Learning From The Sports Industry Can Help You Win On Twitter

The following is a guest post by Paulina Singhapok. If you’d like to contribute thinking here, please read the guidelines.

We sports fans all know how it is: Whether we’re celebrating a home run, yelling at a failed shot attempt at the net, or even arguing with the broadcaster, we are constantly talking to the teams and whoever surrounds them as if they can hear us. Well, guess what? Now they can, with the help of social tools.

Specifically, Twitter has done wonders for the world of sports in quite a few ways. It may seem like the world of sports is completely separate from Twitter strategies for businesses, but when you break it down, it turns out that the smart use of Twitter for sports is based on the same principals as the smart use of Twitter for businesses. Let’s have a look:

1. Exclusive Access

A full-proof way to build engagement with your community is to offer them something they can’t find anywhere else. Twitter exclusives give fans an insider look at a world of sports they would otherwise know nothing about. From something as small as a tidbit from a closed-off interview to a photo of managers having a meeting, fans appreciate being able to get a sneak peek and will always come back for more:

Speaking of exclusive access, you may have noticed that many sports players themselves have Twitter feeds. You can’t get much more exclusive than that, especially if you @reply a player and they just happen to reply back to you (many will).

2. Fan Interaction

A good Twitter feed not only pushes out messages to their followers but also engages in conversation with them. Nobody wants to follow a feed that won’t acknowledge their audience, right? Take for example Comcast SportsNet’s Twitter handle for the Sharks, @CSNSharks. If you have a look at their feed, you can see that there are plenty of @mentions and @replies – they are actively building relationships with their following. One of the great tactics Comcast SportsNet (and many other major sports networks) uses is tapping into their audience for questions to post to the analysts for pregame coverage:

After CSNSharks tweets their request for “Odd Man Rush” Twitter questions, Comcast picks a select few to ask the analysts on-air during pregame live, taking care to mention the Twitter name that asked the selected question. This is a great way to show that Comcast pays attention to their Twitter feed and, more importantly, their fans, acknowledging their presence and allowing them to get involved.

3. Live updates for events

What happens if you’re stuck at work with no televisions showing your favorite team playing the big game against their rival team? What if you have a family get-together that prevents you from gluing yourself to the couch with a bowl of popcorn to watch the finals of your favorite tennis tournament? Well, if you have a smart phone, your problems are easily solved with Twitter.

Twitter is one of the best (if not the best) tool to keep you in the loop for live events. The instantaneous nature of Twitter as well as its 140 character limit caters to short, to-the-point live updates on the go, perfect for game scores with just enough of a description to let fans know what’s happening in the game. Live events are also a great way to get fans involved, which leads to the next point…

4. Contests

A great way to encourage fans to interact on Twitter while watching a live game is holding a contest. This also involves the use of the famous Twitter hashtags (did you happen to watch the MLB playoffs? Did you, too, notice the hashtag #postseason plastered anytime a promotion came on TV?)

With NHL’s “Twitter Watch & Win,” fans who watched the Thanksgiving showdown had a chance to win prizes by noting when the Twitter question was aired on television and answering the question with an @reply to @NHL with the correct hashtag. Contests are also undoubtedly a great way to increase followers and interactions, especially if the contest requires following and interacting in order to win the prize.

So there you have it. It might not be such a bad idea to take a cue or two from the way the sports industry is using social media. In fact, it may just provide some ideas to help your brand dominate the competition.

And for your moment of zen, we present the following video to encourage your team to get #winning on Twitter:

Paulina Singhapok is a social media specialist and public relations associate at LEWIS Pulse. LEWIS Pulse specializes in social media strategy and campaigns for global technology companies that include McAfee, Polycom, SAP and VMware as well as start-ups. For more news and updates, follow LEWIS Pulse on Twitter and Facebook.

image credit: Pedro Jorge Henriques Monteiro via Shutterstock