What is Expected and Accepted from Sports Team Twitter Accounts?

Standard

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 Рso 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?

Advertisements

How “Official” is Twitter?

Standard

Over the past several weeks, there have been a few events on Twitter that merit some discussion and debate.

I’m going to review two examples from the NFL’s New York Jets and the NHL’s LA Kings as they both provide some insight into Twitter’s role in how sports teams communicate (or not).

New York Jets

This case comes out of the New Orleans’ Saints Bounty fiasco. Basically, QB Drew Brees¬†tweeted that he couldn’t imagine that his coach, Sean Payton could be suspended for the entire 2012 season. The NYJ decided to send a reply…

@drewbrees Know you’re frustrated but if he had admitted instead of trying to cover it up, maybe Williams gets a suspended.

Not long after, another tweet came from the¬†NYJ…

At 11:21pm on 3/21 an unauthorized tweet was sent from @nyjets. This is not the view of the New York Jets. We are looking into this matter.

I know a thing or two¬†about sports teams and twitter, and I’m pretty certain that¬†most teams do not “authorize” their tweets, especially at 11:21PM at night. These things happen, sometimes due to the staff/resource in charge of the Twitter account that accidentally sent a¬†tweet that was intended for their personal account and sent it as the team account. This goes beyond sports; such was Chrysler’s experience on Twitter in which personal and brand accounts were confused and resulted in the brand tweeting out an F-bomb.

It turned out that Chrysler’s mistake actually helped increase followers – and that segues into the next example…

LA Kings

During their recent first round playoff victory over the Vancouver Canucks (the most followed NHL team on Twitter), the LA Kings sent out the following tweet after game 1:

To everyone in Canada outside of BC, you’re welcome.

The tweet referenced the fact the Canucks were viewed as one of the most disliked teams in Canada and sent legions of Canucks followers into a tizzy. The tweet also garnered several thousand RTs (over 17K, I believe Рgood enough for 10th most RTs in Twitter history) and went on to help drive close to 10,000 new followers by the next game 2 days later. While many were expectedly upset, others did not take it so seriously.

There was no “retraction tweet” per the NYJ, in fact, a Kings Spokesperson pumped their digital tires with a light apology, which I felt was more than adequate. Many saw the Kings’ tweet as fun, and were suprised that the Twitter account was being taken seriously.

So What Does This Mean?

From my experience, I know that different teams have different opinions and approaches to Twitter and communications. We see many players across many sports as well as many members of the media engage in light chirping and making fun of one another on Twitter Рand in a way that would not be seen in any other venue.

I see this as healthy debate… I think the only correct answer is that it entirely depends on the teams’ market – whether they are a dominant presence in their market or strive for PR. There is no escaping the fact that the Twitter account still comes from the brand, but…

  • Is Twitter part of PR no matter what?
  • Is it strictly fan engagement/loyalty and Marketing?”
  • Is Twitter more valid than any “official” PR communication channel?
  • Can Twitter be “just for fun”?

This is what makes this field so interesting (and at times, challenging). Everyone is paying attention now – and like it or not, Twitter may be more valid and “official” than you think. Teams used to¬†provide announcements via press releases on¬†team, game¬†or organizational¬†operations. Now, teams “release” tweets, updates, pins and instagrams all day, every day.

Where does all this sit with you?