Sports Team Twitter Personas: Be True To Your Brand

The other day, I criticized the Toronto Maple Leafs on Twitter for using a bunch of funny GIFs. I tweeted them about it, and the account sent this back to me…

It seems a number of sports team Twitter accounts are using the “funny GIF” model these days – which, in my opinion, became popular after the @LAKings came to be well known for this style.

But here’s the thing – The Kings are based in an LA market dominated by the Lakers and Dodgers, not to mention other surrounding teams. When @LAKings started making waves – they hadn’t won a thing. In fact, they sneaked into the post season and began a unprecedented run to the Stanley Cup. Their Twitter evolved along with it. Sassy, funny, leveraging pop culture references and internet memes for good times and tweets. It served them very well and earned them Mashable headlines.

It’s since become fashionable for many other teams to take this same track. Not surprising – this is how success is modeled regardless of the industry, so no blame for that. But, just because it worked for LA, doesn’t mean it works for the Maple Leafs. Or other teams. I’ve had discussions – off the record – with resources at other teams who had mandates from the Executive level to model this kind of activity.

The Leafs are one of the NHL’s all time greatest teams. Original Six. Second most Stanley Cups (13), highest revenues in the League, sell out after sell out. Most anywhere they play, at least inside of Canada, they are met with “Go Leafs Go” chants as displaced fans are abundant. They dominate local media over the Raptors, Blue Jays and other teams. And considering the media landscape in Canada, this spills over into the rest of the country as well.

The Leafs don’t need to gain attention – they have it in buckets. So – why do it?

Know your brand. It’s ok to be funny, it’s ok to be cool, but be true to what your brand represents. Why would you allow your social marketing to have a completely different take than the rest of your marketing tone, appearance, and persona? Twitter shouldn’t be a “wild card” presence – it should support your organization’s overall marketing goals.

We all want to have our work stand out. We all want to innovate, but that cannot be accomplished through imitation. Build your own path – find your own traditions.


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