European League of Football’s secret weapon: Social media master Maxi Zimmer

Since the league’s inception, the European League of Football has strived to maintain an active and engaging presence on various social media platforms. As the ELF prepares for its championship game on Sunday, September 25th, AFI caught up with Maxi Zimmer, a leading member of the graphic design and social media team and asked him some questions about his position and the league’s impact online.

AFI: What’s your title in ELF socials?

Maxi: I’m the main Graphic Designer across the league and responsible for the look and feel of the brand online as well as offline. I am also working as part of our small media team in coming up with concepts for our socials as well as the posting for some parts.

AFI: What’s your background and how did you come into the position?

Maxi: I’ve always been interested in digital media and sports in general. While always being an avid sports fan, especially soccer of course, I fell in love with American Football at the age of like 8 or 9. I’ve always been quite tech savvy and had a great interest in design. So I started teaching myself After Effects at the age of like 12 through YouTube and then spiraled into the
full Adobe ecosystem teaching myself all of the Adobe programs throughout the years, all through YouTube. I then started to combine this design interest with my love for sports. After
moving across the country to Hamburg for my studies, I looked up American Football teams in my proximity and found the Hamburg Huskies. This is where I first met Kendral Ellison. He took me into the team and let me design for them and manage their socials. After he was approached to join the league, he threw my name into the mix and this is how it all started. I was part of the initial few in the league and in charge of basically everything design wise from the beginning.

AFI: How have you seen the brand of the league grow in the last year and what role do you feel the social media channels have had in that?

Maxi: It’s actually unbelievable how fast we have grown and are still growing. We saw some potential in the beginning but would have never thought that we get this big in this small amount of time. It’s been a crazy journey so far orchestrating that growth and being a central part of growing our sport across Europe. I think the social media channels played a huge part in that.

We have basically spent no money in advertising in “old-fashioned” ways and focused almost solely on social media. It’s a cost effective and organic way to expand the reach of the brand
and establish yourself across Europe.

AFI: What does your schedule look like in a typical week?

Maxi: It’s all over the place. In general, I would say it is a 24/7 job, even though there are days with more hours and some days with less. It’s no traditional work week in any sense as social media never sleeps and there is a constant news cycle that we have to cater to. It consists of a lot of brainstorming, preparing and designing. I think I have not closed Photoshop and Illustrator in over two years now. There is always something to be designed or put into templates.

AFI: How do you come up with content to upload in a slow period such as the middle of the week?

Maxi: A lot consists of constant brainstorming and observing what other leagues, channels, teams etc. are doing. We have constant communication in-between our media team and talk
about everything and anything that’s happening. We’re always looking to see what we can do and what we might be able to try. Consistent communication with people who are absolutely
passionate about our public image and socials is the key.

AFI: Which aspects of content creation do you think an average follower wouldn’t understand?

Maxi: It’s a full-time job and we’re quite a small team. There is still this stigma of “socials are managed by interns” and it’s just a job on the side. It really is not. There is a lot that goes into every single post, even if it’s just “posting some random pictures or highlights”. Oh and that we’re also humans who have good and bad days. Also when it comes to typos. Sorry for those but sometimes my finger slips and it doesn’t get caught in the ‘check-round’ lol. And no, if it’s a small one I’m not gonna take it down and correct it. Typos are human.

AFI: What’s been your biggest challenge this year and what was it last year?

Maxi: The constant expansion. With every new team another media team comes in to manage and has to be brought up to speed. We are trying to get every team to treat their socials as their most important asset and to invest in good communication and branding. It’s getting more and more complicated with the increase of teams. Also, the increase of players, news, coaches and more. While we are somehow scaling too, the increase in teams is a big challenge to take on. But we’ve done it before and we can do it again. We’re all getting better by the day with the experiences that we are making.

AFI: What do you think the digital future for ELF is?

Maxi: An integral part of everything. We live in a digital age and the league has to be present in the digital world. We have to stay on top of recent trends and shifts in the industry and have to adapt to what is working the best and caters to our fans and potential fans. We have built a solid base to now grow and enhance the product across all channels