— the fans— if you’re losing, they go away. Our fans stay with us.”
So Thomas’s department feels an obligation to experiment with whatever the hot new medium is. “We want to meet them where they are,” she said.
The Eagles Snapchat account is different from the ones you might have used to send me pictures of your dog wearing a Happy New Year party hat. It mostly utilizes the My Story function, which enables users to combine photos and videos for a longer message.
Another key difference is that Eagles have opted not to receive pictures from followers.
So if you’re lying in bed striking a sexy pose in your Eagles Santa hat, you’ll have to keep it to yourself or your significant other(s). Your picture won’t be opened by Swoop or DeSean Jackson or an intern in the communications department.
The Eagles are an early adopter when it comes to pro teams using Snapchat, but they are hardly alone in thinking about it. The New Orleans Saints, for one, started an account earlier in the season than the Eagles.
And teams in other leagues are intrigued by the possibility too.
My friend Whitney Holtzman is a social media producer for MLB.com, so she develops social media strategies for the league itself and all 30 teams.
She said she expects MLB teams to start using Snapchat within the next few months.
“You don’t want to get left behind,” Holtzman said. “With any emerging technology, you can’t bury your head in the sand. You have to embrace it.”
She said her coworkers saw some early Snapchats from the Saints and have already started thinking about ways MLB teams could use the app too.
Holtzman said one team in particular reached out to MLB about starting to use it, and that she expects Snapchat to be a topic of conversation at an upcoming meeting with representatives from every big league club.
The Eagles are now Snapchatting everything from a video of the players singing “What Does the Fox Say?” after practice, to photos of gear you can buy at the online store.
So get used to the newest toy at the Eagles’ social media team’s disposal. The photos may disappear faster than Chip Kelly calls in a play, but the use of Snapchat looks like it may last a while.
Mitch Goldich is a freelance sports writer originally from Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchgoldich, mostly for ramblings about Philadelphia sports.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 30, 2013