The NHL lockout at the beginning of the current season caused small hockey madness in more than one European country. The most watched figure in the Czech Republic was definitely Jaromír Jágr, who also brought the excitement to Facebook. He casually began to communicate with his fans on his official Page and it was incredibly easy for him to attract their attention.
Jágr’s official Facebook Page has existed for a long time. Previously, however, it was managed by an administrator, and as such, it didn’t catch more attention than similar profiles of other athletes. The turning point came in November, when Jágr began to communicate himself. The media, surprised by his open posts, helped him a lot.
“I’m very flattered by the attention: people seem to like talking about hockey, but not only about it. I hope every Page fan will find an opinion or comment that could help them in their life situation,” said Jaromír Jágr about his activity in an interview for the biggest Czech tabloid Blesk.
The first great media coverage was about “the vote of the people”. Jágr, being the owner of the Kladno hockey club, let the fans decide if the former Kladno charge Michal Frolík could play for the rival team of Chomutov. When he granted the wish of the fans, it raised a big wave of interest both on Facebook and in traditional media. “It was a whim: I wanted to ask people what they thought. I was surprised how they got involved, and especially how they were united. About 99% wanted Frolík to play for Chomutov. It’s obvious that people want the results to be decided on the ice,” said Jágr about his first action on Facebook.
Two days after this decision, another significant event happened – Jágr broke up with his girlfriend Inna. Such a story is a great fodder for tabloids, but before Jágr’s name appeared on tabloid front pages, he wrote about it on Facebook. Moreover, he asked for advice – yes, the famous Jágr, loved by the entire nation, needed an advice and asked his fans for help on a social network. “Any situation, especially a negative one, forces you to contemplate and think more about certain things. People posted really a lot of thought-provoking ideas in the discussions and I thanked them for their advice and experiences.” The large number of positive comments supported Jágr and a day after he announced the breakup, he came up with the idea to call the fans his “hockey family”.
The most successful Jágr’s post was published on 9 November. Apparently it wasn’t planned either, it was just a momentary idea: “I’m going to work out. And I got an idea. I’ll record some exercises and practices that help me to keep in shape on my iPad. It might help someone – I won’t take my secret to the grave, you know,” he wrote the previous evening. And he did what he promised. The nearly twenty-minute-long video shows in detail his individual workout. Even people who had never used skates, let alone played hockey, were amazed at his attitude and determination. Nearly 25,000 likes and 10,000 shares made this video the most successful post in the history of Czech Facebook.
When he was in the Czech Republic due to the NHL lockout, Jágr communicated with his fans several times a week, managed to shoot two more training videos and to make fun of a big betting office. In early January, when the lockout ended and Jágr moved back to America, he promised to post regularly about what was happening in the team, but the regularity of his posts began to slow down. In February he added 5 more posts; one post in March and then a long break – till 25th May. Now he’s back – we will see for how long.
Jágr’s attempt to be active on Facebook, however, showed several interesting things worth noting. In particular, a completely different perspective on social networks: “Facebook has an incredible power. People of different professions, from different regions, have a chance to meet in one place and chat. Otherwise it wouldn’t be possible: everyone has their worries, everyone has to work, earn money, and take care of children. There is no time to travel to see other people and discuss their problems. I thought they could meet on my Page. Although everyone has a different job, we’re dealing with similar problems. At work, at breakup or when we raise our children,” explained Jágr his “concept” of Facebook Page management. Jágr’s agony column, Jágr’s message. Most Facebook users, let alone social marketers, had never thought of harnessing the power of Facebook in such a way before.
Later, speculations about the size of Jágr’s Page PR team emerged, of course, but Jágr eliminated them one by one. “It’s purely his personal activity; the club hasn’t participated in it at all. He has no PR team. And that’s the main reason of such a success,” says Vít Heral, the spokesman of Kladenští rytíři (Kladno Knights hockey club). Another interesting thing is how Jágr used the social networks: while on Facebook he writes only in Czech, his Twitter account is only in English. One could also argue if all the posts or this opening video were Jágr’s idea.
Jágr’s success embodies a number of known mottoes on “how to be successful on Facebook”:
“Be authentic, unofficial” – Jágr has been authentic for all his life. It is not about the pretence of a large corporation which is great and cool and on Facebook, but when you want something from its employee at the counter, their enthusiasm quickly passes. If the anecdotal tone is the language of your company, social networks are a paradise for you. If not and you will just pretend, people will become aware of that.
“Build useful and interesting content” – Jágr’s training video is the epitome of this proposition. Although it’s twenty minutes long, people love it. Though Jágr shows skills that most users will never use, their most common comment is “WOW!”
“Be exclusive” – To let the fans make an important decision? To show them they are important? To tell them about your breakup before you inform traditional media? WOW! This is exactly what you need to do to be loved by social networks. If a car factory lets the fans decide the name of a new model, I bet it will be more popular than after hours of commercial spots on TV.
“Be popular” – Of course, to win a reputation is much easier for Jaromír Jágr than for your new e-shop, since Jágr’s popularity was a great prerequisite for his success on social networks. Traditional media that wrote about his activity helped him, too. Yet we can find a lot of famous athletes with the same potential who certainly don’t shine on Facebook.
“Don’t give up” – Despite all the likes and the great success achieved by Jágr, his Page is a prime example of the importance of periodicity. As soon as you stop caring about Facebook, the numbers start falling (even if you’re not interested in any numbers like Jágr).
Jágr vs. Tennis
It’s not easy to find another world hockey player who manages his Facebook profile like Jágr (or who manages it at all). Therefore, we tried to find the sport stars who meet perfection.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic – all these tennis hotshots are very active on Facebook. Their posts aren’t as personal as Jágr’s (but that would actually be surprising), but their profiles are full of pictures and videos looking behind the scenes.
On the other hand, tennis players can work well with their sponsors and naturally include them in their communications. Such a mention on a personal Page can be simply great for any brand.