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Social Media Content: COVID-19, Success & The Future With Tennessee Titans Social Media Manager Nate Bain

Nate Bain | Social Media Manager | Tennessee Titans

The pandemic has put an even greater emphasis on social media and digital marketing. In the event teams don’t have fans in the stands, the entire sporting experience will be consumed digitally.

Nate Bain

Social Media Manager

Tennessee Titans

× The interview with Nate Bain was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Before we begin, give us a little update on how your job has changed since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

Crazy times! We’re all living through an important chapter in future history books. Despite the work-from-home quarantine, a lot of my work has remained the same. Our organization certainly had to adapt to virtual video chats and email chains, but I think it actually made our group better communicators.

The NFL was fortunate to be in the offseason during the initial COVID-19 hit. We were still able to conduct free agency and the NFL Draft just like normal, albeit all virtual.

As time continues, some of our biggest obstacles revolve around content and the limitations to what we can do. Our fans can only watch so many video chats before they tune out. One of my favorite quarantine content ideas has been our Titans virtual DJ series on Instagram Live. Each Saturday night, we’ve broadcasted live from the Titans Instagram with a different DJ to get the party going for our fans stuck at home. Our most successful execution came when we got one of the greatest running backs in franchise history to showcase his secret DJ hobby. Our fans loved seeing a Titans legend spin tunes for them in their own living room.


The creativity that has come out of the pandemic has been invigorating to me.

There have been so many great ideas from so many different sport social accounts. The pandemic has really leveled the playing field and showcased a lot of great talent… freelance graphic designers, small colleges, you name it. I’m really optimistic about the future of our industry despite the crazy circumstances.

Tell us about your role as the Social Media Manager for the Tennessee Titans. What does a typical day look like for you?

Thank you so much for having me! As social media manager, I oversee all the Titans social media platforms (with our awesome coordinator, Jourdan Gottlieb). My job is to develop our social strategies, communicate ideas across the organization and collaborate with our content team to execute our content plan. In addition, I occasionally operate as a liaison between departments, our athletes and with third-party vendors. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, my role is to communicate with our Titans fans. Interacting with our fan base might be one of my favorite parts of the job.

I couldn’t do my role without our content team. Sometimes I feel like an air traffic controller. Our group is very talented – I just need to direct them to the right path and then get out of the way. Photographer Donald Pageis responsible for the stunning images, designer Lauren Lott stays up late to produce all the beautiful graphics and we have a team of extremely talented videographers bringing you the best highlights. I wouldn’t have a role without them.

One of the maddening yet awesome parts of my job is I don’t often have a typical day. Every day is different… with meetings, content ideas and football transactions.

The off-season consists of a lot of game planning. Our content team meets to plan out ideas for the upcoming season, develop content series for sponsorship and ways to capitalize on key off-season events (Draft, Combine, Free Agency). In addition, we sprinkle in some chaos with random content ideas to fill the void. For example, last off-season we successful pitched a three-part video series on the origins of quarterback Marcus Mariota. Our video team even flew to Hawaii to help tell the story.

Once in-season rolls around, we start to execute our game plans. The football season is surprisingly easier than the off-season due to the regimented schedule. The game plan won’t go exactly as planned – You just have to be prepared to adapt on the fly. That might be the best word to describe a typical social day: Adaptation.

Social media is constantly ever-changing, how do you stay on top of the latest innovations, social trends and new social media platforms from an organizational standpoint?

We are very blessed to have the NFL league office as a resource. The NFL social group led by Rich Elmore and Sana Merchant is constantly on top of the newest platform innovations and how those improvements can help the NFL and individual clubs. From educational webinars to new product integration to the development of the Live Content Correspondent program, the NFL social group is a big reason for our success and ability to stay relevant.

(Pro tip: If you’re near an NFL market and want to get a start in sports social media, seek out an opportunity as your local team’s LCC. This is a great way to work NFL games and get to know all the people behind NFL team accounts)

Aside from the NFL cheat code, our Titans group tries to spend as much time as we can testing things. From our video producers learning After Effects after hours to our social coordinator getting lost in the TikTok abyss, we’re never really experts at anything in social. We learn so much by trial and error and being open to ideas from all corners of the organization. For example, our GMs daughter has been a rockstar for social content during the quarantine. You never know where good ideas will come from.

What goals do you set for the Titans social media accounts? What does ‘success’ look like from a role in social media?

