NFL wins on Instagram on Pi day

The NFL showed it has an incredible grasp on social media on Thursday, March 14, when it posted an Instagram image that connected the seemingly unrelated professional football league to one of the Internet’s biggest trending topics on that day.

March 14 is celebrated as Pi day, since when written out as numbers, the date 3/14 matches the first three digits of Pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, a number very important in science and mathematics. The date is typically celebrated by academics and some Internet communities. Yet, this year, the NFL found a clever way to connect its football league to the traditionally “geeky” holiday.

The NFL posted an Instagram image that had seven past players with their jersey numbers clearly visible and lined  up to write out the first 12 digits of Pi (3.14159265359). The post has 30,000 likes, the most for any image on the NFL Instagram account since the Super Bowl in early February, almost 100 Instagram posts ago.

The NFL nailed it with this post. The post is popular, and that popularity is the result of the league’s social media team paying close attention to Internet trends. A nationally televised and heavily photographed league with a storied history dating back more than 90 years has plenty of Instagram content to post, but even they realize the benefits that understanding Internet trends can bring. The NFL saw how popular Pi day was on the Internet and found a creative way to contribute their culture and history to the celebration.

The NFL found a genius way to connect it’s sport league to one of science and math’s most popular concepts and in the process showed how proper social media use can bring delight to loyal customers and to unsuspecting people with unrelated interests.

If there’s anything we can learn from this, it is that any business can benefit from capitalizing on Internet trends and from creating genuinely interesting and fun content. With this Instagram post, the NFL shows the kind of market understanding that has helped it survive for almost a century and that will help it move forward as technology and advertising changes.

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