How “Official” is Twitter?


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 – good 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 – and 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?

Drive to 13,000 and Winnipeg’s NHL Team


As you likely know, the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg’s True North S&E is still pending a vote from the NHL Board of Governors at the end of June. I was curious to see if the official announcement contained any branding, or digital resource and it did. It was clearly stated that a solid financial launch was required to cement this transaction in the form of a season ticket base of 13,000. In order to accomplish that, True North launched:

Drive to 13,

@Driveto13 on Twitter

Drive to 13,000 on Facebook

I got on-board early, around the 75th follower and 50th FB “Like”. I will be interested to see how these numbers grow over the course of this drive and how these assets are tied into the strategy overall. At first blush, there’s not a lot of content there – only 2 tweets on day 1, and the only posts on FB are from fans. With a rather stark black and white logo and digital design consistency, I’m going to assume this as an attempt to not tip the hat on official team name, logo or colors. Makes sense from that perspective…

This approach is very different from the “Make it Seven” campaign a few years back regarding the Phoenix Coyotes and potential relocation to Canada. The social campaign behind that movement (pun intended) was to form a grass-roots kind of approach. Driveto13 is really about driving dollars as this sale is about as rubber stamped as it gets. With a pre sale to current Manitoba Moose season ticket holders, and a launch to the general public to follow, I’m ready to see how these digital assets will coordinate to drive towards the 13,000 target and just how fast that happens.

Thoughts on Branding

For many fans, the obvious choice is a return to the “Jets” brand – but I don’t see it playing it out like this. I have zero insight into this issue, but for what its worth, here is my 2 cents…

I would go with a new name. In fact, the name “Jets” may not even be legally available for all I know as it may in fact reside with the Coyotes franchise (a good point made to me via @kc_douglas). Going with a new name/brand makes the most solid business sense from a merchandise perspective in my opinion. Consider the potential in revenue vs. fans busting out all their old Jets gear. While many (even myself) are nostalgic for the Jets brand, there is simply too much to be gained here. In addition, if the rights are available – they can always be tweaked/updated and added to the mix. For example, you can still purchase North Stars merch from the Wild.

At the end of the day, the dollar always wins. It’s why the team left Winnipeg in the first place. But it’s also why a team came back. This is not a bad thing – it’s just the way it is.

2 Quick Thoughts


1. A follow up on my NHL Draft on Twitter post

There was a ton of info and images pushed out from teams at the draft – at least on the first round. I believe that all in all there was a great deal of good content that gave followers a sense of what was happening on the floor and around the arena.

Highlight of the event: Sponsored tweets from @NHL and Enterprise Rent-a-Car for each of the 30 draft announcements. An innovative activation in this space, and a few promo codes were provided for followers as well.

2. Facebook and Twitter Integration

You have always been able to coordinate your Facebook status update with your Twitter feed – which in my opinion is not a good idea. They are two separate platforms with different capabilities and benefits. Making them redundant is not a good idea – why would someone follow your team on Twitter if the Facebook status update was the same? But that’s not the point here…

The point is – Facebook now lets you see which of your Friends have a Twitter profile as well. This is a big step and should help to increase team Twitter populations and the overall Twittersphere in general. Unfortunately, we have seen more of the FailWhale as well.

This integration deserves a longer separate post – stay tuned for ideas on that.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

NHL Draft: 3 Teams to Watch on Twitter


Last year’s NHL Draft saw some activity from teams on Twitter and I would expect there to be a lot more content this time out.

Here’s 3 teams to keep a close eye from a social media perspective:

Edmonton Oilers: @NHL_Oilers

Not to be obvious, but apart from the fact that Edmonton holds the #1 pick, the Oilers did a fantastic job of using the draft lottery as a successful Tweet-Up back in April, so you can be sure that they will look to build on the social aspect of their Draft. Not only is this an important pick for the organization but represents a key social marketing opportunity.

Los Angeles Kings: @LAKingsHockey

The Kings are the host team/arena, and they were quite active during last years’ draft. I hope to see some “behind the scenes” approach to what they push out. The Kings hold the #19 pick.

