(Photo courtesy of @thehockeyguys_/Twitter)
As social media is rapidly evolving, sports teams and content creators are finding new and exciting ways to engage with fans. Recently, several hockey teams and creators have used the power of TikTok to connect with a broader audience and share their passion for the sport worldwide. Notably, the Chicago Blackhawks, Kelowna Rockets, University of Southern California men’s club ice hockey team, and The Hockey Guys have emerged as frontrunners, showcasing their creativity and gaining significant traction on the popular social media platform.
Established as one of the NHL's oldest and most iconic teams, the Chicago Blackhawks boast a large and passionate fan base that spans the globe. Beyond their accomplishments on the ice, the team has also seamlessly transitioned to the digital realm of TikTok, where they have gained 562.7 thousand followers and over 14 million likes.
The Blackhawks produce a wide variety of content on their TikTok account, including behind-the-scenes glimpses, "mic'd up" videos that offer fans an on-ice perspective, and lighthearted challenges that showcase the athletes' personalities.
Of special note is the Blackhawks' strategic emphasis on this year's NHL Draft, particularly spotlighting the first overall draft pick, Connor Bedard. The franchise's TikTok has successfully leveraged this excitement, garnering substantial engagement from fans who anticipate a turnaround in the Blackhawks' franchise through the promising young talents.
Meanwhile, in the Western Hockey League (WHL), the Kelowna Rockets have used TikTok to elevate their team's presence and visibility on social media. The Rockets have accumulated almost 55 thousand followers and 3.1 million likes on TikTok.
The team's TikTok and other social media platforms are run by the Rockets' social media manager, Paige Bednorz, who began creating TikToks for the team during COVID. Bednorz creates content based off of popular trends and even helps the players execute video ideas of their own. Ultimately, these videos not only help highlight upcoming games or promotional events but also players' individual personalities.
"I get a lot of feedback from people in the community, who say, 'Oh, it's so cool to see their personalities come up!' You know, they're just so passionate about it," said Bednorz.
Bednorz hopes to continue creating content for the Rockets that showcases players and the side of hockey that fans do not always get to see.
(Photo courtesy of Steve Dunsmoor)
Outside of professional hockey, college teams like the University of Southern California (USC) men's club ice hockey team have also found success on TikTok. With a following of 12.8 thousand and 730 thousand likes, USC's TikTok presence has helped expand the team's reach.
Among one of their most popular TikToks is a video showcasing players pretending to read Elle Kennedy's hockey romance novels, which has garnered over three million views. This approach to content creation not only reflects the camaraderie among the team but also taps into pop culture, resonating with a broad audience beyond hockey fans.
The team has two TikTok managers who are female USC students that volunteer their time to film, edit, and post videos of the team. As women, the TikTok managers use their different viewpoints for marketing not only to men and hockey fans but also to a female audience.
"Women love sports just as much as men, if not more … people need to be marketing towards women," TikTok manager Chloe Higgins said. "So, when I took over the account, my whole thing was like, 'what do I want to see from an account, what do I think is funny?'"
The USC men's club ice hockey team's use of TikTok and other social media platforms has helped increase their attendance at games as well as recruit players.
(Photo courtesy USC men’s club ice hockey/The Daily Trojan)
Amidst the surge of hockey-related content on TikTok, The Hockey Guys have emerged as prominent creators, bridging the gap between fans and players through their entertaining and informative content. What started as a passion project for a group of friends has now evolved into a hub for all things hockey.
The Hockey Guys met while playing collegiate hockey at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and began making TikTok videos during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although they first started creating content for fun, The Hockey Guys quickly realized they were gaining a following. So far, they have 1.5 million followers on TikTok and show no signs of slowing down.
The Hockey Guys' content is known for being authentic, wholesome, and humorous. Aside from hockey-related content, they post about their friendships and the stage of life they are in. The group also makes sure that their content is easily digestible by viewers who may not have extensive hockey knowledge.
"There's people from Brazil, Europe, Australia and that's kind of cool because you never would think that your videos are being watched worldwide, especially when you're like a hockey player," The Hockey Guys' CEO Lawson McDonald said. "They've never seen hockey before and now that we're making these kinds of videos, they're getting into hockey and seeing it."
The Hockey Guys' success on TikTok has allowed them to have opportunities outside of the digital world as well. In fact, the group partnered with the NHL to create content at the 2022 NHL Winter Classic in Minneapolis and the 2023 NHL Stadium Series in Raleigh.
The rise of hockey teams and content creators on TikTok underscores the evolution of fan engagement in the digital age. By embracing these platforms, sports entities are breaking down traditional barriers and fostering a deeper connection with supporters.