As many of you that read the articles on SportsNetworker.com already know, social media continues to impact the way that sports teams connect with their fans. And, we continuously see examples of how certain teams set the bar higher and higher with every new creative use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
So, when I came across what the Golden State Warriors are doing, I decided to reach out to the man that is leading the social media charge for the Warriors. Kevin Cote is the Assistant Director of Digital Marketing for the Golden State Warriors. And, in this interview, Kevin and I discuss some of the creative Twitter campaigns the Warriors have run over the past few months including:
Golden State Warriors – Social Media Campaigns
- Dub The Vote – Twitter campaign that encourages Warriors fans to vote for their favorite players to make the NBA All-Star Game. Fan are rewarded with exclusive opportunities to meet the players and receive signed merchandise
- Tweedia Day 2011 – Through the use of Social Media, fans have the opportunity to experience and participate in Media Day from beginning to end.
- Warriors Tweetup – Warriors fans had the opportunity to meet @StephenCurry30, secure exclusive tickets to a @Warriors game and a one-of-a-kind #GSWTweetup tshirt
- Golden State Warriors Home Game – Facebook Deals – Warriors fans receive exclusive “deals” when they check in at all Warriors home games.
Warriors Asst Dir. Digital Marketing Discusses Twitter Campaigns
Hey everyone it’s Trevor Turnbull here from Sports Networker and I’m joined on the line today by Kevin Cote. Kevin is the Assistant Director of Digital Marketing at the Golden State Warriors. How’s it going Kevin?
Good, how’s it going Trevor?
Really good, thank you. So I came across Kevin actually through some tweets. I was following and engaging in some conversations with Brian Srabian over at the San Francisco Giants, and we actually just gone done discussing this, Brian and Kevin know each other quite well and communicate back and forth about best practice on the social media side of things. Anyway, I was going through what the Warriors are doing right now with regards to Twitter and Facebook and I thought, “wow, these guys are really taking the lead as it relates to creating engaging contesting and campaigns that involve fans and players alike. I got to get this guy on the line and talk about this.” So thanks very much for doing this with us Kevin.
Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.
Yeah. So let’s start first of all, for the people that don’t know you, how long have you been with the team and what actually is your role with the team?
I’ve been with the team since 2005. Actually in 2004 I was the PR intern and then I’ve been full-time since 2005.
I came on mostly in the email marketing side and then that evolved to the point now where I’m overseeing all of our digital marketing. Everything revolving around our Web site, everything revolving around email and then all of our social media.
OK. So on the Twitter side of things then; when did you guys first get started with Twitter? From the team perspective.
We actually, believe it or not, were on the late side on Twitter. We were monitoring it and experimenting with it but we didn’t go full force actually right at the get go like some other teams did and that definitely kind of set us behind a little bit. But then once we realized fully how powerful it could be we went at it full force. And we’ve seen a lot more success lately with the things that we’ve been doing and the fans have been loving it and we love using it because it’s such a powerful tool.
I’m looking forward to diving into some of the stuff you guys are doing because I think it’s really innovative and people will get a lot of value out of it. Let’s go back to one of the first things that you guys have mentioned that you’ve done and thats the tweedia day. That was back in December of last year?
Yeah, early December of 2011. So right when the season began.
OK. And what was the concept behind that? Maybe just fill us all in on what that was all about.
Sure. So every year to kick off training camp we have an event called media day; every team has it across the league and across other sports. It’s kind of the first time everyone comes together. All of the media comes, all of the guys shoot their radio spots, all their TV spots, all the promos that are going to show in the arena.
So with social media being such a huge, powerful tool now, and with most of our players involved in social media in one way or another, we wanted that to be a big component of it. So what we did is we set up a social media zone as part of media day and we called it tweedia day. So we had live of streaming coverage for two to three hours where we were rotating players in for interviews live on the air. Getting questions from fans who were using our “tweedia day” hashtag and giving fans that inside look of what is going on and also letting them participate by asking questions.
And then in addition to the live stream we had several computers and phones set up where players could tweet from their own personal accounts and we encouraged them to use that “tweedia day” hashtag throughout the day and, again, just have these conversations with fans. We actually had our players take over our Twitter account for a while, we had them take over our Facebook page and just drop notes to some of the fans. Even some of our players who aren’t actively involved in social media, which is pretty few now, but even they were getting involved and going back and forth with the fans and it was a really cool experience for them and most of all for our fans.
No kidding, yeah. So what was the criteria exactly for the average fan to get involved in this? Did they just have to be following you guys on Twitter or did they have to fill out an application? What was the process you guys used to screen the right people?
Yeah so we just, like I said, promoted the use of the hashtag on Twitter. We sent an email about it as well but then we also had it as the number one thing on our Web site, we also promoted it on Facebook. But as far as getting a lot of the questions from the fans it was just encouraging them to use the hashtag and then aggregating all of that together and picking out some of the best ones. It was really powerful to see how it worked.
