Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re happy to highlight Jim Kneer, New Media Specialist for the NBA Champion Miami HEAT basketball team. Coming off a terrific championship season and an Olympic gold medal for Team USA player and Miami HEAT forward Lebron James, we thought it would be a great time to get Jim’s views on Twitter measurement.
TweetReach: Welcome Jim! Can you describe your role in the HEAT organization? How have you used social media, specifically Twitter, as a part of your social media strategy for the team?
Jim Kneer: Our New Media team is the eyes and ears of HEAT fans around the globe. Our job is to connect with as many HEAT fans as we can. We create relationships with our younger fans that will evolve into a strong brand loyalty. We view Twitter as the first true means of establishing two-way communication with our fans.
Our franchise is just entering our 25th season, so we are a relatively young franchise. We are just starting to see our first generation of life-long HEAT fans reach fiscal maturity. It is our goal to take advantage of the amazing team we have to build our fan base and social media, and Twitter specifically, allows us to reach out and communicate with fans.
We use Twitter to provide real-time coverage of all HEAT related news and events. Our New Media team covers all HEAT practices, games and provides behind-the-scenes coverage of HEAT related events.
TweetReach: How important is measurement of engagement on Twitter to your strategy? Do you have specific goals and campaign metrics that you use to measure performance and success?
Jim Kneer: Measurement of social media engagement is key for us. While we may not have specific goals for each initiative we undertake, engagement metrics play a key role in our future initiatives. We like to look at the performance of our tweets and use that data to tailor our coverage to the areas we get the most engagement. We always want to deliver the content our fans want the most.
We also like to use this data to determine time of posting. We want our posts to generate a lot of replies and we try to provide as many answers as time and scheduling allow. Conversely, pictures and posts that will generate a lot of re-tweets are often made during our “off hours” since less attention is required.
TweetReach: Has your social media measurement strategy changed as you’ve gone from the regular season, to the playoffs, to the champion series, to the off-season?
Jim Kneer: During the season, we utilize a lot of the measurements to build our strategy. Each regular season, we find a different tweeting “sweet spot.” Some years we see more interactions of pictures, some years it may be statistical information that gets the best response. Our job during the regular season is to perfect our strategy. Socially, we do not want to be become a nuisance.
I come from an email marketing background. Email marketing has always been referred to as “permission-based marketing.” Moving over to social media, I always treat it as “privilege-based marketing.” We have been lucky to earn a spot in our fans’ timelines and newsfeeds. We treat this as a privilege. We try to avoid straight sales pitches, instead offering exclusive first looks or first opportunities to buy. This gives our sales pitches a more exclusive, offer-based characteristic.
Once we hit the post-season, we intensify our social media efforts. We know that our fans’ appetite for information increases and we begin traveling to away games to help provide coverage to which they may not otherwise have access. This coverage increases each round, as fans want more and more information. During the 2012 NBA Finals, we sent two staff members to Oklahoma City to cover everything, and we were rewarded with a really comprehensive behind the scenes look at the team during our title run.
Our off-season strategy is to provide relevant content when it occurs, but more so to focus on increasing our interactions with fans. We try to reply to as many relevant mentions as we can, while also increasing the amount of interactive tweets we send out.
TweetReach: What’s your opinion on the “second-screen experience” during televised games? Have you seen more consumers actively engaging via Twitter during games and how do you make the most of that for the team?
Jim Kneer: During the regular season, we work very closely with our broadcast partner, Sun Sports/Fox Sports Florida. Last off-season, we had a series of social-broadcast meetings and were able to develop a very interactive broadcast. We developed a Facebook Friday component to help draw viewers to our broadcasts, especially when our local broadcast is up against a national broadcast of the game.
We also got our broadcasters Eric Reid and Tony Fiorentino on Twitter and they were able to interact with fans and answer some questions live during all broadcasts. Additionally, we created a dedicated hashtag to track all comments.
Fans were also actively engaged in twitter polls for the pregame spotlights as well as the poll question for games. We wanted to create a very social feel for our broadcasts and are very happy where they stand after our first season.
TweetReach: Can you describe one of your more successful social media efforts? Were there specific measurement goals you wanted to achieve and how did the campaign perform? Any lessons learned you can share with our audience?
Jim Kneer: I think one of our most successful efforts this year was the unveiling of our new “Black is Back” uniform. We knew this would generate buzz, but the scope of the appeal was amazing. We were able to reach over 4.5 million unique accounts and generate almost 17 million impressions.
We also made a big social media push for the release of our Miami Floridians throwback jersey. This effort reached over 5.8 million unique people and total impressions reached 13 million.
I think the most important thing we took from these campaigns was that we needed to be ready and able to take advantage of these situations the moment they arise. Once we noticed the feedback, the posts, and tweets we were receiving, we really ramped up our efforts. We learned that by monitoring early reaction to a post you can really ride the positive public sentiment and stay ahead of the curve.
TweetReach: Thanks, Jim!