How the Atlanta Hawks Took Twitter By Storm

By: Russ Wilde, @RussWildeJr

We all have our ‘must-follow’ Twitter accounts. Whether you utilize the medium to catch up on the latest and greatest in the world of KimYe, or if you use it as an extension of your personal brand, most of us allow social media to influence our lives in one way or another. The extensive growth and magnitude of Twitter merits a thousand page thesis by someone far more intelligent than I, but for the purpose of this article, let’s just take a quick look at its growth over the last several years.

Since 2010, the site has acquired over 250 million monthly users and sports play an immense role in that figure (1). The immediate nature of professional sports plays an instrumental role in the evolution of the alternative universe of Twitter. In an era where most television shows are scripted in at least one sense or another, sporting events provide us with the last true form of reality television.

The role of the ‘monday morning quarterback’ has been transformed into that of the ‘arm-chair GM.’ Each play or decision is criticized within seconds of occurring. People like to be right. They also like to be right first. These two ideals are displayed each and every day and night on social media outlets.

Most recent statistics conclude that upwards of 50% of tweets are about sports or sports related programming (2). This year’s Super Bowl between the Pats and Seahawks obliterated the record for the site’s most mentioned game with over 28.4 million related tweets, breaking 2014’s installment by 14% (3). When compared with non-sports fans, people of our ilk are 67% more likely to use twitter as part of their second-screen viewing experience (4).

Each and every professional franchise understands the necessity of maintaining a social presence; however, like anything else, some are simply better than others at maximizing their potential for generating chatter and connecting with their respective fan base.

Some teams stick to a more business-orientated voice, while others connect with fans on a less premeditated level. The quirky and interpersonal style utilized by the Atlanta Hawks has earned much acclaim over the last year. Many people took note of the @ATLHawks during the team’s 19-game win streak in January.

The social media team, headed by @JarydWilson, decided to add a ‘W’ in ‘Hawks” for every win during their winning streak. Little did they know, the number of wins would force them to max out the character limit for a Twitter name. The team decided to edit their avatar with letters as the streak extended to 17, 18, and eventually 19 consecutive victories.

During the streak, the Hawks’ twitter account and its antics gained much recognition throughout the twitterverse. The team gained more than 60,000 followers since the end of November (5). The teams’ frequent use of emoji’s as well as the use of common internet slang and idioms has created a sense of comfortability for fans. While some NBA franchises and their executives are choosing to berate supporters via email, the Hawks have decided to embrace the community of Atlanta; they even went as far as to thank their fans for their support by making a letter out of song titles on Spotify.

Each night, the social media department of the team takes Hawks’ fans on an adventure. From the Korver Kounter, to the playful banter with other franchises, to the short clips that aim to relate to everyday life, the Hawks’ digital strategy team has found a way to create a true connection with its fanbase.