2012 NHL Lockout: Socially speaking

Al Bello

It's a bit of a contradiction that the NHL brand is tarnished, there is a growing sense of apathy toward the league, and yet 4 million unique social media accounts still follow the NHL's social media presence.

Social media holds little to no sway in these talks. Are they a good source for venting and news gathering? Absolutely. Are they - Twitter, Facebook, et al - a good place to virally push your discontent and Next Big Thing idea to show fans are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore? Well, sort of.

Seeing fans and people remain divided in how to deal with the lockout, no central idea has grabbed hold. There are dozens of fan petitions and at least three distinctive fan movements (Just Drop It, the NHLFA and the... NHLFA?) attempting to voice discontent, but it's a divided effort with little to no unity between the groups, even though they're working toward the same goal.

But there is one thing that gets me, that just makes me scratch my head: Why does the locked-out NHL's Twitter account still have 1.5 million followers? Why does it's Facebook page still boast in excess of 2.5 million "likes"?

People are quick to state how fed up they are with the NHL, they think they have a great idea in how to end the lockout and sometimes take it public (seldom does it draw more than temporary attention from like-minded disappointed fans)... But if you're really pissed off, if you're really apathetic toward the NHL and are indifferent to the idea of league and the Players association ever getting their heads out of their collective asses, then why are you still following the NHL's social media accounts?

It's a passive form of protest, and a small blow to league marketing if you're no longer listening to what the league has to offer (product wise and PR wise). On the other side of the coin, it may look like an empty gesture and not worth the 15 seconds it would take to press "inflow" or remove your "Like". You're just one fan, right? And you follow and like so many other accounts you don't even pay attention to who, let alone how you really feel about them.

To stop following either social media account does not mean you're done, once and for all. It's not like you can resume following the league or begin liking it again in due time. It's just a contradiction to voice frustration at the league and yet still listen to what they have to say or sell you through their social media channels.

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