Never be afraid to learn from others
Twitter is a necessary tool in today’s sports media. I believe the sports media was a key demographic in Twitter’s growth. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t learn something new about sports, whether it’s in-game news, social media, business, technology, sponsorship, or even relationship dynamics. Learning is part of the Twitter process for me.
Today is the second installment in my planned weeklong Q&A series discussing social media-sports (#SMsports) with my Twitter “friends”. Yesterday was the first installment with Andrew Bucholtz and Lisa Horne. My line-up today features:
Tim Cary – @TimCary – CBS Sports Social Media Editor
Kristi Dosh – @SportsBizMiss – ESPN Sports Business Reporter, Author, Attorney and Radio Host
1. Please tell me a little bit of your background and how it relates to sports.
Cary: I am one of two social media editors for CBSSports.com, and have been in that role for nearly three years. I have been a sports fan my whole life, and have dabbled in writing, live-blogging, announcing, coaching, etc. – pretty much everything but playing! So when I’m working, I’m watching sports. When I’m not working…well…I’m still watching sports!
Dosh: I’m currently a sports business reporter at ESPN, having previously reported on sports business at Forbes and Comcast Sports Southeast. Prior to my career in sports media, I was a practicing attorney. I’ve authored two books on sports business topics, Saturday Millionaires: How Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges (published September 2013) and Balancing Baseball: How Collective Bargaining Has Changed the Major Leagues (due out in 2014).
2. What was the first social media outlet that you used?
Cary: I started on Facebook first, and then Twitter. My personal preference is Twitter (and honestly, it’s not close!), and I’ve enjoyed using that to network with people in sports media over the past few years. In fact, I found my current job because I was following my now-boss on Twitter.
Dosh: Facebook was the first social media outlet I used personally, but Twitter was the first I used professionally. I’m currently on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. For professional use, I find Twitter to be the most valuable – from industry Twitter chats to breaking news, Twitter is the one social media network I can’t live without professionally.
2A. How often do you use other social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest for either personal or professional use? Which of those is your top preference? Least? Please describe your reasoning behind it.
Cary: I operate the @CBSSports pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, so sharing our content on those three platforms consumes much of my day. Like probably anyone in social media, I’ve dabbled in each of the networks you mentioned, but I don’t have a lot of extra time to experiment on a personal level. I like to interact with others and get news/headlines/content, so I tend to spend more time on Twitter to see what’s going on vs. some of the image-driven sites like Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.
Dosh: I maintain both a personal Facebook account and a professional page on Facebook. I’ve found Pinterest to be most helpful in planning my wedding, but I’m always exploring new ways to use it professionally. I’m increasingly using Instagram to share photos when I travel for professional assignments and events and to follow others in the industry. I’ve found Instagram allows me to connect with others on a more personal level, because people often most photos that aren’t necessarily from professional endeavors. While I always advise people to focus on using these platforms for professional development, I think it’s important to sprinkle in (appropriate) personal facts, stories, and photos now and then to connect with people on a more personal level.
3. What were the primary motives for your engagement in social media?
Cary: I used Facebook initially to connect with friends from college. My interest in Twitter was specifically related to my then-amateur sports writing hobby/career pursuit. I realized early on that it was a great way to share my content with an interested audience, and the relationships I’ve developed online have been invaluable to me. I have literally thousands of friends I never would have gotten to know if it hadn’t been for social media.
Dosh: I joined Twitter at the behest of an editor after I received my first book deal. Four years later I can say it’s the best move I ever made professionally. I’ve used Twitter to develop relationships with others in the industry, to share and promote my work, to enhance my research by engaging with sports fans, and to increase my own knowledge of the sports world.
4. In terms of Twitter, I like to call it the world’s largest sports bar. Discuss, trash-talk, meet new people all while you’re watching a game “together”. Is Twitter the best place to discuss sports in this social media age we are in? Why or why not?
Cary: I think it is, and I think a lot of the fun is finding the right people to follow. A lot of my follows are from the sports realm, and it’s amazing to see Kobe Bryant hit a buzzer-beater at 1 am ET, then open my phone a few seconds later and look at three or four DOZEN exclamation mark-filled tweets all sent at the same instant, even in the ‘middle of the night.’ News consistently shows up first on Twitter. Not TV. Not radio. Not newspapers. So for a sports fan who wants the very latest news, you have to be on Twitter.
5. How long have you been on Twitter? What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen on the social network since you joined? Biggest upsides? Drawbacks?
Cary: I joined Twitter in March 2009. The biggest change I’ve seen is simply the number of people who now have an account and the integration with seemingly every product/brand/TV show/team/you name it.
