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:

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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.

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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?

Meerkat: Are its 15 minutes up or is this just the beginning?

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meerkatI spent the last few days following tweets and content from #SXSW. Lots of good stuff.

There was one big thing happening at “South By” (shortened from South By South West, so its cooler) and that was Meerkat.

Despite the fact that Meerkat has been making waves in the digital and social community for weeks now, the kicker was Twitter killing the app’s access just prior to the SXSW festival getting underway. And if there was one lesson that we have ever learned from pop culture – banning something only makes it cooler.

I can’t tell you how many Meerkats I saw being tweeted – on the spot interviews, photos of people holding a Meerkat broadcast, Meerkats of presentations, Meerkats of concerts… There were Meerkats every where, like an Animal Planet marathon.

Will Meerkat “survive” without Twitter? We’ll see: here’s a post form Yahoo! Tech about it. I’m not into guesses.

One thing I will say – Live video via social is on trend. Big time. Whether it’s Facebook’s March Madness event Twitter’s acquisition of Periscope, or Meerkat, look for live video on your social channels today.

Sports Team Twitter Personas: Be True To Your Brand

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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…
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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.

I Never Wanted to Write This Post

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I hate it when people blog something like, “It’s been a long time since I last posted…”

But for real – it has been. Real long. But I’ve been busy. For real. Between my current Community Management roles and other projects, not to mention my 3 boys (age 6, 8 and 10)… Yeah, I’ve been busy. I couldn’t even remember my password to log in.

Anyways, enough excuses.

What is the Top Social Network to Drive Visits to Corporate Websites?

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The answer might surprise you…

LinkedIn, with 64%. Compare this to Facebook, coming in at 17% and Twitter at 14%.

More details here on surprising LinkedIn stats, but this is one that I think merits the question, “Should we be active on LinkedIn as part of our social strategy?”

What are your thoughts?