How the New Jersey Devils help players build brands and engage fans


The New Jersey Devils had a big 2017-18 season. The team blew out preseason expectations and earned a playoff berth with a win in the final home game of the regular season. The Devils made moves off the ice, too, becoming the first NHL team to fully embrace athlete-driven content on social.

Led by Digital Marketing Manager Tina Jain, the team built a strategy around providing players with easy access to share quality content to their personal social channels.

“During the 2017 offseason, the New Jersey Devils identified a need for Devils players to feel comfortable using social media, not only to reach out to fans and support the team, but to promote their own personalities,” said Jain.

“It’s common knowledge that NHL athletes are more likely to stay out of the personal and social limelight, especially when talking about their incredible accomplishments, on and off the ice. We wanted to not only encourage them to share on their personal platforms, but to be a resource and advocate in doing so.

“First, we worked with our Hockey Operations personnel to ensure this was a path they were comfortable with us leading, which they were. Second, we went through a process of vetting third-party platforms that served this type of purpose. Eventually, we went with opendorse because of the ease of platform, both from a brand and athlete’s point of view, their customer service and fandom, and because it was the most cost-effective tool for us.”



The results speak to the remarkable work done by Jain and the Devils digital team, as well as buy-in from the players. On Twitter, the Devils led all NHL teams in total player engagements and engagement rate. The team also claimed the second-highest mark for player growth, adding more than 130 thousand followers throughout the 2017-18 season and 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“Together with opendorse, we celebrated the fact that Devils players led all NHL teams in total Twitter engagements for the regular season AND regular season + 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs!” said Jain.


Player engagements by team *Twitter data from Oct. 4, 2017 – April 8, 2018

New Jersey Devils — 562K Engagements
Nashville Predators — 429K Engagements
Anaheim Ducks — 424.5K Engagements
Ottawa Senators — 337K Engagements
Toronto Maple Leafs — 316K Engagements

Player engagement rate by team

New Jersey Devils — 7.9%
Tampa Bay Lightning — 7.7%
Vegas Golden Knights — 7%
Washington Capitals — 5.6%
Boston Bruins — 5%

Player growth by team

Toronto Maple Leafs — 156.8K Followers
New Jersey Devils — 130.7K Followers
Nashville Predators — 123K Followers
Montreal Canadiens — 91.5K Followers
Philadelphia Flyers — 88K Followers

Athlete-Driven Strategy

“The initial thought process in using opendorse was to set attainable goals each year (season).

“Year One was about adoptability and building a use case of best practices and trial and error to see what worked, what didn’t. During Year One, we got 19 players and team personnel members on-boarded and using the platform to distribute content out on personal social networks.

“Ranging from theme night ticketing campaigns, to community and fan events, to even celebrating clinching a berth in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, using opendorse to help our players share content was a priority for distribution strategy.”

Playoffs, baby

Were goin to the dance! Stanley cup playoff bound! #NowWeRise ?

A post shared by Blake Coleman (@bcoles25) on

Theme nights & ticketing campaigns

Community & fan events


What's next?

“Going into Year Two, we are able to use examples from last season to show off as best-in-class use cases to those not on the platform and have an opportunity to be smarter about timing of on-boarding.

“We’re planning on using our team’s 2018-19 Media Day for this purpose and will create a social media room for players to really show off their personality, opt-in to opendorse, and more.”

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