How the WNBA got the W on Twitter

Sometimes a collaboration is, forgive us, a slam dunk. Since the start of the partnership between the WNBA and Twitter, the league has looked to the platform for its roster of ways to engage with the community and amplify player voices. In celebration of the 25th season, Twitter provided a few key assists to get it all done and the impact it has made would’ve been hard to predict.


The love for the @WNBA on Twitter is real and growing. Since joining the platform in 2008, WNBA has been the go-to source for all things women’s basketball: the league, its players, and the discussions that matter to the community. What started as a partnership to stream live games has evolved into a dynamic conversation between players, fans, special guests, and experts all in one place. With over 700K followers at the time of publication, fans can find all sorts of ways to interact with the sport. From making #WNBATwitter official with an emoji to Twitter Spaces conversations to enhance live game streaming, the platform provided the tools for the league to reach more eyes than ever in the 2021 season.

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"Our partnership is so special. We have a long-standing relationship focused on bringing the best of the WNBA to fans on Twitter,” says Kelsey Taylor, Senior Manager of Sports Partnerships. "From live game distribution to Spaces conversations to engagement opportunities for fans, and everything in between, we continue to grow and innovate, together."


Throughout its history, the WNBA has been at the forefront of conversations of social justice and instrumental in pushing women’s sports forward — and Twitter is the ideal place to easily bring all of that front and center. The diverse community talks basketball, of course, but they also Tweet about politics, movements, and how their own experiences have shaped their views of the world. 


“Our fans recognize the role social justice plays in every aspect of our league identity, and Twitter continues to be a place where fans, players, teams, and the league can converge around conversations in the social justice space,” says the CMO of the WNBA, Phil Cook. “Twitter serves as a platform for our collective advocacy for positive change and awareness on critical issues our country faces today.”


The Twitter team dug into insights around fan engagement and behaviors and found that, in 2020, the WNBA audience Tweeted about social justice almost 13x more than the average person on Twitter. The players and staff of the WNBA are often using what they wear to spark change in the social justice community and show support for political movements, which gets the entire sports community talking on and off the timeline. The impact this has on the sports community does not go unnoticed.¹


“Conversations on Twitter evolve and become real change in the world. We want to help support and elevate the social justice conversations that are most important to this community,” says Taylor. “We also know that Twitter is a place for the #WNBATwitter community to support each other both on and off the court.”


In order to stand behind what matters most to the players, Twitter worked with the league and players to launch #ForTheW in May 2021. The campaign featured hoodies with the first-ever dynamic Twitter QR code leading to a pre-populated Tweet that people could post to show their support for #WNBATwitter. All 144 players and key influencers received the hoodies. Behind the scenes, much of the design and production was in the hands of BIPOC communities.

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"It's not just a hoodie; it's a platform,” says John Lee, Lead for Twitter Next Creative Lab. “It was designed to give players a direct line for sparking conversation on Twitter, because we know when WNBA players speak, Twitter moves in a big way."


Along with the new hashtag, the hoodies drove a massive amount of growth in the conversation. The #W image was scanned over 2.5K times, and Tweets about the WNBA opening day more than doubled on Twitter over the previous year. The official hashtag itself was used over 25K times during the 2021 season. The campaign was featured on AdWeekpost-game on ESPN, and the launch Tweet was one of the league’s most-liked Tweets, with over 500 Retweets and Quote Tweets.


“Twitter did a terrific job of recognizing the importance the Orange Hoodie had on our cultural identity,” says Cook. “The hoodie theme tied with the resurgence of QR codes delivering messages and created the perfect vehicle to connect with today’s youth on social justice, and that’s how the #FortheW Hoodie came to life.”


Analytics aside, it was clear that players, teams, and fans loved both the design and the idea. With Tweets like “Watch us. Stand with us,” from the Las Vegas Aces and “How dope is the NEW interactive WNBA hoody?”  from Terrika Foster-Brasby, the overall dialogue was enthusiastic and exciting.

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Looking ahead, the WNBA partnership will continue to be in the starting line up for Twitter. The game plan is to grow and engage this dynamic community in new ways. By diving into the newest products the platform has to offer and building on what’s to come for the league, this partnership has just gotten started.


“We look forward to continuing to innovate with Twitter to find new and disruptive ways to share our stories and represent the voice of the league, teams, and WNBA players,” says Cook. “There are endless possibilities for engaging the WNBA Twitter community, and we consider Twitter a tentpole platform for connecting us all.”



1. Twitter Internal DATA (SeMANTIC CORE); Time FRAME: 2020; US ONLY

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