Name: Carlos Figueiredo (SpeakoftheDevs)
Location: New Jersey
Occupation: Self-employed business owner & NJ Devils / NHL blogger for six different sites.
Twitter name: SpeakoftheDevs
Favorite Team: New Jersey Devils
I like to explain it this way: If you’ve even been sitting around with friends and had that “Man, I wish (insert team name here) would do (insert great idea here)” conversation… that’s basically what the Generals do, initiate conversations, ask for ideas, listen to comments, both good and bad… except we have a direct line to the team. We can take that feedback and present it to the team, and make sure the team is aware of what the fans are talking about, and what they want to see. It’s all about creating a feeling that all Devils fans, no matter where you are located, are a family.
What’s a typical “shift” like when you are serving as a General?
It varies. Some generals do game coverage from home (mostly during road games). For home games, we can be sitting in Mission Control (pictured below) keeping track of #Devils1stGoal guesses and answering fan questions from our Twitter account (@DevilsGenerals), writing up blog posts for DevilsArmyBlog.com, or writing up Facebook posts. We also go out on the concourse with iPads and interact with fans, get feedback, hand out Devils merch, etc. We are also starting to go out with FlipCams to get crowd reactions, do fan iterviews, etc. Again, it’s about creating a sense of family, where every Devils fan can come to a game and get a sense that they “know” everyone else around them.
How do you think the New Jersey Devils are helping shape social media in the modern NHL?
First of all, I think the NHL does the best job of all major sports in using social media to its advantage. I think the Devils are taking it to the next level.
I’ve seen a few people say they thought is was “weird” or “creepy” that the Devils had us “monitoring” conversations on Twitter and other sites. For those people, I ask: What is your definition of social media? Are you there simply to send out your link and push things on people without interaction? Isn’t social media all about initiating, or “monitoring” a conversation, and jumping in when you have something to add?
The Devils know that no matter what they do, they can’t get the feedback from fans that other fans can get. The Devils Generals are season ticket holders, non-season ticket holders, locals, fans who live hours away, people who have been fans from the very start, and newer fans of the team. We (the Generals) have been interacting with other fans across all sorts of social media, forums, message boards, etc. for years.
The Devils started this program knowing that they could bring in fans and create a true social media hub, where we can do what we’ve always been doing anyway, but with unprecedented access to the team, where we can actually make a difference and help improve the fan experience… I think that’s what social media is all about.
The Devils Army Generals idea is pretty unique. What do you think other teams can do to embrace social media while not just copying the idea?
There are certain teams, the Devils, Islanders, Blackhawks, Red Wings, and a few others, who truly know what social media is, and how to use it to their benefit. Just being on Twitter and/or Facebook, or any other form of social media, to answer questions is huge. Interacting with fans is what social media is all about. There are quite a few teams who simply send out links, post game updates… and that’s about it.
Teams have a unique opportunity to not only instantly update their fans, but create buzz without much work. What the Kings and Avalanche did with their hashtag battle is a perfect example of that.
While what the Devils are doing is a huge step in putting the “social” in social media, there are countless ways that teams can embrace and use it to their advantage.
Social media is constantly changing (Think Xanga to Myspace to Facebook & Twitter):
Part 1: Will the Army Generals evolve and take on new roles?
We already have! I can’t express enough how exciting it is to know that the team, upper management, basically everyone involved in the decision making process for the Devils, is 100% behind the program. We already have other things lined up that we will be unveiling shortly, and as social media evolves, so will we!
Part 2: How will it ensure longevity and avoid being just a temporary experiment?
As long as there are new ways to keep fans involved, and as long as we stay on top of those new ways and are able to use them to bring fans closer together, and closer to the team, the program will be successful and continue to grow. The key in all of this is making sure the fans know they are heard, and most importantly, that it is fun for everyone!
The Devils have been a pretty crazy story this year. In your opinion, what is the driving force behind all these victories, and why was this team so different at the beginning of the year?
I think it’s a combination of a few things. First, the team just wasn’t as bad as they were playing at the start of the season. Eventually, they were going to win some games. Secondly, Jacques Lemaire. Say what you want about his style – It’s boring, the trap sucks, etc.. etc.. – but he wins games. I’ll take a 1-0 win over an 8-7 loss any day of the week… and Jacques knows how to do that. Lastly, but I also feel it shook things up a bit, was the trade of Jamie Langenbrunner. When the team captain gets traded, it sends a message. I think everyone saw it coming, especially after Lemaire came back, but when that happened it was a true wakeup call.
Regardless of what happens this season, what do you envision the Devils doing this offseason?
Probably not a lot. The priority, of course, is to re-sign Parise. He is a RFA, but I have no doubt he will be wearing Devils red for a long time to come. Sorry, ladies.
Other than that… there’s probably not a lot they can or will do. They will still have salary cap issues, so other than perhaps trading someone like Brian Rolston to clear up some room and bringing in a top-two center, and can’t see them doing a whole lot. Of course, when Lou Lamoriello is involved…
What would you like to see the NHL do differently, whether on or off the ice?
Is overall consistency too broad of an answer?
I think most fans would agree that, from the referees on the ice, to the decision makers at the top, consistency has been a huge problem.
With the issues already coming up in some of the other sports, the NHL has a very unique opportunity to market the game to everyone looking for an alternative, should their sport not have a season. If the biggest stories coming out of the NHL are how inconsistent they are when it comes to…well, just about everything… it’s not a good start.
Favorite current player and favorite player of the past?
Favorite current player has to be Ilya Kovalchuk. Favorite current non-Devil: Alex Ovechkin. Favorite player of the past: Scott Stevens. Non-Devil: Theo Fleury.
Let’s Go Devils… We Believe!