Do you remember the post I did about the best Sydney athletes to follow on Twitter? Well, I didn’t say this in the post, but it wasn’t hard to choose because they’re aren’t very many Sydney athletes who use Twitter. Don’t get me wrong – the guys I chose are awesome accounts and there were many that didn’t make the cut. But it got me thinking… what’s deal with Australia and Twitter?
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t feel like Australians use Twitter as much as the US. Maybe it’s just my friends and my choice of sport teams, but that’s how it seems. But according to Google, Twitter has more than 1.1 million active users in Australia, which is about 6.4% of internet users – roughly the same as the US and the UK. I assume this number is going to grow, especially in Australia where businesses haven’t really tapped into the resource yet, but for some reason teams don’t have their players on Twitter. Why?
If these reasons aren’t enough, the you should know that having your players on Twitter is amazingly beneficial to a team for one main reason: it allows fan interaction.
Leagues agree that fan interaction is important – the game day experience, making fans feel connected to the team, athletes and each other, provide them unique access, and free advertising.
Game day experience. I love the way GWS has used Twitter during games and I think more clubs should adopt this. Fans tweet about the game and add the appropriate hashtag (relative to who GWS is playing, or the classic #gogiants) and GWS selects a few to put on the big screen. Every team should do this. No big screen? It’s pretty cool to read the tweets outloud on the speakers – that would be perfect for NBL games! They could certainly step this up, as well. Broadcast more tweets – even GWS doesn’t do enough – and respond to fans’ tweets – there’s hardly any of that going on. There should be a space for fan tweets on every club’s website. I would even go so far as to select one player per game to interact with fans. Injured players, substitutes, those in the dug out, or even those spend most of their time on the bench (a great way to involve the whole team!) are perfect candidates for this. Show their tweets on the big screen or read their conversations with fans aloud. Let me tell you that if I tweeted about Jeremy Cameron during a GWS game, he tweeted me back and it was on the big screen… well, I might die of joy.
Establish connections. This one is a no-brainer. Everyone is excited when their team or favourite player responds to their tweet or retweets them. It’s SUCH an easy way to boost fan morale. And seriously, how hard is it to press the retweet button? And while it may be superficial, fans do feel like the get to know players through their Twitter accounts. I’ve been following Todd Van Steensel of the Sydney Blue Sox for a few months now and I know quite a bit of about his activities – I vividly remember when he watched ‘The Dark Knight’ for the first time a couple months ago (I also have a pretty great memory, so there’s that) and I think his updates about school and WBC are nothing short of hilarious. Yes, it’s superficial but allowing fans to make connections to players is good for them and you. As a result, I feel guilt about not being able to go to any Blue Sox games this year. I live a few hours away, so it’s difficult, but I still feel bad about it because I feel like Todd Van Steensel is my amigo. Weird, I know, but I’m not the only person who feels that way.
Unique access. I don’t know of any team that has done this yet… but I have an idea: give exclusive access to members (or a certain group of people). You can protect your account so people have to be approved to follow. Teams could easily create this sort of account and only grant access to members. They could show exclusive photos or videos or give exclusive information. This could be the place to update with member news, offer new packages, run draws and give prizes – so many possibilities! It could be a lot of fun! Just another way to reward those who are loyal to your team.
Free advertising. Do I really need to explain this? Twitter is free and if athletes promote games or other events, you essentially have free advertising. Who can afford to NOT have free advertising?
The one downside to this is it can be a bit of a challenge to manage your players on Twitter, and social media outlets in general. There have been many cases in which athletes post inappropriate things on their accounts which get them into trouble – mainly they get fined. But this is very easily avoided: coach them. You coach them in all other aspects, why not this one?
Overall, Twitter is valuable and I fail to see why teams aren’t taking advantage of it… why do you think? Is it because they don’t think it hits their target audience? Because they don’t see it’s use value? They don’t know how to apply it to their club? I’d be interested to know…