The LA Kings pose with Lord Stanley's Cup. Not a bad cover shot for the offseason

Credit: LA Kings Official Facebook Page

The Los Angeles Kings are the NHL‘s Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in their 45-year history in California. To celebrate their first triumph, we’ve decided to list their top 15 tweets from their amazing drought-breaking run to the Stanley Cup.

Ahh, the tweet that started it all. In the heat of the moment, after a Game 1 victory over the favoured Vancouver Canucks, the creative brains behind the Kings’ Twitter feed threw up this gold nugget of a tweet. Not only did it get over 13,000 retweets, and generate some 20,000 followers in one week, but it managed to get under the skin of Canucks fans everywhere. Well, mainly British Columbia, but still. It rustled many a feather. (Note: Harftime claimed the Kings as their own after this tweet. When the going’s good…)

This tweet is also from the Canucks/Kings series during the playoffs. It was in reference to the Canucks’ Ryan Kesler, who was accused of diving after exchanging words with the Kings’ Mike Richards. Not as controversial as the first tweet, but it was a tad cheeky from an official Twitter feed that, generally as a rule, should remain somewhat objective.

We could fill this entire post of 15 tweets with ones from the Vancouver series, and then some, such was the level of annoyance Vancouver fans directed at the LA Kings on Twitter. This one was included just to show that the Kings are arguably the most unconventionally operated Twitter handle across all sports. How many other official team handles have you seen brazenly reply to opposition goads in such a deadpan way? The only thing they could have done better here is an RT reply, so it went out to all their fans, rather than just a direct reply to the person who the tweet was commented to.

Arguably more controversial than the, “you’re welcome” tweet, the Kings tweeted about a massive hit put on Vancouver poster boy, Henrik Sedin. As cheeky as it gets!

The last tweet regarding the Canucks. Promise. I know it’s been filled with tweets from the Vancover-LA series, but the bee in the bonnet of the British Columbians from the Kings’ tweets was too good not to feature. The ability of the Kings to reply with great zest to the ‘Nucks fans agitations was superb.

In a “Chuck Norris Facts” type of undertaking, the Kings started pushing for their man, Anze Kopitar, for the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 13 by comparing him, always favourably, to the other contenders for the cover. Interesting use of social media here, Kings.

Again with the NHL 13 cover vote, the Kings show all their sassiness in this tweet. Apparently, they weren’t just taking aim at the Canucks. Seems like no one in the NHL is safe!

Some might call this tweet classless, others careless. Either way, it stayed true to their Twitter strategy throughout the playoffs. Again, only change would be an RT reply to give it better coverage.

Anyone remember that part from “The Office”? The Kings certainly did, bringing it up when Rainn Wilson asked for tickets to his first NHL game. Combing sport and pop culture? Brilliant. They get bonus points for staying true to their word.

Part sour grapes, part burn, this tweet ad to be included. It was clever and stuck to the Kings’ strategy of stretching acceptability of tweets to the limit.

The Canucks weren’t safe, nor the Coyotes, nor the Flyers. So what makes Conan O’Brien think he was safe? Brilliant shut down of the late night talk show host.

Down 1-0 in Game 4 where the Kings were hoping to sweep the New Jersey Devils? Not to worry for the Kings. After Drew Doughty scored the tying goal on a power play only about one minute later, the Kings dropped this great tweet. They went on to lose the game, but that didn’t matter in the end.

Ever the scoundrels on Twitter, the Kings have a bit of fun at the expense of the New Jersey Devils and their originality, or lack thereof, of goal songs.

The crowd could sense blood after the first period of the clinching game, when the Kings led 3-0. The @LAKings knew it, too. This tweet got one of the biggest receptions from the @LAKings all playoffs, as the fans just ate it up.

The tweet all Kings fans had been waiting for all playoffs! After one of the best fairytale runs in all of sports, the Kings became the NHL’s first 8th seed to go on and lift the Stanley Cup.

Another tweet that is clearly full of emotion and 45 years of frustrations for fans. Must have been a great feeling to send this tweet out to their 150,000+ followers.

Again, it shows all the emotion of nearly half a century of empty handedness.

After a few emotionally charged tweets, the @LAKings get back to their cheeky ways with the #NBD hashtag. Great show of fun after what was a stressful ride through the Stanley Cup playoffs for the Kings.

This is what it’s all about for the big stars; being the hero in their kids’ eyes. Who else’s Dad gave them an iconic sports trophy to drink chocolate milk out of? Have a feeling this video, of inspirational captain Dustin Brown‘s sons drinking chocolate milk from Lord Stanley’s Cup, will become a lasting vision of the Kings’ remarkable run to the cup.

The 20th and final tweet, like most in this post, shows the Kings’ cheekiness and ability to get a reaction out of their followers. All in all, the Kings were the stars of the Stanley Cup playoffs on and off the ice. They showed so much character and ability to reach fans on so many levels. ————————————————————-

<a href=”http://twittercounter.com/LAKings”>LA Kings on Twitter Counter.com</a>The Kings’ great work on social media never went unnoticed, with the guys at Activ8social ranking them #9 in their Top 20 Teams in Social Media recently.

With imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, it would be surprising for teams around the world who, when it is an “us against the world” mentality that all low-seeded playoff/finals teams have, don’t utilise this strategy.

It worked for the Kings, who, as you can see in the graph above, grew their Twitter followers from 66,000 in mid-March to over 150,000 on the day they clinched Lord Stanley’s Cup. Congratulations to the men behind the LA Kings social media, Pat Donahue Jr. and Dewayne Hankins, on an unbelievably effective social media campaign and to the LA Kings organisation on being the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Champions.

Follow them here:



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Podcast transcription

Francis: Sean Callanan from Sports Geek, Digital Guru, how are you this morning?

Sean: I’m good Francis, good to be here.

Francis: I’m wondering if Leeds, it’s a bit of an old fashioned football club, you reckon they’re on Twitter? We should check!

Sean: I haven’t checked! I do know that Dan from the Storm is over there writing live tweets.

Francis: I’m going to check right now.

Sean: From the game…check the hash tag WCC. Actually I do think Leeds are on Twitter.

Francis: It’s so old school I thought they’d still be sending telegraphs.

Sean: I’d put a bet on at @LeedsRhino as a guess.

Francis: Most good sporting franchises around the world are using it, Manchester United still doesn’t.

Sean: Manchester United are one of the ones standing alone in not having a Twitter account.

Francis: What’s the logic behind that?

Sean: Well officially they said they didn’t see any commercial benefit in that and especially a strange one, occasionally people say that about different platforms, Manchester United are saying why should we be on Twitter…

Francis: You can’t make any money from it.

Sean: Exactly or why should we be doing Instagram and sometimes they don’t have a direct commercial benefit in that ‘We’ll send out a tweet and we’ll sell stuff’.

Francis: Is it because Sir Alex Ferguson can’t operate a mobile phone?

Sean: Well again he doesn’t need to do it. There is no need for Sir Alex to be on. But there definitely is commercial benefit in building that relationship with your fans, building their affinity and there actually are opportunities to put that call to action to sell tickets, sell merchandise, all of those kinds of things. The main thing is you’re building a relationship with your fans and you’re communicating with them more. That’s the commercial benefit for all of these platforms. Whether it’s Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest, that’s the opportunity. If you do it right you can find those different markets and build up that fan base and if that fan base then becomes more enabled with you that’s what you want to do, you want to build your digital tribe.

Francis: And I can confirm that Leeds Rhino have moved to the digital age and they’re @LeedsRhino with 31,000 followers and I’ve just joined to be their next one.

Sean: We will have a bit of an assessment of how they’re going against Melbourne Storm online while the match is actually happening and look at some of their game day coverage.

Francis: If you use it cleverly and you’re funny and witty and you know how to connect with your tribe as you call it, you can get massive mileage out of it. And we’re going to speak to somebody whose job is to do just that with a couple of American franchises.

Sean: Exactly. Especially when you’re running a club account as opposed to a league account, you’re really talking directly to your fans and that’s how we advise all of our clubs. I mean you’re not a Leeds Rhino fan so you only started following it but they should be, their key market that they’re talking to is their fan. They might have casual fans or someone that’s just following to keep up with the news. But you really want to be talking to your super avid fan that will love everything you do. I love the quote from Seth Godin, ‘positive deviance’. It just describes sports fans perfectly. They are just so wanting to express their passion, say how much they love the team, and show how much you support us. So you want to be talking to those kinds of fans and if those fans love it, it’s a big tick. If the opposition fans don’t love what you’re doing, that doesn’t matter because you’re serving your fans. They’re the ones that you’re monetizing as everyone is saying they want to monetize social media. They’re the ones that are going to bring money into your club and give love to your sponsors and turn up to your events and games. So they’re your key customers, they’re the ones you’ve got to look after.

Francis: And that’s exactly the job that our next guest has.

Sean: Yes we’ve got Dewayne Hankins from the LA Kings who works at AAG sports and is one of the guys behind the at @LAKings and the digital strategy behind what the LA Kings have been doing. Good day Dewayne.

Dewayne: Good morning gentlemen. How are you?

Francis: Really well Dewayne. The Kings had an amazing year last year in the run to the Stanley Cup and I guess when you come into focus when you make the playoffs, did you notice at the time that the interest in the King’s Twitter account went through the roof around that time?

Dewayne: Yes. I mean I believe our first sort of effort to kind of get the ordinary NHL fan to notice would probably have been after game one when we tweeted to the fans of Vancouver. I think it was something along the lines of ‘Everybody outside of VC are welcome’. And that was a bit of a dig at the Kanucks because for those of you not familiar, Vancouver has an incredible following in their home following of British Columbia but outside of their province, most of the other Canadian teams don’t really like them. They played right into that political minefield if you will.

Francis: So did you cop a lot of heat for that tweet?

Dewayne: Yes. I think if there wasn’t a line before I think we definitely found the line then, in terms of agitating our opponents for sure. There was more written about the tweet the next day than the actual game itself in the newspapers. So that’s something that is funny and everything and you can laugh about it but really the story should have been about the guys on the ice and the win that they had over the team, not about what we were saying on social media.

