By: Parth Shah, @shah_parth_
Welcome to another week of the Social Media Seven, your weekly home for notable tweets, posts, facts, articles, and social media strategies in the world of sports. This week will highlight the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the role model organizations and practices in social media sports. Thanks for joining us!
1. Cleveland Indians (MLB) - @Indians
Another week, another A+ performance from the best social media team in sports. The Cleveland Indians have committed to having fun on social media, not taking themselves or others too seriously and keeping things light-hearted. Following the news of Tim Tebow pursuing a career in professional baseball, the team had some fun with its fans, tweeting out a teasing photo of the quarterback in an Indians uniform and cap. Of course, they needed to acknowledge their "mistake" before the internet completely exploded. Hopping on the recent trend of Arthur memes taking social media by storm, the team comically expressed its frustration of a rain delay with the 'fist'. Not to be outdone, the team accepted a fan's challenge to a game of Connect Four during a rain delay, once again going above and beyond with personal interaction. The Indians' account focuses on posting engaging and entertaining content, that fans, especially younger ones, are willing to interact with and retweet/like. I highly recommend just reading their entire timeline to better gauge how the club operates. Bottom line? Enjoy yourself on social media. Too often, the focus is far too serious. Sports are about enjoyment, about fun, about coming together. The Indians social media team lives by this. #Windians indeed.
2. Atlanta Hawks (NBA) - @ATLHawks
The Indians may be the number one team on social in my book, but the Hawks are a very close 1B to Cleveland's 1A. Famous for their incredibly successful "Tinder Night" last season, where fans swiped left and right with other fans inside the arena, Atlanta has also had tremendous success with its social media marketing strategy. From adding 'W's to their Twitter name during the season's winning streaks to the best GIF game in the NBA, the Hawks are another team that just strives to keep things light and fun. Releasing their schedule with all emojis was a huge success, drawing rave reviews from notable social media professionals, with some even calling it a candidate for tweet of the year. It was not only creative, but also fun for fans, as they tried to decide which emoji represented which NBA team. Don't be surprised if more teams take a page out of the Hawks' book and incorporate emoji schedules into their repertoire. In addition, the team does a tremendous job in giving their fans unique content. Sharing a Buzzfeed quiz is not something you often see; 'testing' followers during the NBA offseason is a great way to engage when basketball is still a couple of months away. Lastly, with much being made of post-race finger wags by US Olympians Lilly King and Michael Phelps, the Hawks had some fun honoring a legend of the game, Dikembe Mutumbo, and his signature celebration. Yes, sports teams watch the Olympics too!
3. Carolina Panthers (NFL) - @Panthers
The Carolina Panthers consistently rank as one of the better social media teams in the NFL, getting consistent engagement, especially as they made a Super Bowl run this past season. As training camp and preseason has gotten underway, the team is back to its old ways. The Panthers have a fantastic graphic design team, as you can see with their 'pick-six' and 'getting closer' tweets. Those graphics are clean, sharp, and best of all, they pop. They make an impression on followers, while also having a 'cool' factor that fans want to share. Incorporating pop culture memes can be a huge positive, if used correctly. Keeping with the less competitive and relaxed atmosphere of preseason, the DJ Khaled meme was used to perfection. Younger followers definitely appreciate something they can relate to and be excited about as the season draws closer. The Michael Phelps face has also exploded in the past week, and the Panthers put it to good use, especially after facing Phelps' hometown Ravens.
4. Chicago Cubs (MLB) - @Cubs
Is this the year the curse is reversed? The Cubs organization has picked up incredible steam in the past year or two, with fans savoring this prolonged success and itching for a World Series title. This excitement surrounding the fan base has translated to social media, as the Chicago Cubs are receiving engagement numbers at an all-time high. The classic white 'W' flag has made its way onto social media, and fans are retweeting these final scores in record numbers. Vine and Twitter Videos have become a big aspect of the Cubs' social media strategy, as these videos provide exciting content to followers. (It doesn't hurt that the team is extremely GIF/Vine-able with so many fun personalities.) In addition, the team does well to respond to fans' requests on Twitter, as the GIF of Addison Russell was produced thanks to a flood of tweets asking for it. The hype videos produced by the marketing team are also some of the best in baseball. Just take a look for yourself. How can you not feel pumped up after watching that? The social media team is doing a great job riding and maintaining the excitement and energy surrounding this team. Perfection.
5. Adidas Creator Studio
Adidas recently launched a new program, allowing fans to showcase their artistic ability and creativity to design their own kits. The Adidas Creator Studio is a unique and fun way for fans to engage with their favorite clubs and to feel like a part of the organization. It is a strong marketing feature from Adidas, as all designs shared will improve brand engagement and recognition globally. This also allows the top teams to connect with their fans, as the top designs could be considered for the future kit design. A win-win-win relationship for all.
6. Must-Read Article: LAFC (MLS)
Successful marketing is a challenge for any sports organization. Doing so from the ground up with a brand-new franchise? Even more so. In this MLSSoccer.com article, Sam Stejskal goes behind-the-scenes and takes a look at the work the LAFC staff is putting in to gather and implement the best soccer and sports ideas from around the world. Marketing is so much more than publicizing - it involves engagement, atmosphere, and brand recognition and strength. This article offers a fantastic look-in to the strategies a new team is employing, in an effort to initially grow its brand and provide a tremendous experience for its fans from day one.
7. Check This Out
The Olympics have taken social media by storm this cycle in Rio. The United States' own Simone Biles has solidified her place as one of, if not the, best women's gymnast ever. After a couple of downright mind-blowing performances, Biles was trending on all social media platforms. Just take a look at how her mentions skyrocketed in the past few days. Amazing.
BONUS: Charlotte Hornets (NBA)
With the NBA officially releasing its 2016-2017 league schedule on Thursday night, teams had their fun sharing the road ahead with their fans. The Hornets put together a unique video, where they caught mascots instead of Pokémon, in reference to the popular Pokémon GO app. The Hawks may have won the day in terms of schedule release, but Charlotte took home the silver. With a fan base on the younger side, it was smart of the Hornets to play to their demographics and have some fun, as a schedule release is generally an exciting and optimistic time for a fan base.