Twitter Approaches to Rethink

This post tackles Twitter approaches in sports that it’s time to rethink. I’ve picked these trends for several reasons. Some aren’t fan-friendly, while others don’t leverage the strength of the platform. I get the list below has large, blanket statements. I know that some of the things listed here might make sense for your team, league or organization based on goals, resources and situations. My hope is this post might get you thinking about why you approach things a certain way. We’re all guilty of getting in a rhythm of doing things the same old way. If this post makes you sit back and ask “why” at all, then it’s done its job.

So without further ado, here are current Twitter approaches in sports I wish would go away (with a little help from my #smsports friends):


No. 1- Play button on images.

There are few things more frustrating than seeing the “play” button on Twitter only to realize that it’s not an actual video but a screenshot driving elsewhere. Not only is this deceiving for fans, but it also makes content consumption more difficult. Fans want to consume easily and quickly.

Today video content can be shared straight on the platform, so why not meet fans where they are? The days of only driving people to .com should be gone. Let your fans consume great content on the platforms where they play and drive to deeper dives that social can’t provide.


No. 2- Same GIF over and over again.

I love GIFS that enhance play-by-play coverage. That said, it gets redundant when teams use the exact same GIFS over and over again. If you plan GIFS for certain moments (like touchdowns, interceptions, etc.), create multiple options to pull from so you can mix it up. GIFS can be repurposed and used again, but there’s a fine line before the content gets boring.

The @Seahawks score GIFS are a great example of using templates to turn out content quickly but also keeping it fresh. They mix up the visual with different photos for every score update:


No. 3- GIFing just to GIF.

I love GIFS, but they can be overused. Take the time to think through a strategy for your GIFS and figure out the moments where you can use them for the greatest impact.

Remember this: GIFS are a treat and not an every tweet thing.


No. 4- Not engaging with fans.

All too often teams and leagues just push on the platform. Twitter isn’t just a broadcast platform; it’s a community where teams and leagues need to engage. The platform is an opportunity to foster relationships and cultivate brand ambassadors. I’m amazed at how many teams still don’t take the time to engage with their fans.

When a team / league @replies to a fan on Twitter, they’re encouraging them to be brand ambassadors and igniting their passion. A reply to a fan encourages them to tweet their love of the team / league even more. Additionally, people often retweet brand responses and replies to them. This is a win, as there’s nothing more powerful than earned media and word of mouth.

The ability to listen and connect directly with fans is one of the things that sets Twitter (and social media) a part from traditional media. Take advantage of it.


No. 5- Using retweets as engagement.

Many teams retweet fans like crazy, but don’t engage. The idea of using retweets as a form of engagement needs to change. I believe in retweeting, but the tweet should add value to entire audience. Don’t retweet as an acknowledgement. Reply to acknowledge and retweet to add value. If you only retweet then you aren’t engaging.


No. 6- Play-by-Play.

There is still way too much play-by-play on Twitter. The platform isn’t about replacing the broadcast; it’s about enhancing the viewing experience for those at home. There are so many ways for fans to consume play-by-play if they want it. Don’t clutter your feed with boring and mundane play-by-play updates. Focus on the big moments, color commentary and “insider” stories that add more value.

When you look at the stats, you’ll notice fans respond to color commentary and fun reactions much more than standard play-by-play. Look at these examples from the @Panthers (who in their defense don’t do much play-by-play) and the engagement each with each tweet:

As you can see above, the tweets that perform best are fun; they make it seems like the account is sitting in the living room with you. They are anything but dry and boring play-by-play (and this is from a team that doesn’t even do that much play-by-play).


No. 7- Not creating for the platform.

Square images don’t belong on Twitter. We all know that, so stop trying to force it. No matter the platform, all content should play to the platform’s strength. This means creating content specifically for Twitter (2:1 ratio). Make it easy for fans to consume your message. Size your graphics accordingly.


No. 8- Pushing Facebook and Instagram Links.

This one goes along with creating for the platform. Long gone should be the days of cross-promoting Facebook and Instagram links to Twitter. First, what works on Facebook and/or Instagram might not work on Twitter. Second, Facebook and Instagram links aren’t media rich. If you have great content, tailor it to Twitter and share it natively. It’s okay to share similar content across platforms, but it should be repurposed appropriately.


No. 9- Forcing Humor.

Somewhere along the line in sports we’ve gotten the idea that humor and gimmicks are what it takes to win on Twitter.

This is sports though! Sports are full of emotion, stories and big moments. The beauty is that you don’t have to resort to gimmicks. Save humor for the moments where it really makes sense. Don’t force it!

Additionally, don’t cross the line for the sake of vanity metrics. Stay on brand and remember that everything you tweet is a reflection of the organization through and through. Twitter and social media is suppose to be fun, but it shouldn’t come at a cost.


The bottom line is this: Take a step back and evaluate why you do what you do. I know some of these things might make sense for your team or league, but make sure content consumption is easy for fans and that you leverage Twitter’s strengths. Twitter isn’t just about broadcasting, so be thoughtful in everything you do.



When I asked the what trends people who like to see go away, I got some great responses that I didn’t get a chance to include. You can view the entire thread here.



Thanks for reading! 

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  1. I hope you will suspend reason 6 for a day when next year Georgia Tech “live tweets” play by play from the GT-Cumberland game on the 100th anniversary. If I can’t talk Chris Handle into doing it I might do it myself.

  2. These tips are awesome! As someone who uses twitter to enhance my personal viewing experience when I am watching my favorite basketball team the Trail Blazers, those are all important things that I notice that good teams don’t do on twitter. The Blazer’s twitter account is personally why I want to get into PR and social media in sports and your advice is really helpful in what to look for in good twitter use.

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