Depending on who you ask, Montreal or Toronto and perhaps even New York City may be the centre of the hockey universe. As for the sports' "Twitterverse", all signs point directly to Los Angeles.
While most sports teams use their Twitter accounts for standard purposes such as providing injury updates and links to interviews, the L.A. Kings Twitter account does exactly that - while also pushing the envelope and having a little fun in the process.
"For us it all starts with a philosophy built around engagement," says Mike Altieri, the Kings' VP of Communications
"We feel that all of our digital and social media platforms need to engage our fan base, engage the users to want to interact with us. It's not just going to pump out information. We felt it was important that something as powerful as our Twitter feed needed to have a voice for the organization as opposed just spewing information."
What the Kings have been able to accomplish with Twitter is to make the "voice" of their team sound like a person as opposed to a company. Not only does @LaKings come across like a live body, it sounds like a pretty funny guy or girl that you wouldn't mind bantering with while watching the game.
@LaKings has done a remarkable job of not taking itself too seriously while also providing hard news and updates to fans and media and the formula is paying off. Currently the teams' official Twitter account ranks 10th amongst NHL Teams with 285,290 followers. The latest rankings at CapGeek.com place the Kings 10th in followers amongst NHL teams which puts them in front of the likes of the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. Not too shabby for a team based in what some might characterize as a non-traditional hockey market.
Their second billing so to speak, not only in their own sport, but amongst teams in other major sporting leagues in their hometown (i.e. Lakers, Dodgers, USC Football) is a driving force in how they choose to engage the masses via social media.
"We look at every platform, every opportunity that we are engaging in and we ask ourselves - "how can we be innovative?, how can we set ourselves apart?" - because we are in a market where we have to do that," said Altieri, "It's a very, very competitive market, its a great market, we love being in Los Angeles, we love being the L.A. Kings but at the same time we have to find ways to set ourselves apart."
The differentiating factors that Altieri alludes too are especially evident on game days where the Kings are never afraid to stir the pot by engaging opposition fans via Twitter.
Take a recent road trip to Canada as an example. After beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Dec. 11, in a game which the Kings faced off against their former goaltender Jonathan Bernier, one presumed Leafs fan suggested via Twitter that Bernier was to blame for the loss. @LaKings was quick to retort:
The Twitter account regularly offers immediate reaction to what is transpiring on the ice during game play, often in a tounge-in-cheek manner.
In the aforementioned game, a fight between Joffrey Lupul and Slava Voynov negated a goal by Drew Doughty, it only took @LaKings a few seconds to offer their take on the play.
The Kings digital media team is headed by Senior Director, Aaron LeValley and Manager, Patrick Donahue, who lead a team of approximately 3-5 people based in Los Angeles. During the playoffs, they travel with the team.
"We've got a small team of people (and) we've all met and talked on a very consistent basis on how we want to approach things, understanding that it is a fine line that we are walking," Altieri said. " Everything we approach, we want to approach in an authentic way."
Just how authentic they aim to be was evident when the Kings visited the Montreal Canadiens a day before they played Toronto. Ahead of their first trip to the Bell Centre in three years, the Kings social media team tweeted out a wager to the Canadiens involving something distinctively French-Canadian in origin - you guessed it, Poutine.
Article published in https://ca.sports.yahoo.com on 19 December 2013. Author is Neil Acharya.