There is an old saying out there that states, "when it rains, it pours". This phrase is usually associated with the notion that when something goes wrong, everything will go wrong. Many will believe that this specific idiom can easily be applied to Columbus Blue Jackets as of late. Not only are they statistically the worst team in the National Hockey League, they recently unloaded one of their unhappy star forwards to the Los Angeles Kings in an uneven trade. The trade did not come as a surprise, since there were plenty of rumors that the club was trying to unload Jeff Carter to another team. What did come as a surprise was that the club was experiencing off ice issues as well - particularly in the new media department.
Less than 24 hours after the Carter trade, those who followed the official Columbus Blue Jackets twitter account (@BlueJacketsNHL) began to notice a high amount of activity. The account began to answer an endless stream of questions that were directed towards the team. And while some of the questions were hockey related, others dealt with random subjects from personal questions about the user behind the account to pizza preferences. It became apparent that account was reaching far beyond the call of duty and was creating a mess for the club. The screen shots below will show that the social media coordinator for the organization was openly feeding all the "social media trolls" out there:
Not to be left out, the Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) decided to voice their opinion on the Ales Hemsky contract extension rumors out there. A Kings blog on our network, The Royal Half, caught a glimpse of the tweet before it was deleted from the account.
As someone who has been a ghost tweeter for companies in the past, it was really disappointing to see the social media mess unfold because frankly, Twitter is not very complicated. By definition Twitter is a microblogging service that is primarily used to relay information or opinions out to those interested in hearing that message (ie. followers). In an entertainment setting, it can be argued that Twitter is a customer retention and engagement device. When used properly, it will not create a stir and almost go unnoticed to non-followers. However, when in the wrong hands, it will attract way more negative attention than desired. Last year, I tacked a tongue-in-cheek 101 series for Twitter concerning NHL teams. In the articles, I mapped out how to start, how to tweet during the game, how to engage your followers and free agency for the players. To read the four part series, visit Ice the Office.
The unfortunate thing in all of this is that the actions of two or three people damage the image of the clubs that they work for. A few clicks of the mouse can send a message that will directly affect the front office, the sales team, the arena staff, and the players on the ice. The case studies with the Blue Jackets today (& to a lesser extend the Flames) have given off the impression that the organization, as a whole, does not care about what they do. Columbus could be viewed as a bad team that creates salary dump trades while employing people that don't understand their roles. Does anyone really want to be a Blue Jackets fan? Can we take this organization seriously? It is one thing to have a few laughs out of this mess. But since these businesses are valued around hundreds of millions of dollars, I doubt there are any laughs coming from inside the team.
The league and their hockey organizations really need to evaluate who is behind the keyboard.
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@kylieburness The National Post, Yahoo Sports, and NBC all have applauded yesterday's CBJ tweet fest as entertaining and engaging.
@kylieburness Thanks for the back and forth, by the way. It's always good to get another perspective.
@kylieburness Ok. On this I hope we can respectfully disagree. Twitter to me is supposed to be more personal and less corporate...
@LoriSchmidt not quite sure if this was applauding http://t.co/jn2jInc4
@kylieburness Seems pretty disingenuous to me for that writer to compare a controversial tweet with a tongue in cheek give & take with fans.