Toronto Maple Leafs: @MapleLeafs

The Leafs social population has been growing steadily this past year and the team does not have a pick until the 3rd round. Toronto previously traded away it’s 1 first round pick – which turned out to be the second pick over all in this year’s draft now held by Boston. In a year with two very strong prospects, the fallout from that trade has been a PR issue for the Leafs. @MapleLeafs will be one to watch for a couple of reasons: 1) To see how other teams address the Leafs during the draft, and, 2) Leafs GM Burke has been known for draft day deals, and the team may look to move up and be more active.

I am certain that teams will also be active on Facebook, but Twitter represents a unique opportunity for events. Hopefully we will see a number of Twitpic photos, Twitvid videos as well as engaging updates from teams.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Interview with the NHL’s Director of Social Media, Mike DiLorenzo


I first “met” Mike via Twitter during last year’s Penguins and Capitals playoff series. Since then, we’ve had a great dialogue about social media and the NHL.

Mike manages the NHL Fan Page on Facebook as well as the NHL on Twitter… and you can find him on LinkedIn as well.

I recently asked Mike some questions and will share those along with his answers below:

1. What’s in your social media tool kit (desktop clients or Bberry/iPhone apps)?

I am a social media simpleton.  I use CoTweet and OpenBeak for Twitter, and Facebook for Blackberry.  On the analytics side, I subscribe to a service called ViralHeat.

2. How did you get here/how did this job come about from the NHL?

This is my third season at the NHL, and I started as director of corporate communications.  Our senior VP of digital media, Perry Cooper, appointed me to lead a newly formed social media department at the start of the 2009-10 season.  I had been running point on social media stuff prior to that, so it was a natural transition to doing it full time.

3. Most rewarding moment you had over the past season from your perspective?

I was interviewed on behalf of the NHL by Josh Bernoff, who is writing a sequel to Groundswell.  I may wallpaper my bathroom with the pages from the new book that mention the NHL.

4. Where is the NHL going with social media? What are your/the NHL’s long term goals/ideas?

We are building windows into the NHL on 3rd-party sites, so we can expose fans to the game and capture a share of their minds when their not necessarily on or watching a game.  Our long term goal is to become more pervasive in the hearts and minds of fans in North America and beyond, and to give them many more reasons to spend time, energy and emotion with us.

5. Your blog, “From the blue seats“… where is this for you now?

I need to water it and put it in the sun before it shrivels up and dies!  I am hopeful that I will have more time to dedicate to it this summer and all of next season.  What I’d like to focus on is social trends in sports, and occasionally some opinion pieces on the game itself.  I am all ears if people have ideas.

6. Are you currently incorporating any league sponsors into your social media spaces, if so – how?

We promote all of our partner activations on our social media.  It’s an area that we’re becoming smarter and more sophisticated with, and are developing business models around.  Currently, we’re really excited about the Bud Light Canada Facebook app that’s out there right now.

7. The NHL has more followers on Twitter than Facebook fans – why is this?

When we were named to the “recommended user” list by Twitter, we were seeing very strong weekly growth rates.  Once Twitter changed the mechanics of the recommended list, our growth rate slowed.  Now, with the integration of the Like button on, we’re seeing hypergrowth on our Facebook page.  I don’t think it’s a referendum on the technographics of our fans, or our success/failures on one platform or another.  To me, it’s circumstantial.

8. How do you stay current on new tools and trends? What are you reading (online or otherwise) or who do you listen to?

I love to read Fast Company, and Lauren Goode’s stuff in the Wall Street Journal.  She is a terrific reporter.  Of course, MediaPost, Mashable and TechCrunch are must-reads, and I also try to stay current on industry analyst reports.  I also learn a fair amount from Gary Vaynerchuk, who has been an adviser to the NHL this season.  My favorite bloggers are Shannon Paul and Guy Kawasaki.  Truly, I wish I had more time to dedicate to reading up on Trends.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Facebook… Like It


Facebook launched some potent new tools yesterday and I will start to break down what it means for sports marketers…

You may have heard/seen that recently Facebook changed the term “Fans” from its Pages to simply, “Like”. So now, your Page doesn’t have fans, but people who like it (too bad – “Fans” was a perfect fit for sports teams). Now, the idea of “Like”ing something gets a whole lot more engaged.