Success takes many forms. Different projects have different measures of success. Furthermore, definitions of success can vary from league to league and team to team.

For the Titans, we typically like to focus on the metrics of engagement rate (total interactions per post divided by followers) and percentage growth. Our overall social follower numbers aren’t as large as the traditional powerhouses. However, we’ve consistently (weekly, monthly and yearly) been in the NFL’s Top 10 in engagement rate and follower growth percentage. To me, that data means our team is making meaningful content that our fans are enjoying/consuming.

Our goal is to continue that pace. Our team strives to continue positive growth at a competitive rate by improving our content and listening/responding to what our fans want.

I’m really proud of our content team for their passion for storytelling and for consistently keeping us in contention in a very competitive NFL landscape. Our next step is to go from good to great and become one of the most notable content teams in all of professional sports.

Where do you find inspiration for social media strategy outside of your role?

Great question!

Inside of my role: I really try to understand/communicate with our fan base to see what resonates with them. Our Titans Reddit has been a great resource for me. Additionally, I like to do the same with our players, coaches and Titans staff. Their willingness to buy into our content plan is huge!

Outside of my role: The social landscape is so competitive now. I think the best ideas have to come from outside of our space/roles. An example of this happened recently with the “Open Door Challenge” meme. I first noticed it with the Tennessee Vols football account. Their director Clay Bollinger told me he noticed a lot of travel influencer posting the meme on TikTok and he wanted to make a version for the Vols. Around the same time, I saw many content teams jump on this trend. An idea that had nothing to do with sport soon took over the sports social world.

Along those same lines, I truly think the sports social profession develops some of the most creative minds in the industry. We are a competitive group but are also very open to sharing ideas and helping out each other. I draw so much inspiration from the great work of my peers.

How important is social media for you personally? Which social networks do you use most frequently, find hardest to navigate and use, and see changing the most? Also, how do you keep up with the continual sports news bombarding you (global stories, viral videos)?

I’ll certainly attempt a social media detox from time to time. However, I continue to come back to my phone. I’m using social media to communicate, stay informed and be entertained. In its most positive form, social media is this unique melting pot… Where else could I form friendships with celebrities, stay up-to-date on current events and see photos of my baby cousins in LA? It’s changed our society and most definitely changed my life.

Is TikTok an acceptable answer for all of the above? Each platform has its place with me. For example, my Twitter “family” is a different group than my Instagram friends. My style and purpose for each platform differ. That being said, I enjoy Twitter the most. Some of my most meaningful relationships have developed because of Twitter. I secretly love Reddit, too!

I find the newest platforms the hardest to navigate… I sound like an old man. Just as I get a handle on our content strategy and get familiar with all the platforms, something new will emerge (TikTok). In those moments (and others), I’m especially thankful for my social peers, our Titans interns and our coordinator Jourdan Gottlieb.

I think the easy answer is TikTok, again. It’s been very interesting to see trends emerge on TikTok and weeks later make their way to Instagram or Twitter. In addition, I’ve personally been fascinated with how popular music has been influenced by the platform… and the music industry as a whole.

A big part of my job is staying informed. It can certainly be a challenge. Occasionally, I’ll go down a weird rabbit hole and end up learning random facts on Joe Pesci’s Wikipedia… I’m filled with useless trivia knowledge. In an attempt to be more productive at work, I’ll set aside time in the early morning (or late at night) to read up on current events.

Finally, where do you see the future of social media and digital marketing going?

The pandemic has put an even greater emphasis on social media and digital marketing. In the event teams don’t have fans in the stands, the entire sporting experience will be consumed digitally.

There will be even more pressure on content and marketing teams to update fans, increase revenue and tell the organization’s story. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, I think those of us in social/digital marketing have a tremendous opportunity. It’s a great time to be working in the field or looking to get in the profession.

Between sponsorship sales, fan information, etc., the post-pandemic sports world will most likely place greater importance on social/digital media.

Hayley Michie Hayley's Final Thoughts

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt on the sporting events. However, the work of Nate Bain, Social Media Manager for the Tennessee Titans hasn’t stopped. In an effort to keep Titans fans engaged, Nate has continued creating content and ideas for the social media platforms he oversees. Even though the Titans aren’t considered one of the social media powerhouses in the NFL, Nate and his team are consistently growing in engagement rates and followers. It’s been incredible following Nate’s journey and the ideas he’s been executing — not to mention the payoff they’ve had for the Titans!

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