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Michael Phelps Takes Over @Ravens Twitter

Part of the fun with social media is that because everything is still so new, individuals and organizations have the freedom  with how they use it.

That’s exactly what we did last week with the @Ravens official Twitter account.

We held our first-ever Twitter takeover with Olympic great Michael Phelps, a Baltimore native and lifelong Ravens fan. We handed our account over to Phelps for the Ravens-Vikings game on Dec. 8, and allowed our fans to experience the game on social media through his commentary. 


The takeover went as well as we could have hoped, as our account saw 2.6x as many retweets as its daily average, 3.9x as many favorites and 4x as many followers according to Twitter’s internal data that it shared in a blog post.

Typically during gamedays, our Twitter account is run by one of the team’s two staff writers (myself and one other person). We use Twitter to keep our fans informed on the news of the game – scores, big plays, injuries, etc. – and we also try to engage them with unique photos or video highlights.

But we wanted to mix it up a little bit, and that’s how Phelps came into the picture. He’s a Baltimore icon and one of our most visible supporters. He is also active on social media, so we saw this as an opportunity to partner up and ideally benefit both of us.

From the first time we approached him about the idea, he was open to it. He thought it sounded like fun, and he started immediately brainstorming some ideas like hashtags to use. We nailed down a date about three weeks in advance, which gave us the opportunity to promote the fact that he would be running the account for an upcoming game.



On gameday, I set up a laptop with a wireless Internet card in Phelps’ suite. I had Tweetdeck installed on the computer, and I set it up so that he could see @replies to the Ravens and also columns to search any hashtags he created. His #MPtakeover hashtag generated more than 14,800 tweets, and it was quickly trending in cities around the country. He was engaging and creative, and the friends and family members watching the game in his suite often huddled around the laptop watching the reaction come in from his tweets.

Phelps had the benefit of tweeting during the first snow game in Ravens history, and also a game that had arguably the most thrilling finish the NFL had ever seen. There were five touchdowns and five lead changes in the final two minutes, five seconds. It was the first time since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 that there had ever been five touchdowns scored in the final 2:05 of a game.

I watched most of those final two minutes in Phelps’ suite, and rode the emotional roller coaster along with a group of about 25 people in the box. The experience in the suite was thrilling (much different than the press box), and it was great to see his tweets generate such a strong reaction from our fans. One tweet even got a little national attention because it touched on a controversial play from the previous week.

Overall, the whole experiment was a great success and something our fans enjoyed. Phelps also seemed to have fun with it, so it was a win-win for both sides. Now we even have some other local sports stars asking to get in on the action, as Baltimore Orioles All-Star center fielder Adam Jones wants his turn at the controls.

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Category: Baltimore Ravens, New Media Thoughts, NFL, Social Media, Sports Marketing, twitter

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