Yeah. It’s a very unique experience and obviously a testament to the power of these tools right. To give the average fan access to the players and an executive and the staff and everyone else that they might see as unreachable a lot of times. These tools I think have really kind of transcended that distance. It’s helped bring people together right?
So lets move on to the next one. These next two are a little bit more current and very cool obviously.
Dub The Vote first of all. Maybe give us some background into this. What is Dub The Vote all about?
Yeah. So the NBA kind of challenged all of the teams to do something creative centered around All-Star voting. This year’s All-Star voting had no paper ballots, so it was all digital and mobile. You could vote online, you could vote via text and you could vote on your tablet or phone.
So with that in mind we decided to make it more of a digital-centric campaign and what we decided was we would come up with this concept called Dub The Vote where, if you’re familiar with the phenomenon of planking, that’s really where the inspiration came from. Where we were going to ask our fans to pose in the shape of a “W” while voting for one of our players. It got out the word to vote but it also forced our fans to be very creative. And they were able to submit these photos just using the hashtag “DubTheVote” and we were able to aggregate them all together, checked it constantly for all the photos that came in; some amazingly creative stuff; our fans are amazing that way.We saw some incredible creativity and we were able to get the word out about voting too and then we had reimplementations too where we had Stephen Curry telling people how they Dub The Vote, we had some of our rookies doing the posts for us to help us get out the word.
Ultimately we put all of the best photos up on www.nba.com/warriors for everyone to see and encouraged people to do better than this if you can. Eventually we narrowed all of those photos down into a top 12, put them up on our Facebook page and then let the fans vote on which were the top 3 photos out of those 12. We received I think 77,000 votes in two days or three days.Got the top three, and then we had the top three fans and their photos came to a game, we showed their photos up on the big screen, and then had the fans in the arena actually decide who the winner was. And then the winner, which was actually a really creative family with five kids all shaped in the “W” with their phones and their iPads and their laptops, they won the ultimate prize which was actually that they got to come to a practice and meet the three guys on the all star ballot; Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and David Lee.
So it was a great experience for them and they had a great time. Overall it was just a fun way to be creative ourselves but then to let our fans be creative as well and take advantage of a hashtag again.
Yeah, and kudos to you guys for this.
We’re obviously looking at this page right now and there’s a number of very creative photos. It’s amazing how original some of these truly are. And I think it’s really a testament to the NBA as a league as well and how social they are and how much they really reach out to the fanbase. And with you guys doing your final voting even at the game on the big screen, thats very cool.
Yeah. The NBA is very progressive with all things digital and I think that helps as far as supporting what we do on our end and giving us ideas and full support and it’s good to be affiliated with such a powerful digital presence.
No doubt. So are there any kinds of stats that you guys can share on this? In the end how many photos did you end up having uploaded to this contest?
We probably received over 100 photos, of which we put the best ones up and then we narrowed it down. I dont have the exact number but I would say it’s over 100. And it was only a two or three week span so it was great.
So obviously great on the fan engagement side of things. How did it impact the voting of your players for the All-Star Game?
Well I can say that Monta Ellis received the most votes from our team. He finished 7th among West guards, last year he finished 9th. I dont know if we can take full credit for that improvement, he’s played pretty well so he probably deserves a lot of that credit as well, but I’ll go ahead and take some of the credit I guess.
Yeah we’ll give you some of that credit for sure.
Thats a great one, I really love this example because it’s a great example of how you can build contesting around an event. Really engage the fanbase and have it impact of the results too.
Yeah and the other interesting thing to see was not only people submitting the photos but the conversations that happened around the photos. Some people might not feel comfortable doing a whole photo or planning as much as this but they definitely enjoyed the photos and there was a lot of conversation happening around it which, in turn, helped our cause of gaining notice for our players on the ballot.
Right. So that was the whole purpose in creating your own unique hashtag then right?
So you guys could track that and obviously have the fans spread the word. So even if they’re not sending in photos you’re at least getting the word out that you have these kinds of engaging campaigns going on.
Alright, so lets move on to the next one.
This one is actually on February 15, the Warriors Tweetup. Maybe give us a little bit of information on what this is all about.
Yeah. Several other teams have done this and this is the first time we’re doing stand we’re really excited about it, especially since we have Stephen Curry involved. He’s obviously one of our best players and he’s very active on Twitter and he fully gets it. He really understands social media and he utilizes it in a lot of great ways and this is another way. He jumped at the chance to be involved with us.
So what happens is were encouraging fans to buy tickets to the game and when they buy through this Tweetup offer they get to come to a post-game Q&A with Steph. They also get, which I think is really cool, this t-shirt which looks like our Warriors logo but it’s actually our Twitter handle (@Warriors) and on the bottom is the hashtag we use on game day (#letsgowarriors). You got the Twitter bird kind of in there. And then on the back instead of just saying “Curry” with his number, its his Twitter handle (@StephenCurry30). So we like that, Steph, when he saw it he loved it too so when he saw it he wanted a bunch for himself.
