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UT NEWS & Updates

Duke Basketball Slam Dunks Twitter

Posted by Team UT on December 8th, 2009   Interactive, Sports Marketing, UnCommon News

It’s hard to call any one person or brand an “expert” in any area of social media at this point because the overall category is still very much at the beginning stages, but if you’re a sports brand and looking for a great example of how to approach a Twitter strategy, look no further than the Duke Men’s Basketball Program.

In our opinion to take full advantage of the Twitter channel, you really need to hit on 8 categories in your strategy:

1. Photos
Photo links help bring your posts to life, and Duke does a great job of including links to shots from games, practices, trips, Crazies, and members of the program family (ranging from players, coaches, alumni, facilities, etc.).

2. Promotions
Duke does a great job of this on two fronts: First they do weekly promos for prizes for anyone on Twitter. Secondly, they do a lot of on-campus promotions that involve their mascot, students, and faculty for a chance to win tickets.

Between October 18th and November 21st we noted that a minimum of 21 posts were related to promotions (sampling below):

Oct – 24th

  • Trivia Question: Name Gerald Henderson’s home town, second-favorite sport, and career-high scoring total in a single Duke game?
  • this week’s trivia coming at 3:15. One question, fastest response wins this:

Nov – 12th

  • This week’s Twitter contest: Between now and 1st game tomorrow, tweet why you’re rooting for Duke this year. 5 winners will get a tee-shirt!

Nov – 17th

  • Suggestion for diehard fans: Find Devil between 1-2 for free tix tonight. Bring sign to game. Win sign contest. Get 2 seats next game too!

*They even asked for promotion ideas from fans on the best way to giveaway two tix to the 2nd toughest ticket in all of sports – home game vs. North Carolina:

Nov – 18th

  • I have 2 tickets to UNC at Duke. 2nd toughest ticket in sports. If I can come up with a worthy contest, I’ll give them away. IDEAS?

3-5. Coaches, Players, Alumni
A must for any sports program using the Twitter channel, Duke does an outstanding job of this on a couple levels: Including them in the conversation with @ messages and replies to their Twitter accounts, integrating them into trivia contests, updating stats from alumni in the pros, providing updates and article links on alumni. The end result is helping to keep an extended family feel through the channel.

Nov – 20th

  • Fastest correct response wins 2 tickets to game tomorrow at 3 PM… What is the “favorite snack in the whole wide world” of @ndotsmitty?

Nov – 25th

  • huddling up and getting ready to seal this one up… happy birthday to Chris Carrawell! A W on his bday!

Nov – 30th

  • @SheldenWilliams Against the Terps you had 19 pts, 11 rebs, 10 blocks! Third Duke triple dub ever, 1st under Coach K
  • Just walked through Cameron. Lights were off. Couldn’t tell from afar who was shooting. Turned out to be the legend @realjaywilliams !!

6-7. Mascot, Students/Campus
Duke does a great job of integrating their mascot into photos, and having him be a part of the on-campus promotions for ticket giveaways. They also do a great job of interacting with students on campus for promotions, and with fans from around the Duke universe online through Twitter:

Dec – 8th

Nov – 20th

  • Just got 8 more tix also great spot facing Crazies… Heading to campus looking for interested Duke employees! Free! Find me!

Nov – 17th

  • If you want tickets to tonight’s game, head to campus between 1-2 & look for Blue Devil. He will be handing out FREE tickets on West campus!

Nov – 16th

8.  Provide an Inside Look at the Program
The final point really hits home for potential recruits, and the way you accomplish this is by making sure you do the first seven points. Thus far the only program in any sport that we’ve seen do this is Duke’s – so we asked the man in charge, Dave Bradley (Recruiting/Communications Coordinator), a couple questions on the Duke strategy with Twitter:

What was Duke Basketball’s original reason for using Twitter?
DB – Some of our broad primary goals with Blue Planet are to humanize the program, promote our players, connect with our fans in a more personal way, and offer a window into what goes on with our program behind the scenes. Twitter helps us do all these things with simple, 140-character messages and obviously it is free and becoming increasingly popular.

How has that reasoning changed now that you’ve been using it for awhile?
DB – I don’t think it has changed a great deal. We were pretty thorough in evaluating Twitter and how it can be used before we signed on. From the beginning, we were sure we wanted to use it for much more than just linking to Duke stories on the web. I would say I have been surprised by all the dialogue it has facilitated between our program and our fans. It has been fun getting to know some “Duke tweeps” out there, sometimes in person with Twitter as the starting point.

Are you finding Twitter has any effect on recruiting?
DB – Twitter is more useful right now in recruiting for coaches to “follow” various recruits because you get a window into their lives and interests. Having that information helps coaches build stronger relationships when they talk or meet in person (and you are allowed to use the direct messaging feature). As of now, more recruits are on Facebook than Twitter so Facebook is probably having more of an impact. Overall, we’re seeing an increasing number of recruits join Twitter and certainly Twitter is changing how recruits communicate.


Extra Points:

Duke Digital Channels Overview
Duke was also at the forefront in using the overall digital marketing channel in 2007 when they launched their official program website – the first college basketball program to do so – and they are again at the forefront of using social media channels to help market their program:

One of ways Duke’s strategy is enhanced is their ability to promote all their channels through their official dedicated program site and also in the official Duke Men’s Basketball Magazine – “Blue Planet” ( sampling from their November issue below):

  • HP includes a Twitter app
  • HP includes a callout to Follow Us On: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, iTunes
  • Blog includes recap posts on Twitter promotions:
  • Blog includes callouts to all their channels.
  • Player’s Lounge includes “Blue Devils Live” which is a TweetMixx Channel (Launching next wk)

Blue Planet Magazine:

  • The BP official website address is printed on every content page.
  • Table of Contents includes a showcase of all the social media channels – Blue Planet Passport.
  • Contentshowcases printed posts from the online blog.
  • 1/4 page ad showcase to: Follow Us on Twitter
  • Back cover includes showcase for Coach K’s new video blog and callout to submit questions for him on Facebook and Twitter.

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