Paddy Power is a powerhouse. The Irish bookmaker was founded in 1988, and is famous for its online betting system and website and offline betting shops.
In recent years, Paddy Power has become well known for its stunts – sometimes they’re clever, sometimes they take it too far. For the team behind them, the stunts causes two things: coverage in the media and social buzz. It was this social buzz that I wanted to explore – how do they create it? How do they measure it? What techniques and tools do they use?
Let’s take a dive into the world of PP.
Firstly, it’s important to look at the social media platforms which Paddy Power use.
Paddy Power’s most popular platform is Facebook (facebook.com/paddypower) where they currently have over 1.4 million likes. When compared to the other main bookmakers, their number is impressive:
- Paddy Power: 1.4 million likes
- William Hill: 503k likes
- Sky Bet: 480k likes
To begin, it’s important to note that when Paddy Power reached 1 million likes on their Facebook page, they offered fans the chance to place a bet from space – so they don’t do things half heartedly. This cheeky theme runs through a lot of their stunts, and therefore the content on their social pages follows.
The premise of their Facebook page is to entertain their followers, to sometimes shock, but mainly to get a reaction and – in turn – shares, likes and comments. All their content is massively relatable and relevant to their audience, who are mainly sports fans.
Their Facebook page is a mix of sports-based memes, status updates, images and (user generated) videos. The majority of memes, images and videos are football related – and all link back to their betting options. Once in a while, they share a promotional graphic – either to one of their latest betting campaigns, or to another campaign they’re running.
Their videos regularly receive hundreds of thousands of views, likes and comments – with images reaching similar numbers. The content is short, to the point, and easy to digest. It’s surprising to see a brand do simple text updates on Facebook, but even they work well.
I feel it won’t be the first time I say this, but Paddy Power know what their audience like and enjoy – and therefore what will get them engagement, so they have their content strategy down to perfection.
Speaking of engagement, they regularly reply to comments from fans and followers. Their brand even spills out into their comments – using suitable language.
Another point of their brand is that Paddy Power act like one of the lads. They’re the guy in the pub who’s buying all their friends a drink, laughing about the footy scores and thinking about what curry they want for dinner. Their followers feel part of this group, regularly asking them questions and calling the brand by the “first name”.
This friendly, chatty, laddish brand spills out onto their other social profiles – and something which obviously works very well.
Over on Twitter, Paddy Power have multiple accounts, but the main account (@paddypower) has over half a million followers. They also have a help account (@AskPaddyPower) and one for offers (@PPOffers) – which they have dubbed the “sensible younger brother”. In a similar way to Facebook, this really sums up Paddy Power’s sense of humour.
Their Twitter feed is faster and more relentless than their other social networks, and is mostly filled with gifs, memes and pictures related to current events and news:
The next series of Top Gear will be presented by Matt Le Blanc, Les Dennis, and Barry from Eastenders.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 4, 2016
Again, their content is relative to their audience (and is not always a cross-post of their updates on Facebook or Instagram), which a lot being general enough to get a large number of retweets:
It's Friday!! pic.twitter.com/SCLkuUYt42
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 5, 2016
They sometimes jump on trends to ensure their creative content reaches the right audience, and gets the reach it needs. Alongside the relevant content, Paddy Power regularly promote their other social networks – including Snapchat:
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) January 28, 2016
Paddy Power use Twitter to promote, entertain and engage. They regularly reply to their followers in the same chatty manner as they do on Facebook:
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 5, 2016
They use Twitter to engage with users more frequently, and treat everyone like part of the gang:
@RossMcCaff oh, that would have been beautiful!
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 4, 2016
Everyone is a friend of Paddy Power, and is welcome to joke along with them:
@Tissi67 ha ha ha
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 3, 2016
Again, Paddy Power’s obviously cheeky and laddish brand shines through in their Twitter feed – and works well to get high levels of engagement. They’re a brand who isn’t afraid to put themselves out there and be the butt of the joke, and the friendliness gets them results.
Paddy Power can be found on Instagram at @paddypowerofficial, and have over 38,000 followers. Their content is similar to their Facebook and Twitter posts, and is on-trend and comedic, with the majority photoshopped:
A lot of people enjoy the content, because it relates to their sport-loving, laddish audience well:
Paddy power's Instagram account is one of the greatest things I've ever seen #blessed
— Evan (@Evan_H_) January 18, 2015
They use a lot of hashtags in their posts – sometimes sarcastically to add to the humour of the subject. Their Instagram strategy is simple: post photos and videos which will make people laugh or engage, with no mention of selling. Again, it works well – they have a lot of followers, and they receive a high level of engagement on every post.
Paddy Power use their LinkedIn Company Page (linkedin.com/company/paddy-power) as an employer branding platform. Even though the updates are more “official”, the wording is still tongue-in-cheek and conversational. They announce company news, graduate fairs and job opportunities.
As LinkedIn does not hold their target audience, Paddy Power’s updates are less often and more specialist for the platform. Still, they receive a respectable amount of likes and comments, and have over 33k followers.
Across all four major platforms, themes are consistent in their content and engagement – and these include:
- Mischief: One of Paddy Power’s main themes is mischief – they even have a “Mischief Champion” who is “responsible for Paddy Power’s stunts that get the company a huge amount of media coverage and create a load of social buzz” (source). Their tone of voice is cheeky, and they are not afraid to shock (and get that all important word of mouth promotion).
- Disruptive: Paddy Power are not a conventional brand – they do things different, and put their own spin on events and stories. Their followers love this, and are not afraid to voice their opinion too!
- Controversy: Sometimes, Paddy Power can be controversial and cause outrage or upset with their campaigns or social media posts – recent examples include the Oscar Pistorius ad, a tweet about police brutality and a Twitter leak which led to a Rolf Harris ad being destroyed. They are not afraid to sometimes push boundaries, but they do get it wrong once in a while.
In essence, the bad tweets and ad campaigns draw attention – which is what they want. The more attention they get, the more followers they receive.
However, it’s not all negative – they do have positive campaigns too including:
- #PPonTinder: A simple Tinder match began a long Twitter thread, hosted by the social media manager for PP who asked followers for their advice to have a successful first date. This drove up retweets, needed no money and soon went viral (appearing on lots of news websites).
- Stonewall Rainbow Laces: Paddy Power recently sent out rainbow coloured laces to prominent footballers, to try and change the attitude towards homosexuality in football – including a strong social campaign across the PP channels and profiles of the footballers.
Paddy Power are sometimes known for being controversial and negative, and may give the impression that they don’t care what people think, however – the truth is – they know what they’re doing, and they do care about what people think. On Facebook and Twitter, they make everyone part of the family, by welcoming comments and engaging with followers and fans. Instagram is a branding platform, whereas LinkedIn is the more professional element – with the famous tongue-in-cheek branding.
According to an interview with Econsultancy, Paddy Power measure the success of campaigns in two main ways: media coverage: broadcast, online or in print and social buzz: mainly on Twitter and Facebook. They do not use stats as it’s impossible to calculate the return on investment – and they seem to be doing extremely well on the buzz. All their content receives hundreds, even thousands of comments, likes and shares – and it’s good to see that people are talking to PP as if they are a human being.
Paddy Power’s original (and famous) mix of banter, mischief, disruption with a hint of controversy is a winning formula, and one that will see them stay at the forefront of betting for a long time to come.