Sean: I mean there are a lot of teams that see that kind of thing and see the potential risk if you don’t continue to win, your account is going to going to cop it but at the time it was one of the most re-tweeted tweets of all time and since was passed by TJ Ford and his comments on the NFL, after a Monday night football game. Obviously your fans completely rallied around it and rally around the attitude that you guys show throughout those playoffs?

Dewayne: Absolutely. And I think for us, we took a bit of a tone going into the playoffs that said ‘We’ve barely made it into these playoffs. Let’s play the underdog card and let’s go out there’, and again you have to give most of the credit to the team obviously because they won 16-4 and we had a 3-0 lead and everyone of our best of 7 series. They really allowed us to do our job really, really effectively. Because our fans were just really enjoying the ride. There was really no point in which our team looked like it was going to be in any kind of trouble until the Stanley Cup final when we actually did get pushed to the game 6 for the first time.

Francis: Dewayne in a sports market as crowded as the one that you’re in even though LA doesn’t have an NFL team interest and American football is massive and college sport is big and hockey has to fight its corner more than any of the professional sport, do you have to look for a point of difference in your social media strategy to connect with fans to galvanise those that are board already and give them a sense of tribal identify but also try to attract new fans?

Dewayne: You guys nailed it. That’s absolutely what we do. We’re certainly not as large a fan base as the Lakers, even the Clippers at this point, definitely not the Dodgers, in a very crowded marketplace you also have USC football. But we have a very, very passionate fan base, a tribe, I like that term that you guys use to call it because that’s exactly what they are to us. And if we played to their strengths on social media, especially on Twitter, if we converse with them and we get them to rally behind us, as a tribe we can become a very loud minority and we definitely saw that with the playoffs last season for sure.

Sean: After the Stanley Cup win there was obviously the issues with the lock-out, how much was that, we spoke to the NBA guys and they were going through the lockout. How tough was that as a team, you had all this momentum that effectively stopping with the work stoppage, how did you guys handle that and obviously now how are you ramping things up with the season progressing?

Dewayne: You know I think we had it easier than the other teams in the league coming out with the Stanley Cup title. I think the one thing that we did really well on the ground here in Los Angeles, the lockout certainly went on longer than it should have but that meant we had the Stanley Cup longer than we should have. So we had a lot of local events to make sure that the fans got their time in with the cup. Although we obviously couldn’t utilise the players, we did want our fans to know it was a passionate relationship that we shared with them. That honeymoon did start to die down a bit I’ll be honest about January when the season wasn’t up and running. But once the season was announced, our president CEO Tim Leiweke, he did say ‘You know what? We don’t want to apologise for what we did, we want to go out and win another championship for you guys’. So what we did I think when the lockout ended, we donated a million dollars to local charities and said hopefully this is the end of it, now let’s go out and win another Stanley Cup.

Francis: Dewayne Hankins is with us he’s the senior director of digital strategy at AAG sports which includes the LA Kings, current Stanley Cup holders in America’s National Hockey League. Dewayne in terms of the fans you attract, what’s the demographic? Can you get a really good sense of who it is that becomes Kings fans and are you surprised? Does Twitter open up your eyes to the fact that you might have a different fan base to the one that you thought you might have had?

Dewayne: No, it actually does register pretty well with the actual demographic we see on the ticketing side, it’s 70 percent male, 25 to 49, so that plays right into the wheel house of Twitter. We definitely have a loud and minority fan base that is female as well. But those are the people that come to games, those are the people that engage with us on social media.

Francis: Great to talk to you. The season so far for you guys?

Dewayne: Yeah we got off to a bit of a slow start. Our team would not want to be referred to as a Stanley Cup hangover because as our coach says he did not have one. He knows what they are but he did not have one! And you know I think that the team is getting off and running. I do think it’s interest, the Kings last year barely made it into the post season and this year it’s a shorter season, a slower start but I think they’ve won the last couple of games. We have another game on Saturday here against Colorado so we’ll see what happens. I think either way for us it’s trying to keep it fun, trying to keep it entertaining and as much as we take digs at other fans of other teams, we also know when we can take digs at ourselves.

Sean: That’s the thing now, you can’t be playing the underdog tag when you’ve got the cup in the back of the LA Kings headquarters.

Dewayne: That’s correct. So it would be like the Yankees if they had that mentality. So that doesn’t mean we still can’t be humorous, interact with our fans, have fun with our fans. We’ve probably become a bit more modest with the rings on our fingers but we certainly still have fun.

Francis: Good luck with the remainder of the year and we’ll follow closely on Twitter. Thanks for talking to us today Dewayne.

Sean: Thanks Dewayne.

Dewayne: Thank you gentlemen, always a pleasure.

Francis: Dewayne Hankins there who is as I said digital strategy manager at AAG sports who includes the LA Kings who are the current Stanley Cup holders. Good of you to come in again, Sean.

Sean: No problem.

Francis: How can we find you whilst we’re flicking through our Leeds Rhinos tweets today?

Sean: @SeanCallanan or @SportsGeek or SportsGeekHQ.com