Miami Dolphins fans have always found ways to chatter about their favorite NFL team. The NFL is just helping to make it even easier for them to find each other with the draft starting Thursday night.
Visit the Dolphins warm room on NFL.com and you’ll find plenty of fans debating Earl Thomas at No. 12? Sergio Kindle? Starting Pat White? You’ll also find out Dolphins fans are in a “hopeful” mood and have been the most active posters among all 32 teams. As I write this, the Dolphins page has logged more than 37,200 comments. The next closest? The Detroit Lions with more than 28,600. The least active? Fans of the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills with fewer than 3,300 each. More than 329,000 comments total have been posted so far.
An interactive map shows you each NFL market identified by its logo along with a color to show its draft mood and live comments as they pop up across the country.
NFL.com launched the war rooms in a more limited fashion last year and received more comments than the league had expected, NFL.com General Manager Laura Goldberg said.
“We decided this year to make them a little deeper, if you will, in terms of features and functionality,” Goldberg said. “We really want to cover the draft in a way that is highly interactive with our fans.”
As for why Dolphins fans are ruling the comment “airwaves,” Goldberg speculates that’s because the team’s fans are well organized and excited about the off season moves the team has made (Brandon Marshall, Karlos Dansby). (Note: I spoke to Goldberg before Jason Taylor officially signed with the rival New York Jets, but Dolphins fans were the second happiest when I spoke with her and now are ranked fifth happiest).
“I think the last year … new ownership, the celebrity coming to the team, I think there’s a lot of excitement around the Dolphins,” Goldberg said.
Meanwhile, at nfl.com/nfldraft, NFL.com is aggregating Twitter messages tagged with the hashtag #nfldraft. You can scan across pages of tweets to gauge how people are commenting on the draft, expressing their enthusiasm and concerns. Tweets by NFL officials, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, are among the messages. Goldberg describes the page as being “like a cool scrapbook. Maybe you find someone you want to follow.”
The key to the NFL’s online social media draft strategy was recognizing that “conversations are happening in a lot of different places,” Goldberg said. “We want to make sure we’re aggregating comments no matter where they are.”
They endgame, of course, is to build more loyal fans. “The more we engage fans, the longer they spend on our site, the more pages they look at, the more videos they look at,” Goldberg said. “It’s also great for our advertisers. The more someone is engaged, they’re much more likely to look at an ad, to notice an ad.”
Goldberg would love it if fans watching the draft on television are also checking nfl.com to get updates, to comment and converse with other fans, and to watch video of the draftees. Oh, they could also be checking the real-time draft tracker and live video feeds on NFL Mobile on their Verizon Wireless phones.