Early this month there was an interesting article from Sport Business Daily. In an interview with Twitter’s Head of Sports Partnerships, Omid Ashtari out in the US and produced an informative Q&A that covered a range of topics from the NFL to advertising and ticket sales to their relationship with TV.
We have spoken before with Twitter UK’s Lewis Wiltshire, who back then was Head of Sport before moving on to being Director of Media Partnerships earlier this year (congratulations Lewis). In that interview he talked about the need for creating an authentic voice, engaging with fans and being part of the conversation. Much of that is still being talked about by Twitter now as their drive to bring people together across the world continues to grow.
The platform has proved to be the friend of sport and perhaps more relevant than any of its rivals when it comes to live events. We have seen the good and the bad from clubs, athletes and brands alike over the past few years but overall it’s impact has been a really positive one for the industry.
In Omid’s interview there are, from a digital sports fan’s point of view, some really interesting extracts that can be taken from it. Below are those snippets of information and some ideas from which we can always learn, as well as our thoughts on what it all means.
Trial and error with sports team Twitter feeds:
“Teams are constantly live tweeting stuff throughout the season, but we wanted to figure out further, what is the stuff that has the most traction, what is going to give them the most return. … So we staged this conversation with five teams that MLB helped us set up to just test different things out. The biggest thing that came out of this, which everyone assumes but it was proven, is people love media. They want to get closer to the action and they want to get that insider perspective that nobody else has. What was fascinating is the performance of Vine — people love the story telling that’s happening on Vine.”
You can check out the results of their work with the MLB here. There is nothing groundbreaking about what is being said but it reaffirms what we know is the best path to take when working in the field. Teams now have a large amount of experience and have a firm grasp as to what they looking to achieve from the platform. This doesn’t mean to say that all are maximising it but there are going to be different politics and resource issues to be faced within each organisation. And don’t forget to at least test out Vine.
Best Twitter accounts:
“The L.A. Kings is far and away one of my favorite accounts. They’ve taken on the personality of the club but they also sort of shine and show what the personality of the team is. There are two specific examples. One was during the elections. They sent out a tweet on Election Day that said, ‘Make sure you get out there and vote because you will impact who’s going to shake our hand when we go to the White House.’ Then on the other end of the spectrum, the day they got knocked out of the playoffs by the Blackhawks, they sent a tweet to the Penguins that said, ‘Do you want to go get a drink?’ because the Penguins had lost the night before. It’s just personality. It shines through and it shows. The NBA is phenomenal because they’re constantly highlighting their players, celebrating them, sharing stuff that’s really interesting to the fans in real time.”
Very much from a US perspective but it highlights what the team see as best practices. Manchester City and Chelsea have long been held up as the leaders when it comes to Twitter in the UK but that gap has shortened now as all the top teams invest more heavily, especially Manchester United this year. Small clubs are not being left far behind as they look to make up for their lack of resource by being more creative and have the ability to move quickly when it comes to trying something new or reactive (much the same with big and small brands).
Advice for improving feeds:
“We’re not asking you to get closer to the edge. We’re asking you to be authentic and share what you would share with your fans anyways and just have fun with it. Part of getting closer and getting more insight is having a little fun with it. … We’re just continuing to try to educate our partners and brainstorm with them in what is this content that’s going to differentiate you and the stuff that your fans really want, but that’s also complementary to what’s happening on TV. You’re never going to replace the live action that’s happening there, but you’re complementing it with either social conversation or just insights and bringing them a little bit closer.”
Authentic and complementary. Two of the most commonly used words when it comes to social media, not just Twitter. But it’s great advice to sports clubs, federations, athletes and brands about what to do when planning your social media (and business) strategy. It’s not about replacing live events with social media but complementing it, giving the fans a reason to use it and making it either helpful, entertaining or informative.
Can Twitter drive ticket sales?
“In helping (teams) build their follower base, and doing these case studies around live tweeting, we’re trying to figure out what people engage with. We don’t know yet because Twitter’s not a commerce platform. Do people want to buy tickets on Twitter? I don’t know how much impulse purchasing of tickets happen. Surely if a team has 1,000 tickets left to sell they could potentially send out a tweet at noon and try to drive people to a site. Whether that ever lives on Twitter or not, I don’t know, but we’re not going to become the commerce platform but we may enable other people to do it.”
The million dollar question! Surely the next move for the tech company is to look at ways in which fans can purchase tickets, etc whilst within the platform. This has already started with the introduction of Twitter Cards, enabling brands to showcase products, and Lead Generation Cards where consumers can sign up for more information and join mailing lists. The thought of a US team trialling ticket sales through tweets is going to be close.
There is more to be seen on the Q&A if you head over a read the full article. There’s certainly some interesting pieces of information in there which we can all learn from and take into our planning for social media.