Social Plugins

If you are familiar with Facebook, the ability to “Like” something is not new. But through the use of social plugins - check them out here – the “Like” button can show up anywhere, on any website – even your own.

Here’s an example from with Alex Ovechkin.

What this means is that now, Facebook can be pretty much anywhere. The web is increasingly semantic and social. Furthermore, “Like”s can dynamically alter a Facebook users profile, and the act of “Like”ing something can create a long-term communication between the user and Whenever there is an update on Ovechkin from, the “Like” will update the user on the Facebook platform. Pretty neat stuff.

Ok – Now What?

So now that you have an idea of what technology is in place – here’s what to start doing with it.

  • Every team site has a roster page – get some Like buttons up there for the players (like the model) and tell your fans to get clicking
  • The viral nature of all this “Like”ing should help grow your Page population as well, be ready to track this
    • integration increased the NHL Facebook Page by 3.2% (>9000 Fans)  overnight after this launch
  • Consider partner/sponsor brand synergy – what kinds of sponsors would be a good fit for social plugins?

I will be thinking/blogging more about the last bullet – in the meantime, more to come on Facebook’s new tools and how to best put them to use.

If you have some ideas or some other great examples/models to look at, please leave a comment and let us all know…

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

NHL Teams on Facebook: Where are they now?


Last October, I profiled the 30 NHL teams and ranked them according to population size on Facebook. As the 2009/2010 regular season has ended, here is a look at where these teams currently sit…

The Century Club

1. Pittsburgh: 187,985 (+58%)

2. Chicago: 168,441 (+122%)

3. Detroit: 157,510 (+77%)

4. Vancouver: 140,443 (+50%)

5. Philadelphia: 129,291 (+76%)

6. Boston: 127, 592 (+92%)

7. Washington: 122,750 (+156%)

Note strong increases across the board – the Pens still lead the pack… the Canucks lead all Canadian teams by a sizable margin (see below)… with relative on-ice success, both the Boston and Philly are strong hockey markets in large cities.

50K – 100K Club

8. Buffalo: 78,356 (+74%)

9. Colorado: 74,992 (+249%)

10. Toronto: 69,116 (+273%)

11. Carolina: 59,507 (+211%)

12. NYR: 54,942 (+147%)

13. Minnesota: 51,906 (+60%)

14. San Jose: 50,461 (+164%)

Note the steep drop from #7 to #8 position… very strong % increases from the Leafs, Avalanche and Hurricanes here. Still huge potential for NYR and the Leafs considering their market size and fan base.

30K – 50K Club

15. St. Louis: 47,311 (+136%)

16. Edmonton: 40,966 (+153%)

17. New Jersey: 39,674 (+205%)

18. Calgary: 33,385 (+102%)

19. Ottawa: 31,827 (+72%)

20. Dallas: 30,523 (+46%)

21. Anaheim: 30,105 (+57%)

These teams see strong % increases as well – Note Edmonton’s #16 position proving that a winning product isn’t everything (but it certainly doesn’t hurt).

Under 20K Club

22. Nashville: 16,911 (+86%)

23. Tampa Bay: 15,877 (+230%)

24. New York Islanders: 14,796 (+61%)

25. Phoenix: 12,641 (+164%)

26. Florida: 12,551 (+110%)

27. Columbus: 10,786 (+1056%)

28. Los Angeles: 7,293 (+55%)

29. Atlanta: 5,825 (+145%)

Despite some significant % increases across this group (note Columbus up from 933 fans at the beginning of the season), Phoenix, Nashville and LA provide similarly to Edmonton that winning isn’t everything…

* Montreal: Official Facebook Community is a Watercooler App and not a Facebook Fan Page – current fan total: 498,673

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

6 Questions for Jay Feaster


I recently connected with Jay Feaster (NHL Insider on NHL Radio, Blogger for The Hockey News and EVP and GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2002-2008) and asked him the following questions about social media, sales and sports:

1. What impact does social media have on your  bi-weeky blog on the The Hockey News (or your work with NHL Live)?

Social media really doesn’t impact my bi-weekly blog for I am not a Facebook person and I don’t use Twitter or follow anyone on those social media outlets. I read the newspapers and beat writer blogs from around the NHL, I always check, I try to keep up on what Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun  and E.J. Hradek write on and I often read; however, I don’t use the social media sites. I also watch as many games as possible every night and I make it a point to catch NHL on the Fly on NHL Network.

