June 19, 2012

Twitter Changes the Game With Sports Partnerships

Twitter Changes the Game with Sports Partnerships

Twitter is now aiming to change the meaning behind the hashtag for sports fans everywhere. If you’re a sports fan then you are probably up to date on the latest scores, news, and announcements in the sports world. You might even follow your favorite athletes and teams on Twitter for this very reason. It was this segment of users that Twitter was focusing on when they decided to partner with NASCAR, ESPN, and other major sports leagues to co-produce social experiences around major sporting events.

The partnership between Twitter and ESPN marks the first time the social network site has signed a contract with a television network. The deal will allow advertisers to buy spots on both ESPN and Twitter in a single, two-for-one buy. “Working together, ESPN and Twitter are giving marketers a clear and powerful way to link on-air and online social conversations around sports. It’s the first time advertisers can engage the audience around ESPN’s premier content across screens and where the conversation is happening on Twitter.” said Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter’s Vice President of Global Brand Strategy.

On Twitter, the hashtag’s basic function is to serve as a content filter. But through partnerships with sports leagues, Twitter is turning the hashtag into more of a content destination for users everywhere. Up until now, when users click on a hashtag they are shown a variety of tweets from other users with the same hashtag.

But that will change for various sports events, when Twitter will curate tweets from the sponsorships so when clicked on they will give users more of an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the event. The tweets will be monitored and organized by Twitter in order to show a variety of selected tweets pertaining to the sporting event, instead of just one account of unfiltered, unrelated fan posts. After the event, the hashtag will resume its normal function as a content filter.

Starting with NASCAR and the Pocono 400 race, which aired on TNT on June 10th, Twitter promoted the hashtag #NASCAR to create buzz around the race. During the event Twitter ran its first official television advertisement which promised a more unique and connected experience if you went to their website during the race. Whether it was a picture from within a racecar, a photo snapped by a VIP onlooker or a tweet from a mechanic or car manager, Twitter could show you more than what you would see just watching the race on television.

Twitter and ESPN also teamed up for the NBA Finals to promote the “game face” hashtag. Fans are encouraged to upload pictures of their best game face throughout the finals and attach the #Gameface hashtag. At the conclusion of each game, NBA Tonight analysts will share their favorite photographs on-air and feature some in a photo gallery on their website, before revealing the final winner who will receive a grand tour of ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.

The partnership between Twitter and big name sporting events is a win-win situation aimed to show other brand marketers that Twitter’s hashtag pages are capable of driving traffic. “When sports fans around the world see a hashtag displayed on the air during a game or race, that’s a signal to them that there is a bigger conversation happening on Twitter,” said Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. Future events will offer a similar interactive experience, with new themes and dedicated hashtags to drive the sports conversation on Twitter. Some of the events on the horizon for Twitter and partners include The X Games, Road to the BCS National Championship.

Contributed By: Nicole Juliano

One Comment

  1. Nathan Acosta   June 20, 2012 4:10 pm / Reply

    Great post; I’m excited to see some serious changes on Twitter. The last year has been a slow one it seems – lots of aesthetic changes and improvements in the mobile app, but not too many changes in the way the site operates. As a marketer, this new shift is exciting and it will be interesting to see what happens and how this expands into other brands.

    Twitter’s TV commercials are on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/twitter

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