So it’s kind of cool to get our own handle out there, a unique type of shirt just for these people coming to the game and it’s a way for Steph to have his handle out there too and fully embrace the Twitter world.
Yeah. As you mentioned we’ve seen the rise of the Tweetups over the last couple of years across all of the major professional leagues but they just seemto be getting more and more creative every time I come across them. Obviously involving the players is a big one because your fanbase is obviously a fan on the team but they really connect to these players dont they. It’s a unique experience that they never forget.
Yeah and that’s why it’s great to have Steph buy in.He’s as excited about it as we are; he’s sent several tweets telling fans they should come using the hashtag, were telling people to use the hashtag “gswtweetup” to submit questions for Steph that we’ll actually ask that night.
We’ll also be giving away prizes during the game for people who do use the hashtag and we’ll have a conversation with those people throughout the game so it’s going to be cool.
Very cool. Another question around this Kevin; have you guys looked into ways that you might monetize your use of social media? Specifically around Twitter because we’re talking about that right now. Ways to integrate sponsors at all? Have you guys considered that?
Yeah. Something like the Tweetup, where it’s actually a ticket purchased and it’s heavily promoted on Twitter, that’s one we’ve monetized.
And as far as sponsors, yeah. The NBA actually had some rules for a while that kind of limited what we were able to do but that’s only because they needed to fully understand themselves and decide what was going to be allowed and what wasn’t. Those rules allow us to do some more things with those sponsors and thats kind of one of the next great frontiers; involving sponsors fully into what were doing in the social landscape and then, in turn, them involving us in what they do.
So again the concept is spreading everything socially and working together.
Right. And I think you’re bringing up a good point on the monetizing side of it. It’s really integrating everything into more than just Twitter. Its a live event, it’s a ticket sale, it’s all these different things that help contribute to the bottom line for the team but also provide added value for a potential sponsor.
From my perspective anyway that seems like an obvious opportunity and it sounds like you’re thinking the same thing.
Alright. So let’s talk about Facebook now.So we were discussing this briefly before we got on the call and I asked you to hold off on telling me because I was interested in hearing about this and I wanted to hear it fresh.
You mentioned you guys were using Facebook and a Facebook page as well as check-ins to do some really cool stuff. I’ve got the “Golden State Warriors Home Game” Facebook page up here right now. Tell us what this is all about.
Yeah. So we have our regular Facebook page, which we do a lot with obviously but as far as a game experience we have set up Golden State Warriors Home Game which is the place where, during a home game, we encourage fans to check-in whenever they’re at the game. That’s something every team is doing right now and some teams are using four square, all the different check-in tools that are out there. We’ve pretty much remained in putting a lot of muscle behind Facebook. That’s what we’ve pushed from the beginning, that’s what we’re encouraging our fans to do and that’s where we see a lot of power in what we’re doing.
So what we do is at every single game we have a new check-in deal, which is something Facebook offers. So anytime someone checks into the game it will say “click here to claim tonight’s special deal” and it’s anything from a postgame player Q&A to shooting free throws on the court after the game. We actually even had a photo with Jerry West one night. That was only for the first 25 but, really amazing unique experiences for fans that again goes into that added value column and it conditions our fans. Every time they come to a game they’re going to check-in to see what the deal is.
We’ve actually seen a lot of success; we’ve been number one or number two in check-ins across the league. We’re battling it out with the Lakers right now trying to get that number one spot. But we’ve seen a lot of success with it and a lot of fans love it and we’re going to definitely keep doing it.
Wow, that’s cool. I’m just flipping through some of the tabs on here as well and you’ve got a deals tab here as well. With unique t-shirts and bobble heads that people can claim. Is that around the same lines?
Yeah those are all of our past deals that we’ve run during games. We had a free bobble head the other night, we’ve had postgame free throws, Q&As with players, photos with the Warrior Girls, special gifts from Jack In The Box so that’s another way we’ve integrated sponsors into this and so that’s another way we’ve been able to monetize it. It’s been really successful and something we would recommend for any team.
Excellent. Well these are all great examples of how sports teams nowadays can be proactively using both Twitter and Facebook. I’m very impressed with what you guys are doing. The wild west, as we say in the social media world, I’m sure theres a million more things that will come in the next coming months but Kevin it sounds like you’ve got your finger on the pulse as it relates to social media stuff and I look forward to what you guys have coming up here in the future.
Thanks, I appreciate it.
Alright. Thanks very much for doing this Kevin.
No problem. Thanks for having me.
Have you come across any other creative Twitter Campaigns done by professional teams? Leave us your comments below or tweet us!