Q&A | Talking Twitter

Talking Twitter with Tina Jain of Detroit Pistons

Each month, Talking Twitter takes you behind the scenes of some of Twitter’s most interesting accounts with the social media professionals responsible for some of the platform’s standout Tweets and viral moments. This month, we sat down with Tina Jain, director of social media for the Detroit Pistons, to talk about hometown hustle, the sports Tweet heard around the world, and the #ReturnOfTheTeal.


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What makes @DetroitPistons worth following on Twitter?
So I may be biased because the Pistons are my hometown NBA team, but the Pistons and the city of Detroit, really it's a blue-collar city right? So this city loves its sports, especially basketball. When the Pistons moved downtown a couple of years ago, we really invested in the community and made this stronger affiliation to the city of Detroit and what the Pistons are doing to be a part of the revitalization efforts here. 


So the Pistons are not only trying to dominate on the court, which is obviously the ultimate goal, but really in our community and with the culture too. I love this quote about Detroit and it really fits the Pistons mentality, “There are cities that get by on their good looks, but Detroit has to work for a living,” and it's so true here. There's a Detroit vs. everybody mentality. There's a hustle here, a grit, and an underdog mentality that truly is different from any other city.


Any viral moments we might know your work from?
One was definitely this past offseason when we did our teal jersey unveil, also known as #ReturnOfTheTeal. We have been wanting to do this for a few seasons, and it has been in the works for a long time. There are big players associated with [teal], it was a part of the Pistons’ history, and we're paying a nod to our heritage with that. We would see Tweets all the time, like, “When’s teal coming back, when’s teal coming back?” So we knew we had all the receipts. I went through Twitter from years past to last year to see what people were saying about teal and we actually embedded [Tweets] into our marketing campaign. The impressions, the video views, the engagements — everyone loved it. 

Something that we do here is we're really into our area code. Detroit's is 313, so we play on that number a lot. One way I like to do that is to send 3:13am or 3:13pm Tweets. Twitter is the best platform to do anything that's timely, so if we have a really fun video that we want to send out, or if there's some big news, instead of going out at 3pm or 4pm, we'll purposely put it out at 3:13.

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How long have you been in social media, and how has the industry changed since you started out?
You know, the industry changes every single day, but the biggest change for me has been that social has a seat at the table. So for social media professionals today, they have a seat — it’s not just a value add in campaigns or partnerships, it's actually the value. Professionally, I've [worked] in social since 2011. I started my career at NHL and I made some stops along the way — at MLB Advanced Media and New Jersey Devils —  and now with the Pistons of course.


You have to constantly just be ready, so you don't have to get ready. That’s a big mentality that I brought here and again goes back to Detroit being a city where you hustle, and there’s grit, and we just have to stay ready for any opportunity. Because at any given time, something can be handed to you and you have to capitalize on that. A good piece of advice I heard from our GM, Troy Weaver, last offseason he said, “What does the offseason mean for the Pistons? It means a lot of blood sweat, and tears.” And I said okay, but for social media professionals, for our team, that's going to mean a lot of blood, sweat, and Tweets. We have to put the work in, too, because social is truly a 25-hours-a-day, eight-days-a-week, 366-days-a-year job.


Describe your relationship with Twitter.
Twitter’s always on my mind. I'm not just saying this but really it is my favorite platform. It's the go-to for news, real-time sports conversations … there’s something for everyone. I consume, I engage, and I publish for sure, but sometimes as a social media professional, your personal brand does take a backseat because you're always working — I [use] it mostly to consume because I'm doing a lot of the publishing and the engaging on my brand handle.

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Quick-fire round: 


Throwing friendly shade at other accounts — yay or nay? 
For me, it’s a big time yay, so long as it’s done tastefully.

Including more than one hashtag — yay or nay?
I'm gonna say nay to that one. I think you should just keep the main thing, the main thing.

Using emojis to replace words — yay or nay?
Big time, yeah. It’s fun and light, and sometimes I think it can be a little cheeky, too, especially if we have something big coming up, like a sneak peek or something and use the eye emoji.

How do you prioritize the different functions of your Twitter account's role?
When I break it down by platforms, whether it’s a game night or a launch unveil or something, Twitter is definitely the go-to, and it's the first go-to at that because we know the conversations are taking place at Twitter. People are just hyper-engaged there, and they're contributing, instead of on other platforms where the conversation is really [one-sided]. Twitter can spread like wildfire, so we make sure we're balancing being conversational and talking to fans like a fan and combining it with content that they can't get anywhere else.


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Tell us about a Tweet so good, you wish you'd written it.
I'm a hockey girl, so forever and always, when the LA Kings Tweeted, “To everyone in Canada outside of BC, you're welcome.” I just credit them for being the catalyst for why sports teams now have personalities. This is back in 2012, too, so you really didn't see this level of shade — it was the Tweet heard around the world.


What accounts are a must-follow for you right now?
I will always say follow Detroit Pistons, Motor City Cruise, and NBA, plus our gaming team, Pistons GT, that just won their championships. Personally, like I said, I'm a hockey girl at heart, so accounts like Boring [Sean] Monahan and Strombone. I just love their content; it's so funny. I also really like traveling, so whether it’s brands like Delta or Away, those are accounts that I follow religiously, because not only do they provide real information about traveling or a product I need to know about, but they also come for me with their memes, like they’re personally attacking me [laughs].


This interview has 280 characters left. Share a Tweet from your drafts folder with us.
Right now, I have two drafts. One of them is sentimental, giving my Pistons family some love for the past two seasons and looking ahead to what’s next for me career-wise. I also have a draft from last year during the NFL season for a sports joke about Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones. I may need it this season, and I laugh every time I see it, so at least it gives me that.

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