This is the story of a little blue bird who once told the world two words: Follow me! And that’s how it all started. A social network of discussions in 140 characters or less was born, taking cyber space by storm.
PENTICTON, BC. — The NHL and most of its teams didn’t take long to realize how amazing and powerful of a marketing tool this little blue bird could be. After all, is there really a better way for them to share a message to their targeted fan base all at once, simply by having someone type a few words, sometimes linking to a full story? Most importantly, the teams have control not only of the content, but also the timing of such messages, not having to rely on mainstream media!
Hockey fans created their own Twitter account to better follow members of the media and their favourite team(s). Rumour sites and pipe dreams sellers love this tool which allows them to try to beat traditional media to the punch, in what they feel is a race to gain credibility and fame. The print media uses it to promote its latest publications on their web site. Radio personalities are using Twitter to ask their followers specific questions which they address on air. And last but not least, bloggers from around the word now all have the feeling of becoming professional reporters by promoting on Twitter their own blog.
The number of people following each other is simply amazing. In the mainstream media world, Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger of TSN are the Batman and Robin of hockey twitters. McKenzie has a herd of over 400,000 followers while Dreger is second, closing in on 320,000 followers. They are known across the NHL as the real Insiders, the once people can rely on. In third place and far behind, we find Pierre LeBrun of ESPN and TSN, with just over 160,700 strong. And because of their success, they are regular targets for fake accounts created by desperate people in search of attention, especially at the trade deadline or at the opening of free agency. On that note, the best tip is to look at their number of followers before re-tweeting or believing what those pretenders spew.
In the NHL Blogosphere or the new media, All Habs Hockey Magazine (@All_Habs) is dominant. Only rumour blogger Eklund has more followers as rumours bring sensation, create dreams for desperate fans wanting changes to their teams. All Habs, through its quality content, its dedication to informing readers, its social networking and its great team, has racked up over 54,300 followers and counting, many of which being well known hockey personalities! Please make sure to follow the complete list of All Habs team members on Twitter.
The players also understand the power of Twitter as more and more of them are choosing to share their thoughts through this social media. This past July, Colby Armstrong announced himself that he had signed with the Canadiens and Marie-Pier Morin, Brandon Prust’s girlfriend, did the same on her Twitter account. Alex Ovechkin leads all players with over 440,000 followers. Guess who is second… Malkin, Kane, Hall, Giroux, Stamkos? Nope! It’s none other than Coyotes’ tough guy Paul Bissonnette with over 300,000 followers! This is BizNasty’s second kick at Twitter as the often controversial Tweeter’s first account was erased. In third place amongst NHL players with just over 219,000 followers is Pittsburgh Penguins’ star Evgeni Malkin.
The NHL certainly understands the power of social networking. Its official Twitter account has more than 1.3 million followers from around the world, ranging from casual fans to professional media, and players to former players. Even league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan is on Twitter, closing in on 181,000 followers. When looking around the NHL though, one can easily notice that some teams have had more success in promoting the product than others. Is this due to the market place and the number of fans those teams have, or is it that some teams don’t understand the impact it has on the popularity and accessibility this marketing tool has on their fans?
As Twitter users know too well, Twitter followers are volatile. You gain some and you lose some on a daily basis, so the numbers compiled below are a picture at the time of writing this article, and could be different tomorrow, in a month, or in a year from now.
The Montreal Canadiens have, by far, the most followers, closing in on 310,000 people reading their tweets and that, in both official languages. Taking advantage of a few consecutive very good seasons on the ice, the Vancouver Canucks and the Pittsburgh Penguins round up the NHL’s Top 3. Vancouver trails Montreal by 16,000 followers while the Pens sit in third place. The New York Islanders are last amongst NHL teams with just over 49,000 followers.
NHL teams struggling the most at the gate (with the possible exception of the New Jersey Devils) seem to all be in the bottom of the Twitter followers and perhaps a little marketing is needed in order to better connect with their fans or potential fans through this easy, yet efficient tool of social interaction.
For those of you interested, there are seven current Canadiens’ players on Twitter. They are:
- P.K. Subban: 160,442 followers
- Colby Armstrong: 123,144 followers
- Brandon Prust: 93,243 followers
- Max Pacioretty: 86,113 followers
- Brian Gionta: 60,186 followers
- Carey Price: 42,314 followers
- Yannick Weber: 35,163 followers
Rene Bourque was also on Twitter but it looks like he deleted his account after it was hacked.
Thank you for reading and happy Tweeting!
You can follow me at @Habsterix