The Social Media Impact
Yes, the WNBA Championship is certainly how 2012 will be remembered within the Indiana Fever franchise. It was a culmination of efforts from players, coaches, staff and fans that extended many years prior to 2012.
The Fever’s championship was a milestone to be shared … from Kelly Krauskopf and Lin Dunn, to the staff members in the sales and corporate partnerships divisions, to the dedicated fans of the franchise and to the City of Indianapolis, itself. So many people shared in the Fever’s title run. And it was captured so well and with such enthusiasm by local media who jumped on the local frenzy. The local media during the conference finals and WNBA Finals even helped drive the frenzy.
And, for the first time in our modern society, so did social media.
I’ll even acknowledge that one of the reasons this blog was largely out of existence through most of the 2012 season was because I’d taken a specific interest in Twitter, and had begun to see the impact of Twitter and other social media. [That is hard to believe, considering I'd fought the move for more than a year or two!] I found that so many topics I would ordinarily have written about, I’d been able to tweet in 140 characters or less. And given our high volume of website traffic during the season, my messages were already being delivered through feature stories, player Q&As, game stories and tweets and re-tweets from @kmess65 and @indianafever and so many other team and player-related twitter accounts.
So, while I stopped blogging, the messages continued to circulate — and in broader circulation than ever before.
Here is one example, comparing the Fever’s run to the Finals in 2009 with its run to the title last fall.
In 2009, balcony seats for the Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 were purchased by Larry Bird, for distribution to fans at 10:00 a.m. the following morning. The Fever franchise had less than 24 hours between a Game 2 victory and the eventual Game 3. The WNBA had scheduled those games on back-to-back days. We had no choice but to solicit some assistance and we were fortunate that Larry Bird stepped in to assist. With the help of every media person we could find to assist us during the one evening we had to promote, we contacted every outlet and tried to get our message onto every show imaginable. Those tickets were all distributed within a couple of hours by walk-up patrons at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse Box Office.
Now, fast forward to 2012. We had roughly a week to sell tickets to Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, after being in Minneapolis for six days after earning a trip to the finals series. We had just two days to sell tickets, though, between Games 3 and 4, both at The Fieldhouse. This time, on the morning after a Game 3 victory, the Fever staff was the beneficiary of several thousand tickets purchased by Indianapolis Colts players, which also would become available for fans. This time, though, with the message first being disseminated via Twitter and other social media avenues, those tickets were largely collected online or over the phone even before a planned distribution at noon at the box office. Demand was so quick and the message distributed so immediately that we chose not to send the news release soliciting media’s help in getting word out. The tickets were gone so quickly that our staff scrambled to fill the incoming requests. Good problem to have, right?
So, by the power of social media and Twitter in particular, the Fever’s 2012 trip to the WNBA Finals was much more widely received and promoted than its previous trip in 2009. The 2012 championship season will be remembered far greater than the 2009 team because of its title, and rightly so. As our society has changed, it is quite possible to suggest that the Fever’s 2012 title was the WNBA’s first in the new generation of social media. Messages and details of the Fever championship certainly were circulated more widely than during the 2009 WNBA Finals which still may be the best overall series in league history.
Evidence? The hashtag initiated by the Indiana Fever marketing staff (credit to Matt Cooper, Celeste Ballou and Tamba Samba), #FeverFinals, was regularly trending in the United States during that week of the Finals. It was an organized message that drew larger results than any previous social message in Pacers Sports & Entertainment’s history — including the Indiana Pacers’ series against the Miami Heat the previous spring.
The moral of this social media message as it relates to the Fever? I have blamed Twitter for disrupting my blogging regularity last season, but I also have learned better how to use it, too. My New Year’s resolution for 2013 will be to better blend the two mediums, including a Fever Pic of the Day that I launched on Twitter just this week.
I hope you’ll follow me and any of the other great Fever Twitter accounts. I am not on Facebook, but the IndianaFever page is very active and many players use Facebook, themselves. Get in the social media game and join us for more fun in 2013!
Indiana Fever – @IndianaFever; Fever Community Relations – @FeverCares; Lin Dunn – @Coach_Dunn; Stephanie White – @SWhitej2; Tamika Catchings – @Catchin24; Karima Christmas – @RimaC13; Jessica Davenport – @jessdav50; Sasha Goodlett – @ssg45; Briann January – @BriannJanuary; Erlana Larkins – @therealUNC2; Erin Phillips – @ErinPhillips13; Tammy Sutton-Brown – @tksb15; Shavonte Zellous – @SZellous1; Chris Denari – @ChrisDenari; Kevin Messenger – @kmess65.
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