Social Media And The Hockey Fan Experience: Q&A With Philadelphia Flyers Legend Brian Propp

Fred Isbell

SAPPHIRE NOW is full of insightful and inspiring sessions from a variety of subject-matter experts. Each story succinctly attested to the importance of running a Live Business. But as a longtime hockey fan, I was thrilled to hear the stories of how the San Jose Sharks and Mannheim Adler Eagles are enhancing their business operations and fan experiences.

Recently, I played with Brian Propp – a former NHL first-round draft pick, Philadelphia Flyer legend, and hockey ambassador for the NHS Blues – in the “NHS Goals for Giving 2015” charity event this past spring. Brian’s been the catalyst for some memorable fan experiences, including a dream-fulfilling hockey weekend in Philadelphia a year ago. We faced off against Brian’s Flyers Alumni teammates, and I’ve partnered with some interesting social media promotions.

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Over that time, Brian has discussed his perspectives on social media and marketing. And because his insights were so insightful, I asked him to sit down with me in a conversation to dig deeper into how social media and marketing are impacting his role in the hockey fan experience.

Fred Isbell: Brian, how did you come from being an NHL five-time all-star in an elite group of players with over 1,000 NHL games and points to working for such a great cause? What are some of the business and community interests that keep you most busy?

Brian Propp: I had a long career and played with some great hockey players. I was in the playoffs for 13 straight years and played in five finals. I have worked for a few companies the past 21 years and enjoyed broadcasting for nine years. I worked in technology for five years, and now I am doing commercial real estate. I do a lot of charity work, and I am on the board of the Flyers’ Alumni and NHS Human Services.

Fred Isbell: How has the hockey world changed since you were a player and broadcaster? Have technology innovations and the growth of social media changed the experience for both fans and players?

Brian Propp: Hockey has changed over the last few seasons. The game is faster, but I miss the hitting and physical play. The three-on-three play after the tied games is exciting, but the shootouts guarantee at least an extra point. That can make a difference when getting in the playoffs. As a broadcaster, it is still exciting when you get to the playoffs. The best players will make a difference. I have been active in social media for a few years and see a lot of players that are great at interacting with different teams. It is fun to watch how the league has promoted its players through social media.

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Fred Isbell: What are some of the ways you use social media? I see you on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. What are some of the key things you do, and how do you manage all of this? Have you found any best practices that make this work easier to coordinate and schedule?

Brian Propp: I use two Facebook pages –  one for my fan page and the other for my regular people. I am also active on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Plus, I have a Viktre account, which is an athlete-only account. I post a lot of pictures because I attend numerous charity and networking events. I meet a variety of people this way.

Fred Isbell: As a retired NHL all-star and Flyers Hall of Famer, how do you balance being in the public eye, having a personal life, and maintaining your privacy? Does social media make that harder to accomplish?

Brian Propp: I often post on my Wolf Commercial Real Estate site as well as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts. I have a lot of great information that I share. However, I don’t post much about my family – I want to keep my personal information private.

Fred Isbell: You were drafted in the first round by the Flyers from the storied Canadian junior hockey team, the Brandon Wheat Kings, and transitioned right to the NHL as a teenager. With technology, such as social media and mobile solutions, available everywhere, how can millennials – including players and fans – best apply social media based on your experiences? Is there anything that they should avoid?

Brian Propp: Millennials use social media to access and share information. It’s easy for people to find immediate knowledge and stats about hockey players and fans. Following the right players can really help build a good following. The more followers you get; the easier it is to put the right content in place.Propper-3

Fred Isbell: Your first NHL all-star game during your rookie year gave you an opportunity to play with NHL legend Gordie Howe, who recently passed away. In your opinion, what are some of the key statistics that showcase Gordie’s success across his astounding, five-decade career?

Brian Propp: Gordie Howe was amazing. He played for 32 years with the NHL and WHA. But most of all, Gordie was very consistent, played hard, and led by example. His numbers reflect that he is the best in the world, but he was loved by everybody. We will miss him.

Fred Isbell: Who’s better at social media in your family: you or your kids? Is there anything we can we learn from millennials?

Brian Propp: My children are better than me on social media. We can always learn from the millennial – I am still learning myself.

Brian is a retired NHL left winger who played 15 seasons in the NHL from 1979 until 1994. He is currently director of Strategic Relationships for Wolf Commercial Real Estate and very active as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers Alumni team and Flyers ambassador. He also worked as a broadcaster for the Flyers for nine seasons.

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About Fred Isbell

Fred Isbell is the Senior Director of SAP Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP. He is an experienced, results- and goal-oriented senior marketing executive with broad and extensive experience & expertise in high technology and marketing. He has a BA from Yale and an MBA from the Duke Fuqua School of Business.