Home > life, online marketing, social media, sports > Social Media in Sports: How the Minnesota Timberwolves Are Connecting and Succeeding

Social Media in Sports: How the Minnesota Timberwolves Are Connecting and Succeeding

If you haven’t noticed on twitter or facebook, professional sports organizations and athletes are taking an interest in using social media to further enhance their reach and their brand.

Teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves have done a very good job with utilizing it to connect with fans on twitter through real-time game updates, promotions and giveaways, and team news updates. Here are some of the examples of how the Timberwovles have connected with fans through twitter.

At the end of February, the Timberwolves gave away a suite with 22 tickets for the Wolves v. TrailBlazers game on twitter. All you had to do was include a specific hashtag replying to the Timberwolves twitter account. I already had tickets to that game; I still sent a reply to the Wolves since a chance at a free suite is too much to pass up. Since I am mentioning this, it means that I ended up winning the suite for the game and 21 of my friends. Not only did the Wolves give me 22 tickets for a suite, Scott Spiridigliozzi, Manager of Interactive Services for the Timberwolves and one of the people behind the Timberwolves account, gave me a gift bag including a team poster, t-shirt, warmup jersey shirt highlighting the old Timberwolves logo, and a personalized card thanking me for participating in the twitter giveaway. Talk about going above and beyond to make myself and my friends happy. It was a very fun night with many friends, depsite the outcome. I would not have not had access to a suite without social media.

Last Sunday, the Timberwolves organized the first ever Timberwolves Tweetup in conjunction with Champps, a key sponsor of the Timberwolves. At the tweetup, all attendees were given a free upper-level ticket to the game, free beer was available for the 21 and over crowd, along with light appetizers and a chance at an upgrade to a pair of lower level seats.  The turnout for the tweetup was around 30 people. Most likely, those are people that would have not attended the game if it weren’t for the tweetup. The cost of the tweetup was a keg of domestic beer and for the light appetizers. As their tweetups become more established and recognized, this may become one of their main promotions, all because of social media.

Not all sports teams are using twitter like the Timberwolves. Most keep it to updates about the team, updates during the game, and do not interact with people.  Some of the players of the Timberwolves have created twitter accounts, including Mark Madsen, Brian Cardinal, Randy Foye, Mike Miller, and Kevin Love.

Other athletes in other professional sports are utilizing twitter to connect with fans. Lance Armstrong frequently updates his posts with pictures from where he is training, who he is meeting with about his Livestrong foundation, and occasionally replies to close friends. Shaquille O’Neal uses twitter to give away tickets to road games to the first twitter user to find him whereever he and the Phoenix Suns are playing at.

Athletes and celebrities gain high numbers of followers very quickly because of who they are and not because they provide relevant content, create or contribute to the conversation, or are true influencers. Common twitter users often feel that they are ‘friends’ of these celebrities, despite the lack of reciprocal following. Most everyone follows a few athletes, celebrities, even politicians. Who do you follow? Why do you follow them? Do they follow you back? Have you ever had them respond to a message or @ reply you sent them?

~Jason Douglas

twitter: @jasondouglas

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  1. April 10, 2009 at 2:14 PM

    You’re absolutely right about sports and social networking sites, Jason.

    The number of athletes and teams now using Twitter to communicate with fans is staggering.

    I’ve created the Sports on Twitter directory of verified athletes & teams on Twitter. You can check it out at http://www.sportsin140.com or http://twitter.com/sportslist.

    I think more and more athletes are “getting” Twitter now and understand the site is about delivering content to the fans. Teams are getting it, too, just look at the increase in the number of Twitter only giveaways by sports teams.

    Social networking sites like Twitter are breaking down barriers between athletes and fans and making the former more accessible to the latter.

  2. April 10, 2009 at 2:22 PM

    Thanks for the post, Jason.
    I’m just happy that there are those who appreciate what we’re trying to do in this arena (not talkn’bout Target Center here :D).
    I’ve had a blast learning about social media and social networking over this last year. It’s brand new (especially in sports), and exciting to be able to connect with fans in this way.
    I definitely see ourselves doing more with it moving forward.
    See you at the next Timberwolves Tweetup!

    Cheers,
    Scott

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