2. From your perspective at the Executive level – what do you most dislike about sales people?

I dislike sales people who don’t understand the product and those who don’t respect the product. I believe the Hockey Operations Dept and the Sales Staff must work together in order for an organization to be successful. However, it is important that the sales staff understands the demands on the players and respects the chain of command. It is also frustrating when the sales personnel treat everyone in the same manner. B/c the demands on the players are so great we need to make sure that it is our VERY BEST customers we are “rewarding” with the special perks of a player’s time, travel with the team, etc. Just as in Las Vegas you won’t see a casino comping the once-in-while customer who gambles a couple hundred dollars, but rather takes care of the true “high rollers,” it needs to be the same in our business. We need to truly reward the very big spenders!

3. What qualities/skills or attributes do you think are required to make a good sales person?

I want our sales people within the organization to be hard-working, honest, bright, knowledgeable, personable, and able to relate to our potential customers. You need to be driven and you need to have a passion for what you are doing.

4. In your day-to-day work as a GM and/or EVP, did social media factor into your work?

It didn’t factor in all that much in Hockey Operations; however, it would be a much bigger factor now than it was prior to my departing the team in July of 2008. The organization needs to use the various social media outlets to its advantage, and were I managing a team now I would certainly utilize the technology. (I would look to Ted Leonsis and the Washington Capitals for the blueprint or road map on how to do it best b/c I really believe Mr. Leonsis has the Caps at the cutting edge of the social media phenomenon.)

5. Are you a regular linkedin user? What does linkedin do for you?

I enjoy linkdedin and I use it on a regular basis. I like to see what my former colleagues are doing and the various groups they have joined. It is a great way to keep in touch with people and network at your own pace and pleasure.

6. What gets you interested or excited about the NHL or member clubs use themselves regarding social media?

Again, I think we can all learn a great deal from the Washington Capitals and how they have made use of the various social media forums. There are so many uses an organization can make and it’s clear that player agents are aware of the value such sites have for their clients. We live in an information age, and it is great to be able to get critical information to our fans quickly and, in many cases, in real time. Without a doubt, in the event I am fortunate enough to land another job managing an NHL Club, I would make extensive use of social media as a way to stay in touch with and inform fans. The more we can do to make fans feel like “insiders” the better our chances of retaining those fans for life, and social media helps make that possible.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

NHL Teams on Facebook: FanPage Rankings


fbook logoHere’s a list of the NHL club’s “official” (i.e. owned and operated by the club) Facebook FanPages ranked by total population – with some analysis to follow…

Montreal*: 491,271
Pittsburgh: 119,073
Vancouver: 94,714
Chicago: 75,806
Philadelphia: 73,366
Boston: 66,307
Washington: 47,881
Buffalo: 45,028
Minnesota: 32,463
NYR: 22,210
Colorado: 21,452
Dallas: 20,876
St. Louis: 20,066
Anaheim: 19,188
San Jose: 19,129
Carolina: 19,125
Ottawa: 18,542
Toronto: 18,494
Calgary: 16,526
Edmonton: 16,201
New Jersey: 13,014
NYI: 9,172
Nashville: 9,078
Florida: 5,981
Tampa: 4,808
Phoenix: 4,787
Los Angeles: 4,707
Atlanta: 2,381
Columbus: 933
*Montreal leverages a 3rd party app for their Facebook Fanpage.


Montreal’s “official” page uses a WaterCooler app – I blogged about this in an earlier post. It works in a much different way… Pittsburgh’s 2nd place rank seems quite obvious as they possess some of the games’ brightest talents and stars and are the current Stanley Cup Champions.

Vancouver stands out here at #3. Without a Stanley Cup in its history, the primary reason that the Canucks rank so high is their positioning and focus on social media.

I am most surprised by Toronto – an original 6 team in a huge market with loads of history and success; Toronto’s numbers are not strong compared to their brand, profile, status in the league and widespread fan base.

What are your thoughts on this list?