Teams Should Not Just Let Players Tweet…

Like it or not (I happen to), Twitter is the flavor of the year, and athletes are embracing it. Teams or leagues that try to stop it or ignore it will be left behind. Similar to children, the more teams reprimand players for using it, the harder they will try to find ways around the rules, and the more that developers will find new applications to help them evade the rules.

Rather than try to control the process, the very concept of which social media is the antithesis, teams should intervene in the process and manage it. This has nothing to do with dictating what the players can or cannot say, or when they can say it (I feel that’s the coaches design anyway). Teams should take advantage of the many opportunities Twitter creates as a marketing tool, an indirect revenue generator, and a distribution platform.

Start by developing an aggregation platform that captures tweets from anyone associated with the organization (players, coaches, personnel, employees) and presents them through a single interface. During any team related function – practice, games, flights, meetings, events, etc – all tweeting gets funneled through this interface. Uncensored, same grammatical rules as Twitter, same usernames, just aggregated through this platform. Fans could then come to the teams website, community site, or Twitter branded page and register to access this real-time event based feed. Once registered they would have the option to only see Tweets from certain people, set up a screen with separate feeds from different players and watch an aggregate feed, or some permutation of the many options.

The end game is building the teams customer database to extend its marketing reach, increase its value to prospective sponsors, create more advertising inventory via the platform, and add value to its fans/followers with real-time “exclusive” updates. If coaches prefer not to have players tweet, the front office should assign a media relations employee or website editor to roam the sidelines and locker rooms to post tweets from a mobile device as events unfold. Obviously, teams would have to put rules in place to prevent releasing any competitive secrets, otherwise its fair game.

CRM and online marketing represent a huge business opportunity in sports. Many teams are years behind corporations in this respect. If they collect the right information, this could help expedite its mobile database, especially since Twitter aligns well as a mobile app. Further, embracing social networking and giving players close to an uncensored voice generates favorable buzz from the fans and the players. With this newly found voice, players can connect to fans like never before increasing demand for jerseys and other merchandise associated to the team trademarks, thus driving revenue

Twitter is also a great promotional tool. Teams can run complex, multi-part promotions that require fans to interact with multiple platforms, look for hints from different players, or earn a certain amount of “social currency” through participation to become eligible. These promotions warrant an entire analysis in to themselves. Driving this type of engagement boosts marketing potential when teams need to move excess ticket inventory, disseminate information, or host events, and it creates new sponsorship and sales opportunities to help drive revenue.

Social networks can’t be ignored, can’t be controlled, but they can be managed and used to benefit the brand.

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