#HockeyTwitter is…a new marketing campaign that the social media giant has launched to engage more hockey fans, or as SportsNet and Hockey Night in Canada reporter Christine Simpson put it in a promo video, “#HockeyTwitter is one big dysfunctional family of hockey fans.”

The new content series is an initiative that was started by Twitter Canada, “to encourage people to continue to be a part of a [Twitter] community and to get people who may not know about the community to participate,” said Laura Pearce, head of consumer marketing at Twitter Canada and lead for this project.

#HockeyTwitter is a Twitter Canada led marketing strategy and Pearce spoke to ITBusiness.ca about how the Canadian team developed and led the project and why the social media platform thinks it’s important to create more formal communities on its platform.

The #HockeyTwitter strategy

Hockey pretty much being a Canadian pastime, it’s almost no surprise that it was the Twitter Canada team that decided to take the lead to help build a more formal content experience around the Twitter hockey community.

At the end of November Twitter officially announced its new initiative, showing off the #HockeyTwitter’s very own emoji.

https://twitter.com/TwitterSports/status/1065998412221308928

Hockey on Twitter is nothing new, fans have been using the social media site to follow, get updates or react to games, and interact with other fans or even players, pretty much since Twitter was created. It is one of the top social media platforms for sports-related content in general.

Pearce says that creating the Hockey Twitter hashtag is essentially a way to formalize the communities and make it easier for people to find all their hockey content in one place and have people become more involved in the community as well.

“Hockey is a number one interest segment for Canadians,” she said, noting that Twitter Canada data has proven that (unsurprisingly) hockey is of greater interest in Canada than in the U.S. “We wanted to bring together this community of hockey lovers and recognize them and share what [hockey on Twitter] is all about.”

Twitter appears to be investing more resources into the 2018/2019 National Hockey League (NHL) season. This new initiative comes on the heels of Twitter’s newly launched video series #IceSurfing, the social media-based weekly live show (in collaboration with Rogers Media Inc.’s Sportsnet), that gives real-time NHL game highlights, analysis and interactions between the audience and hosts.

“Part of the reason we called the initiative #HockeyTwitter though,” explains Pearce, “is that we wanted to bring all hockey together, not just the NHL, but women’s hockey, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), American Hockey League (AHL) and more.”

Building fun and healthy Twitter communities

Hockey isn’t the only community that Twitter is looking to develop. Pearce told ITBusiness.ca that it is looking across other interest groups and communities. In the realm of entertainment, she said Twitter has partnered with musicians to launch communities, for example, it is looking into creating a community around female voices.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is also an area of focus for the social media giant. At the beginning of the 2018/2019 NBA season, a Twitter blog post encouraged basketball fans to get involved with the online conversation. “No matter where allegiances lie, all NBA fans can count on Twitter for nonstop basketball conversation and content,” TJ Adeshola, head of U.S. sports partnerships for Twitter stated in the blog. It offered up the best accounts and hashtags to follow for content, like @NBA, and #NBATwitter (which also has its own emoji) and offered a list of each team’s Twitter handle and hashtag.

Pearce explains that creating these types of partnerships and marketing campaigns goes back to Twitter’s strategy around serving the public conversation, “[at Twitter] we think we do that very well, around certain topics, and we want to help people to find and have great experiences on Twitter. We want to remind people why Twitter is relevant, and make it an unmissable experience.”

Like other social media sites, 2018 brought concerns around hate speech and the spread of false accounts and information for Twitter. It faced the U.S. Congress over concerns around disinformation campaigns and deleted hundreds of accounts from Iran and Russia that were found to have manipulated content.

Developing communities, like #HockeyTwitter is “about driving conversation and awareness that Twitter is a great, healthy and fun community, it’s for those already involved, and a way for those who just haven’t tapped into it yet to get involved.” said Pearce.

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