WNBA Talk: Trying to find success in Tulsa one tweet at a time
Shock trying "Social Saturdays" to draw interest
Editor's note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week, she speaks with Kyle Krajenka, marketing coordinator for the Tulsa Shock, who created the first "Social Saturdays" in the WNBA where players' Twitter handles are placed on warm-up shirts and hashtags are on the court. He's been in his position for a year.
Q: Professional teams have used Tweetups to connect with fans before, but what's the idea behind a Social Saturday?
Kyle Krajenka: The Golden State Warriors did kind of a social package with (Stephen) Curry and they created these really neat shirts with the Golden State logo on the front and his Twitter handle on the back. We had our eyes on that after last season and our players do a really good job of handling social media, so we decided to pick four players we thought would be good and it kind of developed into something really neat. Our first one was May 19, our opener, and we had Temeka Johnson (@Quickdeuce).
Q: And there's a hashtag #GoShock on the BOK Center court?
Krajenka: Yep. If you're watching on LiveAccess, you probably wouldn't be able to see it. We have the website in front of the benches, but on the other sideline of the court we have two "#GoShocks" on both ends facing the scorer's table.
Q: Are you able to track the response? The Los Angeles Sparks still rank first in overall followers with 16,183 while the Shock, which relocated from Detroit, has 4,733.
Krajenka: We actually track our social media growth versus other teams in the league and since we really started really embracing social media back in the middle of October 2011 — choosing the hashtag we wanted everybody to use on Twitter — we're the second team percentage-wise in growth. The Minnesota Lynx are No. 1. That's impressive for us because Tulsa may not be up there as far as you think in technology markets like Chicago, New York and L.A.
Q: Do you find that this type of marketing is important because you don't have your star draft choice in Australian Liz Cambage until after the Olympics?
Krajenka: Even more important than players or record, I think it's important for us to have this just as interaction with our fans. We're on a 10-day road trip right now, but the conversation with our fans and keeping them in the loop is still happening. And it's going to be even more important once we hit that seven-, eight-month offseason. We'll already be connected with them and keep the conversation going. But Liz (@ecambage) does a great job on Twitter, even though she's in Australia, she's been showing a lot of support in using the hashtag on game-days and wishing the team luck.
Q: So, when you're adapting something like this, putting players' handles on the back of T-shirts, is there a discussion about them being conscious about tweets?
Krajenka: Coach (Gary Kloppenburg) did a really good job with the players on how everything becomes public. I think our players know that, in this day and age especially, when you're putting stuff on the digital space — everything is open. But our girls have a great public image. They're good in supporting our cause and it gets them a couple more followers. It's fun.
Q: OK, but on your Twitter page your avatar is you with a thumbs down, what's up with that?
Krajenka: Oh, I went to Poland when I was in college and I'm not a big fan of mushrooms. The sign above says mushrooms in Polish. I guess I shouldn't have cut the sign that says "Mushroom Street" out.
Q: Does this translate to ticket sales? Tulsa was last in attendance in 2011, averaging 4,828 fans.
Krajenka: With the actual Social Saturday package that we're offering, that's where we've seen an increase in tickets sold. It's a hard number to find, but we have to believe this is just a leaf on the marketing tree. We have to do this and hopefully if people are tweeting about our games and friends see it, there's interest that's sparked there.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com. On Twitter @JaydaEvans.