“If you’re in media in the U.S., you have to be relevant on social media or you’re really not relevant.”

Those are the words of Fred Gaudelli, coordinating producer for “Sunday Night Football.” That’s right, Sunday Night football. Gaudelli isn’t some 21-year-old in a think tank start-up who’s out there with the incredibly unique title of “social media expert.” He’s been producing primetime football games for 26 years. (Did I mention he’s won 19 Emmys?) This is the guy who introduced the 1st and Ten technology, the yellow line that appears to be painted across the field at the first down marker.

Sunday Night Football has earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Sports Series for six consecutive seasons, a Sports Emmy record. For the last four September – May TV seasons, Sunday Night Football has been television’s most watched primetime show. Let that sink in.

One huge reason is their social media support. Lyndsay Signor, director of social media at NBC Sports says it best. “We are the broadcaster; it’s our game. We want to make sure we are at the top of the conversation.”

If you own a company or control a brand, shouldn’t you want that? Don’t you want to be the one starting the conversations? Look, it’s not just about pushing out messaging or simply creating content (though we know content is king). It’s about engagement. NBC Sports gets people interested in the game throughout the week. They create custom videos and graphics that follow interesting storylines regarding the upcoming game. They create original content. They show cool things that reach a broader audience, like their social series, “7 Days to Air,” which takes viewers behind the scenes to see how the production team goes from city to city getting ready for the next game.

I could go on about all the great stuff they do, but I invite you to read the article here. It reaffirms everything everyone should be doing. Plus there’s a must-see video where a 10-year-old girl asks players some great questions.

The lesson today is this: Social media shouldn’t be an afterthought. It shouldn’t even be separate. It needs to be part of your overall plan from the beginning, integrated into the very fabric of your company. You don’t need to lean on social media experts to tell you what to do. You need to simply understand how important a role it plays and use your creativity to put it to work for you.