What is Expected and Accepted from Sports Team Twitter Accounts?

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I’ve been thinking about something for a while now. Why are sports team Twitter accounts so different from the rest of a team’s marketing mix and voice?

Here’s a couple of examples…

@Cubs. I’m not picking on the Cubs – or any team mentioned here for that matter. But this is a great example of what’s expected – and what is accepted from sports team Twitter accounts.

A month or so ago, @Cubs was cheered (by many) for it’s “trolling” of Darren Rovell. There’s a bit of a back story here – as Rovell is a bit of a self professed “Twitter expert” (FYI, steer clear of people who say this about themselves, judge for yourself if you include me in that group). But he commands a large following, and pretty much everyone in the sports biz follows him. Anyways, the interaction went like this:

cubsrovell2

Funny? Sure, it was a zinger. And the general consensus was that @Cubs was very “on it” for responding as such. But it got me thinking…

Would the President of the Cubs ever say this in the media? Would the GM? No, of course not. But then, why is it ok – or even applauded on Twitter? Why is Twitter different? Because it very much is. But should it be?

We can all agree that a sense of humor is a benefit on Twitter. But insulting a member of the media? Why is this ok and why is this lack of brand consistency not more of an issue?

Maybe I need to find better things to think about – but here’s why it can be a problem…

This week, @Cubs was hit with some pretty serious tweets and images. Hour+ long waits for bathrooms and photos of beer cups filled with urine (yep) from fans that literally couldn’t wait (to be fair, the stadium is under renovations, but bathrooms are pretty important). Where are the sarcastic tweets now? Obviously, this would be like starting a tire fire in your back yard – but, this is part of my point. How should the brand respond – in real time – with the situation? Sharp tweets don’t work here.

CubsPee

Another consideration – how does trolling the media sit with corporate partners who are paying for and scheduling activations with @Cubs? Perhaps not the best idea…

This type of Twitter persona was nailed down by the now infamous @LAKings (but a shout out to the Columbus Blue Jackets, too), known for cheeky, edgy content, they operate in a sports rich city dominated by the Dodgers and Lakers. Hockey is not front and center there – so a tactic such as what they took on made actual sense to carve out a niche in that market. Now it seems, every sports team employs this tactic of sassy tweets and pop culture GIFs integrated into the mix. But why? Is this just what teams are supposed to do on Twitter now?

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation. – Herman Melville

I think this says it all. And to project swagger and sass when your brand and team is performing poorly – because it’s the flavor of the moment on Twitter is everything that good marketing is not (Wait – does that even make sense? Well, you get my point).

I think these are important things to consider about the nature or your team’s Twitter voice. I know how I feel about them, and what I would advise for them. What do you think?