An exclusive interview with the author of the Hawks’ Twitter account

The Atlanta Hawks have the most talked-about Twitter account in professional sports over the last few months. Winning has been part of the reason, but people have fallen in love with the Hawks’ tweets because they’re as witty and hilarious as you’ll find on anywhere on Twitter right now.

Take, for example, the latest back-and-forth between the Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves before and after Monday night’s game between the two squads. The Hawks’ account issued an incredible note to the fans, via Spotify playlist, after the team’s record-long 19-game winning streak ended last week. Then, the Timberwolves created a copycat playlist, to which the Hawks had a perfect response after the win.

It’s all in good fun, which is why people seem to love the Hawks’ tweets so much.

I tracked down the Social Media Coordinator for the Hawks, Jaryd Wilson, to ask him a few questions about the success he’s had during his run as the Sultan of Social Media.

How long have you been running the Hawks’ social media account, and was this your first job out of college?

I’ve been the Social Media Coordinator since December of 2012. I majored in Journalism at the University of Missouri in 2010, so my first job out of college was actually a Web Editor position at the FOX TV affiliate in Colorado Springs. I’ve always wanted to work in sports, but with my college background and education, it was easier to get my start in news. After I built up what I thought was a good enough skill set and resume, I decided to make the change.

Are you the lone voice on the account, or is it a team effort?

Definitely a team effort. I can’t tell you how many different people here have contributed ideas at one point or another. If it was just me, our social voice wouldn’t be nearly as good.

Sometimes, Twitter accounts don’t have a smooth transition from straight-laced to witty. Were you met by some pushback from the higher-ups when you started to take a lighter approach with the tweets?

The approach that we’ve always wanted to take is that we want to have fun, but we want to do it in a way that reflects the values our brand and organization represents. Much like our approach to content, the approach to voice is a collaborative one. Our tactics are based on a strategy that we’ve developed using representatives from a number of departments throughout the organization. We even have an internal document that helps guide us to make sure that everything we do is helping to achieve our goals while also following the guidelines we’ve established for ourselves.

Tell me about how the idea started to add a “W” to the account’s name after every win.

I actually can’t take credit for that one. It was my boss’s idea. Again, a number of people contribute. We saw an opportunity to do something innovative and ran with it. The fact that it coincided with a 19-game winning streak was icing on the cake. But that’s an example of the type of stuff we can create when we put our collective minds to it.

You’ve had some awesome exchanges with other NBA teams’ Twitter pages. Do you know their managers personally? Have they reached out to you for tips on running a social media campaign?

I’ve personally met about a third of my counterparts. Most of the rest I have a relationship with via social media and email. Over the past year or so, the social media representatives with all of the teams have really started building good relationships and collaborating more. It’s been really cool to see. Fans obviously love it. They don’t really reach out for tips, but they tip their hats and congratulate us when we do something creative. We do the same for them. I send an email or a DM [direct message] to a counterpart almost every day to congratulate him or her on a social media “win.”

The Hawks’ Twitter account has added 60,000 followers since the team had its turnaround at the end of November. Did you feel an added pressure once the account – and the team’s winning streak – started growing out of control?

I don’t think pressure is the right word, but yes, I did notice more eyeballs on us. My attitude was more of, “let’s enjoy this and have fun with it while it lasts.” Nothing brings about attention like winning, and obviously the players and coaches deserve the credit for that. I think we’ve done some good things to capitalize on the added attention our social channels are getting.

Any tricks up your sleeve for the playoffs?

You’ll have to wait and see.

If someone was handed the keys to a major brand’s social media account, what’s the best piece of advice you can give them?

Be authentic and engaging. Social Media is supposed to be fun, and as long as your voice is consistent with your organization’s values and overall strategy, there’s no harm in having fun with it.

Follow the Hawks on Twitter, and be sure to follow Jaryd as well.

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