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Friday, August 14, 2009

Story of the Week: Tampa Uses Twitter to Break News

At 2:44 PM on Thursday, August 13, the Tampa Bay Lightning took a huge step forward on how NHL teams will be measured on how they use Twitter.

The Lightning’s Twitter team posted (AKA Tweeted) this message: “The Lightning are making a trade today. They'll be getting a player and a draft pick in return. More to come....”

It wasn’t from an anonymous hockey blogger, a fan or even one of their beat writers. It came directly from the team. Instantly, everyone who was flowing them on Twitter knew that Tampa was making a trade. And instantly, followers wanted more info. No doubt, page hits dramatically increased for Tampa’s website.

At 3:31 PM that same day, the Lightning finally broke the news of their trade with this Tweet: “The Lightning have acquired LW Drew Miller and a 3rd rd pick in 2010 from Anaheim in exchange for Evgeny Artyukhin.”

Not the biggest trade in the hockey world. In fact, the impact of his trade might be felt more off the ice and then on it by the way the message was delivered.

At this point, I believe 29 of the 30 NHL teams use Twitter. Until yesterday, the 29 teams used Twitter mostly to deliver promotional/marketing news and website updates. Some teams used Twitter to update their draft board at the draft, but that news was also available on countless other websites and Twitter accounts.

The Lightning not only broke the news of the trade, they teased it to everyone.

It was an excellent way for Tampa to drum up interest in a trade that would hardly make headlines in the middle August. It also increased websites hits and the amount of followers they have on Twitter.

Today, people are talking about the Tampa Bay Lightning acquiring Drew Miller and a 3rd round draft pick not because Drew Miller is the next Wayne Gretzky, but because Drew Miller will become the answer to a trivia question on a potential historic moment for the NHL and Twitter.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sad to See AFL Go

AFL spokesman: Demise appears 'inevitable'

I got my start in the sports industry with the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League. I saw it as a way to work my way up to a position with the Islanders and for me it worked. Along my journey with the AFL, I made many friends and memories along with way.

The AFL had something good going, but in my estimation their failure was their own fault.

The NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA took decades to grow into the national and continent-wide powerhouses they are now. The AFL wanted to do that in 20 years. They wanted to rush their growth and the league thought of themselves as equals to the big-four North American leagues.

It seemed that when Kurt Warner jumped from the AFL to NFL Super Bowl MVP that the Arena League gained respect. At that moment, the League and its football operations department started to think of themselves as equals to the giant of the National Football League. And from that moment they began to throw away their milk before it spoiled.

Instead of continuing to embrace their small-market success, they jumped ahead of the curve to try to find big-market success. Along the way they gained some notoriety, but in the end bite off more then they could chew. They forgot about what they had in exchange for trying to find something more popular.

The moral of the AFL’s story is that growth takes times. The NFL did not become the NFL overnight and the fall downward comes a lot faster then the climb.

The NHL can learn from the AFL’s failure. There is still plenty of growth ahead for the NHL and they mustn’t rush it. Let success happen and if it takes time, so be it. Rushing to success often leads to failure in the end.

And while we think of the AFL’s demise, ask the Arena League how ESPN helped them? Even ESPN doesn’t bring automatic success.