I like following back when I meet interesting people, and I probably follow more accounts than most (over 3,000). The biggest drawback is I don’t get to read every single tweet. But I’d still rather have that connection and relationship and be accessible for strangers that could become friends, even if stuff slips through the cracks sometimes because I’m following what some would say is ‘too many’ people. I’ve met dozens of Twitter friends in real life, and turning online friendships into flesh-and-blood friendships has been one of my favorite parts of embracing social media.
Dosh: I’ve been on Twitter for four years. The biggest change is probably how much news is broken on Twitter now. I think Twitter is the best social media network for professional development if you’re interested in working in sports, because virtually everyone who works in sports is on Twitter. Not only can you connect with people you might otherwise not have access to, but there are industry chats to participate in and news is often broken on Twitter. The biggest drawback is that you can’t always trust the breaking news you see on Twitter. In the rush to be the first, many have jumped the gun on reporting “news.”
6. SI just came out with their Twitter 100 list of top sports accounts to follow. In your opinion, how valuable are these lists? Do you follow many of these accounts (describe reasonings please)? Do you have a top 5 of Twitter accounts to follow (sports or non-sports)? If so, who are they?
Cary: The Twitter 100 list is a nice idea, but one of the great things about Twitter is no two people really follow the exact same accounts. Everyone has different tastes, interests, and specialties. I would say I follow the best reporters on the Twitter 100 list, but not most of the athletes/other personalities. If a star player tweets something important, it will show up on my timeline a bunch of other times because it’ll get thousands of RTs. So, I don’t follow a lot of players outside my personal favorite teams. In my opinion, the SI list got a few right and missed on some others, but every person is going to have their own take on that and it’s not worth nit-picking.
Dosh: I always check out these lists to see if there’s anyone I don’t follow who I should be following. The lists are valuable because I almost always find someone I didn’t know about who becomes a good follow. I usually check out the person’s last 10 tweets or so, and if there’s anything valuable or interesting then I give them a follow. I don’t have a top 5 list to follow, because I think you should be following people who best align with your own interests, which is obviously going to vary from person to person.
7. Piggybacking on that question a bit with a two-parter: It feels like the negativity is greater than ever on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram. How much negativity have you dealt with in social media? Has it affected your use of the social networks (i.e. how often you log on to them)?
Cary: Yes, there is way too much negativity on social media…but there is also way too much negativity in the world as a whole. So I don’t cut back my usage of Twitter or Facebook because people say stupid things…I just tune out the ones who don’t have anything worthwhile to say.
Dosh: I have absolutely dealt with negativity on social media. The downside to providing easy access to others is that readers of your work can quickly and easily find you. That being said, my positive experiences have far outnumbered the negative. I’ve never had something so negative that it impacted my use of social media.
7a. Are there any sports accounts that try to share more of the positive side of sports? Those who may be using social media to show there’s more than what happens on the court/field?
Cary: I think teams’ official accounts do a good job of highlighting what their players/coaches are involved with off the court/field. For as many arrests/idiotic decisions that get blared across the headlines, there are at least that many sports personalities who are using their influence to do good, and they don’t get enough credit. One sports account that jumps to mind: @ChaplainMarty. It’s neat to get a glimpse of athletes at my favorite school (Purdue) taking mission trips to Haiti and South Africa in their free time to serve the less fortunate.
Dosh: The first person who comes to mind is my friend Alicia Jessop (@RulingSports). It’s her mission to highlight the positive things athletes are doing off the field, and she does a great job of it.
8. With social media changing/innovating at such a rapid pace, especially at the sports level what is your outlook for social media and sports? Where do you see sports going with social media?
Cary: They say the only thing constant is change, and sports/social media is a good example of that. It’s thrilling/scary/fascinating to work in a field where the technology and best practices are constantly evolving. I expect even more teams to add in-house social media reporters that don’t just post in-game updates to Twitter, but are dedicated to bringing fans the best beat coverage around the clock in 140 characters or less. Also look for sports stadiums/arenas to spend major time/effort/money upgrading in-venue cell/data service so fans don’t have to stay home to tweet during the game.
Dosh: When I guest lecture at universities, I always tell students they have to be on social media (particularly Twitter) if they want to work in sports. I think that is becoming more true with every passing day. There is no better way to have your thumb on the pulse of sports, and there are incredible networking opportunities.
9. Any final comments you’d like to add?
Cary: Not really. I just wanted to say thank you for including me and for those who may be reading this, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter – I’d love to talk sports with some new friends!
Dosh: If you want to use social media for professional development, my rule is to keep your content 90% professional and 10% personal. I think it’s important to work in personal details here and there, but your main focus should be sharing information pertinent to your career goals.
THANK YOU Tim and Kristi. I appreciate your time.
Up tomorrow: Freddie Coleman from ESPN Radio and Duane Rollins from Canadian Soccer News.