Case Study: Tweeting with Colts Owner Jim Irsay

Over the last two days I have become enthralled with the Twitter activity of Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay). He has been using Twitter to reach out to Colts fans with various contests.
This isn’t a recent development as he has done some cash and ticket giveaways over the last few weeks, but he has recently upped the ante, and as someone in the profession of “social”, I can’t look away much to the chagrin of my wife!

Jim Irsay

He has launched three different contests the last few days with a ton of activity and interest from Colts fans:

  1. Free trip to Hawaii during the Pro Bowl, with some spending cash.  He posed a riddle, and awarded the first person to reply to him with the answer with the trip. Went pretty quick.
  2. Free Toyota Prius with $4,000 in the glove compartment.  This will occur tomorrow starting at 1pm before the Colts vs. Titans game, and the winner must be the first to correctly answer a trivia question. You know I’ll be participating!
  3. This is the one that has been the most interesting to me...Inviting 10 fans to join him in his personal suite at Lucias Oil Stadium before tomorrow’s game and also get 2 free tickets to the game, the 10 that can make their case to him via Twitter that they are the Loudest and Proudest Colts fans out there.  (Actually was expanded to 11 late last night).

The response to Irsay has been nothing short of fascinating. Just take a quick look at posts directed to @JimIrsay for a quick taste (still going because at least one if not two of the spots still remain).  Watching it over my New Year’s Eve and New Years (and I must admit participating in some capacity) has been chaotic and a fascinating at the same time. So I wanted to share some observations that may help us learn from how such ideas and attempts at “customer” engagement can be so powerful in the world of Social Media / Social Collaboration / Social Business / Enterprise 2.0, etc.

What Went Well

  1. An emergent community – Irsay’s “Tweet wall” (found by searching for mentions of @JimIrsay) has become a community for Colts fans in and of itself. No lists necessary, no groups. Just follow tweets targeted at Jim and you see a thriving conversation between Colts fans.  I myself shared tweets and direct messages with no less than 10 strangers I have never met but now will probably have as fellow Colts fans to tweet with during and around games!
  2. Fans Helping Fans – A lot of the tweets are people making a case for themselves and not interacting with anyone else, but a surprisingly high number of tweets are fans that realize there are those more needy than themselves or less likely to ever get to a game. So you started to see tweeters building campaigns for strangers to win instead of themselves!
  3. Winners Picking Winners – Jim did something else cool. After he picked winner #1, he assigned that person to watch the tweets on his “tweet wall” and pick a winner (I believe it was @naturallysassy1).  All of a sudden, her “tweet wall” was bombarded with pleas, requests, jokes and new followers. And she picked who she thought was most deserving.
  4. Colts Picking Winners – Next Jim assigned one of his players, punter Pat McAfee (@Pat1McAfee), an active tweeter himself, to identify another winner. He did something that ended up being really neat to watch via Twitter. He enlisted popular teammate and fellow Tweeter Pierre Garcon (Garcon! Garcon!) to make an impromptu trip downtown, asking fans to meet them there. The winner would be the person with the best touchdown celebration dance. I couldn’t make it due to family obligations, but this lucky winner probably had some great moves, and likely was flagged for excessive celebration by any refs in the area!
  5. Having Fun Trying to Win – I didn’t tweet near as much as others, particularly those that won. But I did try some creative things here and there. Like my Blue Blood theme (think True Blood) and Breed Blue submissions.
  6. Talking to Winners – My favorite part were some of my direct interactions with people and for some strange reason, most I ended up “tweeting” and “dm’ing” most often all ended up being selected as winners (although one was not able to accept due to family obligations, but received this incredible tweet from Jim in response)!  What are the chances?  Am I the golden tweeter? I also had an inside track from early winners on what the exact details of the prizes were so I knew what I was playing for.

What Didn’t Go Over Well, In My Opinion

  1. Imposters! – Someone using @JimLrsay (with a little “L” to confuse users) actually caused some confusion and through some inappropriate tweeting actually caused some issues, one very noticeable violation of respect that probably was very emotional for one person. And the account was so difficult to visually detect, I had fear personally some of the tweets could damage Mr. Irsay’s reputation from only partially aware Tweet watchers. He even garnered responses from heavy Twitter media types like Peter King (SI), Bob Glauber (NewsDay), Micheal Smith (ESPN) and Bob Kravitz (IndyStar). But what was amazing, was as soon as people started to pick up on the stunt, it didn’t take long for everyone to “save the community” by raising awareness and calling out the ONE BAD SEED out of hundreds involved to keep a good thing going. Too often risk-averse people would have reacted but shutting the whole thing down, but the REAL Jim Irsay attacked it head on and didn’t let it interrupt his fun with the fans. He magically turned it to his advantage in the eyes of the fans.
  2. Mystery winners – A few selection seemed to come out of left field as this was presented as a Twitter contest, and all of the early winners were very active in Twitter. But one or two selections went to folks that had mysteriously little interaction up to that point. So it zapped the motivation of some participating. Not a horrible thing, but when looking at this from a fan engagement perspective, definitely want to play by the rules you establish in selecting winners and recognizing participants in your game.

All in all, I hated how addicting this was because I probably watched it too much and neglected some time with my family. But I couldn’t look away. Mostly, I came away with even more admiration and respect for Jim Irsay, and that is saying something because I was already a huge fan of the guy.  Great work Jim! I hope you keep it up, if not at this furious pace you have begun!

There camaraderie element is so powerful, I’ve “met” many of the people that will be down there as winners tomorrow, and a little part of me wants to go down there and meet some of them in person after the last two days of posting back and forth. But I am fully aware of the “stalker-like” nature of a non-winner showing up to “hover” with the winners until they get whisked into Jim’s suite…to meet him…without me…eh hem…I mean..Congrats to them!!!  Guess I’ll just go hang with my carbon friends like I usually do!

The real lesson here, for me, is how an event with some incentives not only motivates people to participate in your activities, but helps build loyalty, community and support that is hard to replicate in other mediums. Kudos to Jim and his Colts staff (assuming he had to have help with this, right?) for being so creative and engaging in a way no other professional sports organization has, as far as I can tell. I only hope I have the creativity to learn from this and apply something similar to the work that I do on a daily basis.  Very inspiring to me.

And finally, I’ll see all of you Colts fans tomorrow on Jim’s “tweet wall” trying to win that car!!!  More fun!

Go Colts!

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4 thoughts on “Case Study: Tweeting with Colts Owner Jim Irsay

  1. Pingback: Colts Weekend with Jim Irsay and Other Fun Tweeps « TheBrycesWrite

  2. Pingback: Tweeting with Jim Irsay: A Suite Experience « TheBrycesWrite

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