Here’s What The 76ers Twitter Scandal Can Teach Your Business

Here’s What The 76ers Twitter Scandal Can Teach Your Business

Here’s What The 76ers Twitter Scandal Can Teach Your Business

  By Justin Biel, trends editor at Grow Wire

In short:

  • A major NBA exec is under investigation in relation to several "burner" Twitter accounts which criticized his team's own players.
  • The scandal proves that while Twitter is necessary to run a modern business, it’s also potentially damaging.
  • Take cues from companies in Grow Wire’s “Twitter Hall of Fame” to use Twitter responsibly in your own business.

Basketball fans know the biggest news in the NBA this week is an article on The Ringer which connects Bryan Colangelo, president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, to a number of “burner” Twitter accounts that criticized his team’s own players.

The blockbuster article identifies five interconnected Twitter accounts that, for years, have criticized Sixers players’ performance, dissed Sixers coaching staff and disclosed medical information about players. Based on evidence from an anonymous tipster, The Ringer suggests the accounts are run by Colangelo himself, while further probing suggests Colangelo’s wife may be involved. Colangelo is under official investigation with the Sixers organization.

His drama speaks to the volatility of including Twitter in a business plan, especially a sports team’s. The Colangelo story can teach every business exec a thing or two about using Twitter responsibly.

A brief history of Twitter and the NBA

This isn’t the first time NBA players or coaches have made news for their social media activities. The NBA has the most active Twitter presence of all major sports leagues. They were even the first pro sports league to promote Twitter on an official game ball.

Stephen Curry poses a photo during Golden State Warriors Media Day in 2016.

More than most other cases, Colangelo’s story highlights the chaotically interconnected world of business, tech, media and sports. Let’s show just how intertwined these industries can get by breaking down this week’s “burner account” story:

Twitter: A necessary evil (but not if you use it wisely)

Yes, basketball is a game, but it’s also a business. And like most other consumer-facing brands, the NBA has established a Twitter presence in order to survive. No matter what industry you’re in, it’s likely your business needs Twitter too.

But for any business, trying to control the Twitter-sphere is like bull riding: you can hold on for a few seconds (if you’re lucky), but you always seem to lose your grip. Our ability to tweet moves faster than our ability to verify information. Plus, the anonymity of social media and lack of standards in account creation makes it hard to identify who's running which accounts.

Companies like US Airways and Chrysler are among many to get rocked by Twitter scandals in recent years.

And yet, having a business Twitter -- one that customers can access and interact with -- is usually necessary. 

The NBA knows this full well: Instead of placing barriers on its copyright, for example, the NBA allows usage of its logo and intellectual property on social media. This stance has encouraged a ton of online banter, which keeps NBA fans highly engaged. As a corporate entity separate from Colangelo, the NBA has done an overall swell job of using Twitter to boost its brand.

Companies who belong in the Twitter Hall of Fame

Here are a three other companies who use Twitter wisely to amp up their brand without getting embroiled in social media scandal.

1. Subway -- Who cares what a sandwich company has to say on Twitter? Lots of folks, apparently: Subway has nearly 2.5 million followers. With a fun and friendly tone, Subway drives customer engagement with its humorous tweets.

2. Real Madrid FC -- Spain’s Real Madrid Football Club is one of the most followed sports teams on Twitter with over 30 million followers. The franchise focuses on inspiring tweets that celebrate the club's many achievements, thus inspiring and engaging its fans. 

3. Moda Operandi -- This fashion retailer sells hot-off-the-runway looks to customers around the world. By highlighting designers in their Twitter feed, Moda Operandi is able to influence the fashion landscape and drive sales.

The lesson here: Whatever you’re selling -- sandwiches, sports, style, or something else -- there’s a place for your message on Twitter. Get in the game, but get in wisely.

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