Top 10 Twitter Tips from @OptaJoe

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the first Leeds Sport Lunch, organised by Simon Banoub from Opta together with a new group looking to bring together the sports digital businesses in the city.

The event was well attended and in a lovely location next to Leeds station (though the exhibition of nude photo’s on the walls could be a little distracting at times but certainly provided a talking point!).  It was great to hear from the likes of Sam Brown from about their rebrand and Danyl Bosomworth from First10 Digital on bringing Joey Barton online – more on that another time.

For this post I wanted to concentrate on the presentation and wise words from Simon at Opta.  Twitter has been an amazing success story for the business as they have looked to place themselves at the forefront of the sports stats industry, especially in football.  For those of you who may not know about Opta Sports, they are a B2B statistics company who currently provide live stats for a huge number of federations, clubs, betting companies, media companies, brands and app makers.  They provide stats in football, rugby and cricket and were recently purchased by Perform Group for an estimated £40m and in 2013 have become the data provider for the Premier League, International Cricket Council and Brazilian National Football Team amongst many others.

For a B2B company to embrace Twitter is not unheard of but may not be recommended by all.  And it is not something new to them, they have had a presence on social media for 4 years now.  Running 17 accounts on Twitter in 9 different languages and 5 accounts on Facebook.

Twitter is by far the biggest success story with 670k fans following the accounts with the original UK version @OptaJoe being the most followed with 418k fans.   On Facebook they have 22k fans and not the same impact as Twitter.  For me, the way they present their content and the use of it is driven very much by current events.  Giving snapshots of great pieces of information at times when it is most relevant.

They average around 10k retweets per week and has been known to go to 50k on a busy week.  They receive around 1,800 @ mentions per week and tweet on average 65 time per day (very active).  All this has given them a global reach of 147m users per week!

From their 4 years of experience in using Twitter, Simon gave us an insight into what works for them.  It isn’t going to work for everyone as all businesses are different as are the markets they work within.  But we can take some of them out and use when dealing with our own challenges and looking at how best to use Twitter for our means.

So here are Simon’s Top 10 tips…



Consistency is key.  It is needed to develop trust by being reliable in content, tone and approach.  You will notice that every tweet, no matter which account it comes from, is set out in exactly the same way.  It always starts with a number and then the fact, finishing off with a summary work. Stable.



Segment your audience, accounts and then tweet appropriate content to them.  What Opta have tried to do is rather than having one account that gives out info on 20 different leagues and sports is to give each its own account and identity. Thus tweeting La Liga stats out in Spanish and English using the @OptaJose account.  It keeps things simple, relevant and continues the consistency theme mentioned before.



Opta are very keen to keep things as laid back and relaxed as possible in their approach and tone.  They encourage staff to get involved if they see someone asking a stats question and they know they can help.  This helps spreads the responsibility and shows to those not using the official accounts what is happening and get them involved.



An important one for anyone using social media to remember.  It is all very well to have a presence and tweet occasionally but if you don’t on a regular basis then people will forget about you.  Being on there all the time and in people’s timelines, without being spammy, is great way of staying ‘front of mind’ with fans and influencers alike.

Opta stats



Timing is always important when you are looking to supply people with relevant information.  Delaying can lose the crucial momentum and that ‘front of mind’ status that is needed.  By consistently giving people interesting information at times they are open to it the most is an important one to Opta.



There are people who can, and will, happily amplify your message if targeted correctly.  This is something that can easily done by tagging them into updates.  Players like an ego boost when they can get it so retweeting a stat about themselves is something they’re happy to do.  This can be the same for clubs when a player is mentioned or the club itself, it provides interesting content for their fans with minimal time needed.



This is something that many brands and clubs are guilty of.  Opta have shown that Twitter is the most beneficial, and successful, platform for them and have also tested on Facebook.  But if a corporate Snapchat account doesn’t suit you, your brand or content, then don’t do it.  Instead of trying to do everything and splitting resources, concentrate on doing a few things really well instead.  Having an amazing Twitter account and nothing else is better than having multiple G+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc accounts that are average at best.  Opta went on Pinterest briefly before deciding it wasn’t for them, it was something quickly realised and a decision made.



Opta is a constantly evolving business and their social media is the same.  They look to monitor what they are doing and test different approached over time to see what works.  People’s habits change and everyone wants to evolve, having the same methods set in stone is not the way forward in this fast-moving world we live in.



An interesting lesson from Opta, and one that should be noted by brands and agencies alike.  Don’t start to get twitchy when you have 8 followers after 2 weeks.  Give it time and put the effort in, the rewards will be had in the end.  Panicking and buying fans through expensive ads isn’t the best way forward.  The numbers may look better but engagement will be less and the brand could suffer as a result.



My favourite tip from Opta and one that I say to all that I work with.  You are on people’s timelines for a reason so make sure you give them what they are looking for.  Either be interesting or helpful or offer another perspective.  It’s about utilising what you have and giving people something they cannot get elsewhere.



There were some others that didn’t make Simon’s top 10 list but are certainly worth noting;

  • Only retweet appropriate stuff from appropriate people
  • Don’t use loads of hashtags for no real reason. #hashtags #reason #loads
  • No-one cares if you’re nearly at 5/10/100k followers (especially those who are already following you)
  • Accept that not everyone will be fan. Take criticism well. Learn to ignore the ridiculous stuff.


About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 820 posts

Dan is the Founder & CEO of Digital Sport. Can be found at sports industry events and heard every week on the Digital Sport Insider podcast. @DanielMcLaren

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