Anyone remotely aware of the social media and sports world, has certainly, by now, seen the ill-fated emoji-laced tweet sent out in poor taste by the Houston Rockets Twitter account. It set off a lot of opinions and ideas. Not so much the pitchforks and torches thrown by easily upset Twitter users, but more so the intelligent conversation that was had by those that work in, and study, the field of social media in sports. Many appreciated the attempt to continue the account’s consistently ‘edgy’ brand and voice, while still recognizing this one crossed the boundary. All noted how this whole situation reinforced the power of social media as perhaps the primary voice of the organization.
A few of the NBA social media managers and coordinators were quick to note that @HoustonRockets had had a snarky, edgy voice and brand all season. While no one can support the tweet in question, I can appreciate the notion of infusing an intentional brand and voice behind every social media post.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of speaking with several folks that work professionally in sports, particularly social media and marketing. One of my favorite lines of questioning is all about how self-aware the team is of its brand; whether they can articulate what that brand is and how it’s reflected in all that they do. Oftentimes, I get a response like “I have never thought about that before” or “No one has asked me that before,” followed by a pause as they consider the question. But, for some, I get a thoughtful response that has been discussed, strategized around, and is clearly seen in all communication and content for fans. Even better is when it aligns with the community’s values and characteristics and, therefore, resonates that much more deeply in a fan base.
Some brands are, indeed, snarky. Some are all about family. Others are all about winning and expecting to win. And, still some are just here to have fun and are self-deprecating even when the team is getting beaten badly. There are so many ways to describe a brand and, of course, snappy slogans to reinforce them.
When reviewing a corporate partner or analyzing a team’s digital and social media personality and presence, perhaps my most important stop is their Facebook and Twitter pages. A lot can be learned from the website, sure, but it is in the social media posts where one can get easily get a quick glance and understanding of who this team is, how they sound, what they look like, what their community is like, what their fans think and say about them. At least, that’s the case for those teams that have that ability to effectively articulate and think through their brand.
So conduct a little experiment on yourself and/or a client. What is your brand and your voice? What are you known for? (And is it reflected in virtually all that you do?) It’s not as simple or easy it seems, but it’s one of the most important things an organization, and even an individual, can do.