Atlanta Falcons Twitter Strategy Shift
Subject to strict PR-driven internal policies for messaging and content subject matter on social media through 2014, we were a growing, successful social media presence despite ourselves. Around that time, several teams were gaining popularity and fans through a casual approach to voice and creating content inspired by Internet culture, signaling to me the potential of an industry shift that could leave our franchise in the dust if we didn't do something about it.
If it continued, our existing policy would:
Keep us aimlessly tweeting play-by-play during games instead of facilitating, amplifying or taking part in the shared experience of second-screen viewing with our audience on our biggest day of the week.
Severely limit our potential reach, engagement and growth by preventing us from nimbly jumping on trends or creating the type of content our audience was consuming elsewhere from accounts speaking to them in a way that connected with them.
Undo the extremely hard work we put into taking the Falcons from dead-last in NFL web and social media KPI rankings to the top-5 in those same categories by fostering stagnation that would stunt and reverse our growth to that point.
At the end of the 2014 season, I began working on moving the Falcons into the future through research and speaking with colleagues at other teams to learn about their policies and strategies. I compiled what I learned into a presentation that outlined what problem we were facing, what direction I felt social media for official team accounts was heading and the risks we'd face if we did nothing.
Additionally, I detailed my proposed strategy that would usher in this new era for our franchise, some points of which included:
Dropping formality and molding our tone to fit the environment and vernacular of Internet culture.
Creating shared experiences with our followers through facilitating or amplifying moments that foster connection.
Requesting the latitude and trust to forego the chain of command to act nimbly on short-term trends relevant to our brand and team that present growth and amplification opportunities.
Producing content and writing captions that satisfy at least one of two categories: entertain or educate.
Taking calculated risks and embracing the idea of "failing forward."
Results & Recognitions
When I set out to create this significant change, I simply wanted our franchise to keep up with the times so we could maintain our trajectory. I never expected nor set out to draw positive media attention and accolades as a result, but it was a welcomed byproduct.
I also never expected our follower growth to explode by 52% year-over-year and shatter our own and Twitter's benchmarks at the time. That growth has yet to stop all these years later as the team continued and evolved the strategy I put in place. I'm proud to be one in a small group of social media professionals who revolutionized the industry for official team accounts and brought about what is now a ubiquitous approach. Perhaps the coolest honor of my career came in early 2016 when Sports Illustrated recognized our Twitter account as one of its favorites.
I'll be the first to tell you that this approach of wouldn't fit every industry or brand, but I also wouldn't have recommended it in such an environment. Every situation calls for its own approach and this is just one of many, so I highlight this moment in my career to demonstrate my deep understanding of tailored strategy, the ever-shifting social media landscape and the need for constant evolution.