Boosting fan engagement for the Carolina Hurricanes

Swyft Media, A Monotype Company, created a custom emoji keyboard for the Carolina Hurricanes, boosting fan engagement and making the Canes' Social Media Night a huge hit

The goal

By creating branded mobile content on behalf of the Canes, Swyft Media sought to achieve the following two main objectives: Maximize fan engagement and create buzz around the Social Media Night promotion.

The opportunity

Messaging has been the fastest growing online space over the past five years, surpassing social media networks in size and monthly active users. In fact, the top four messaging apps in the world have over 3 billion accounts, and messaging apps hold retention rates 6 times greater and daily sessions lasting almost 5 times longer than that of other apps. It’s no secret why everyone from celebrities and even sports teams want in on the emoji action.

The Carolina Hurricanes —a professional ice hockey team out of North Carolina — realized that branded content, like emoji, had the potential to help them reach and engage with their fans like never before. Recognizing Swyft Media as a leader in producing creative, cutting-edge, and sharable branded content, the “Canes” used Swyft’s expertise to leverage specific mobile content capabilities including strategy, design, development and deployment for their branded mobile content. They picked their Social Media Night as the perfect opportunity to unveil the branded content, while getting fans excited and growing their engagement with the team.

The process

As part of Social Media Night, the Canes partnered with Swyft to develop a smartphone keyboard with custom-designed stickers and emoji. The designs included “emojified” personalities of the team’s four star players: Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Lindholm Elias, and Eddie Lack. Other custom emoji included Hurricane-themed reactions, hand gestures and iconic Hurricane imagery such as team logos and mascots.
Developed to work on iOS and Android devices, the Swyft Emoji Keyboard was made to be compatible with virtually any texting, mobile messaging app or social network, giving fans the ability to send fun emoji and stickers across a wide variety of platforms.

Leading up to Social Media Night at the PNC Arena, the Swyft-powered emoji keyboard was promoted throughout the Canes’ official social media accounts, within the their official app, and on the team’s website — even the pre-game show featured on-air mentions and images of the emoji keyboard. On game day as part of the in-stadium promotion, attendees received cardboard cutouts of the Swyft-designed emoji of the players’ faces, which featured an exclusive web link for early access to download the emoji keyboard. Fans used the emoji cutouts in a Twitter photo contest (#FreezeFrames) to win Carolina Hurricanes prizes, and the team used the emoji in live play-by-play tweets.

The results

Fans — both those at the game and those watching from home — loved this immersive, over-the-top Hurricanes experience, and used the emoji keyboard to communicate with friends, family, and even the players before, during, and after Social Media Night. The players themselves also got in on the action, tweeting emoji to rival teams, and posting selfies with their own cardboard-cutout likenesses. Even sportscasters were smitten by the Canes emoji!

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