By Sam Schwab, Twitter: @StLouisSams
On February 12th, the Philadelphia Wings disrupted the social media scene by replacing the names on the backs of players lacrosse jerseys with twitter handles. This action marked the first time in American sports history that a team has integrated social media on to the field of play. Having been approved by the National Lacrosse League, the Wings were able to use this tactic to help strengthen its social media profile. All players were asked to create Twitter accounts in the weeks prior to the game. During this time, players attended team meetings where they were given professional guidance on how to properly manage their Twitter account. After the game, the jerseys were auctioned off to the public and the proceeds were given to the American Cancer Society.
This tactic that was used by the Wings inspired me to think back to the conversation we had in class about the Mercedes Benz tweet campaign. As a class we discussed how the campaign was an impressive new way of using Twitter as a tool to drive association to a product. Similar to Mercedes Benz, the Wings have done just that. By placing Twitter handles on the backs of players, the Wings innovated once again, the way that Twitter can be used interactively as a tool to drive association, in this case to a player. Although some may argue that this bold action takes away from the traditional nature of sporting events, I argue that this could possibly be the start of a phenomenon where Twitter becomes the universal platform for all engagement with sports.
It is important to realize the segment for which this tactic was introduced. The National Lacrosse League is relatively small in terms of popularity and tends to cater to a small core group of fans. It is possible that this method of associating with players may only resonate with core enthusiasts of a growing sport like lacrosse. If a tactic like this was implemented by a team in a larger league such as the NFL, the reaction may not be as welcoming.
Overall this tactic proved to be very successful for the Wings. Even though it may be difficult to track the effect that this tactic had, and will continue to have on ticket revenue the future, it remains a great example of a new creative way that Twitter can be used as a tool for associating with a product.