Never be afraid to learn from others
Always be adaptable.
Be ready, in season and out of season.
Change is inevitable in life. And, in work. The best laid plans don’t always work out so one needs to be ready to “change” those plans at a moment’s notice. That’s why it’s important to be adaptable. Be ready for that call to the bullpen to save the day.
That defines today for me.
I had two guests lined up for the final installment of my social media-sports (#SMsports) Q&A. I thought it would be a great way to wrap up what has been a great learning experience from me. The two guests were athletes (or former athletes) who would have brought a very unique perspective to the discussion questions below.
Instead, you have…me.
That’s right. Me!
Don’t call me Mariano. Don’t call me Eck. Heck, don’t even call me “Brenda Lee Johnson”. But, alas, I am this week’s…CLOSER!
Hope you enjoy
1. Please tell me a little bit of your background and how it relates to sports.
Sports fan. Social media enthusiast.
I am a sports fan who turned her love of sports & social media into a career as a writer. Before social media, fans only had radio call-in shows or message boards to voice their opinions on sports. Problem was, the more outrageous or idiotic the fan opinion, the more likely that voice was heard (or read). It drove me crazy that the “fanatics” were the ones who got noticed. They gave fans a bad name.
I wanted to have a voice but I had no outlet for it. Then along came Twitter.
2. What was the first social media outlet that you used?
I never did MySpace. At least, not that I recall. If I did, it was after people started gravitating toward Facebook. I was one of the first in my family to join Facebook. When I’d tell them I’m on Facebook, they’d have that confused look that people used to or still have about Twitter.
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.
Twitter is my dominant social network. I call myself a Twitter sports reporter so it should be my #1. Now that I’m unemployed, I’ve had more time to devote to all of the other social networks on a personal level. Professionally, I’m doing some side social media work for free so I’m on Facebook for that account. I also find myself on LinkedIn quite a bit too.
I don’t really have a preference or least favorite for any one of those over the other. I’m intrigued by the capabilities of Vine during live sporting events. Standing on the sideline and shoot a quick video of a play can turn it into an automatic GIF. I don’t know how to make a GIF otherwise so that’s probably why I like Vine.
Google+ really, really intrigues me. Last year, I felt like 2013 was going to bring an explosion in video content. We’ve seen that with Vine and Instagram. Google+, with the Hangout capability, is seeing some growth this year too. It can take personal interaction between fans/athletes or fans/media to a whole new level. I’ve only participated in 1 hangout – didn’t show my face though. I expect Google+’s growth to continue on into 2014.
3. What were the primary motives for your engagement in social media?
With Facebook, it was because it was the “thing” to do way back when (2008). I was hearing about it and thought, okay, why not? But, as I stated in #1, then along came Twitter.
Twitter was the next “thing”. My original intent wasn’t sports. It was actually to find out about online shopping deals. I’m someone that hates going shopping so online shopping was where it was at for me. But, I discovered sports news on Twitter. My focus quickly changed.
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?
At this point in the social media game, Twitter is the best place to be during sporting events. For me, I utilize Twitter lists and multiple accounts to keep track of the latest news and commentary. This enables me to see the big picture of what’s going on. I know what people are talking about or will be talking about as it’s happening. I see the Twitter conversations between fans, fans/media, media/media, athletes/fans, athletes/media. It’s a fascinating study in human relations and psychology. All dividing lines between all of these dynamics have been obliterated because of 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?
I’ve been on Twitter since August 2009. Biggest changes is the simple rise of Twitter itself. Sports, I feel, has been instrumental to its growth. The main reason why I went into this business is because of what I saw early on. I could tell that it was a vehicle for sharing sports news. When respected national sports writers start following you because of the information you’re sharing through a simple RT (retweet), you know there is something to it.
Drawbacks? The aforementioned Twitter conversations in #4…yeah, those.
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 reasoning please)? Do you have a top 5 of Twitter accounts to follow (sports or non-sports)? If so, who are they?
Value? For someone who has been on Twitter for a long time like me, the lists are pointless. Lists like these are similar to people telling you how to “do” Twitter. Yes, there are things I don’t like that people “do” on Twitter but I try not to tell them how to “do” it. As for following accounts on SI’s list? Not many. Follow who you want to follow. Follow someone. If you don’t like what they’re tweeting, unfollow. The majority of SI’s list…blah. The lack of Hispanic/Latino perspective was disappointing.
Now list instead of follow some of those accounts? Yes. As a Twitter sports reporter, I still need to be aware of what those accounts are saying, if anything. Lists are my favorite thing to use, aside from TweetDeck and HootSuite.
I keep my Twitter follows around 500 people at all times. I use my Twitter timeline as a news feed. If I follow too many more than that, I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Someone once told me I’m using it like the old news-ticker. I have no idea what that is but, okay. People may be offended if I don’t follow them back but I can’t afford to go too far beyond 500.
Top 5? No. That’s why I rarely do the #FF, Friday Follows. Follow who you want. List who you want.
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)?
Personally, I haven’t dealt with much negativity directed toward me. I have, however, seen more than my fair share, your fair share and your surrounding neighborhood’s fair share. As social media has grown, so has the negativity. In addition to considering Twitter the world’s largest sports bar, it could also be called the world’s largest message board. Facebook is right there with Instagram not far behind in those descriptions.
There have been times where I’ve taken a break from Twitter and social media in general. I’ve also found myself not wanting to share as much personal information as I did before, not that I did it much to begin with. TweetDeck filters are my social media salvation. During controversial social media times like political season, eliminating certain terms makes it much more tolerable.
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?
I’ve been trying to use the hashtag, #SportsDoingGood, in tweets. I want to highlight the good that people are doing with or through sports. I think of something like Grassroots Soccer which is an organization that is using soccer to help fight AIDS/HIV. Or, how baseball players like Jeremy Affeldt or teams like the SF Giants and LA Dodgers who are/were all involved with the group Not For Sale this year, which helps to fight against human trafficking. I was recently introduced to Sports & Social Change by Mario Lopez (@LatinoSportsGuy) and Yuwa Football by Karen Popli (@KP031). They are out there but it’s up to each one of us to spread their stories, socially.
The negative stories get the publicity because “we” are attracted to it. Negativity “sells”. Negativity garners ratings. It’s up to us to share the positive stories. We have control.
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?
Predicting where sports-social media goes is a crapshoot. I do see video’s presence increasing in some fashion. Whether it is through hangouts on Google+, increased video length on Instagram and Vine or some other outlet, I see video increasing this next year. The question is will technology in stadiums for live-action video to be shared.
I also expect social data to become a crucial element not from a fan perspective but for leagues, teams, and maybe even athletes. They will want to know how effective their social media campaigns have been and data could provide the ROI they’re looking for. Currently, however, the social data market is pretty fragmented. Time will have to sort that out.
There are new apps out there now that I’m trying or would love to try in sports. The innovation coming through is truly remarkable. I expect more of that to continue.
Question for me is, will there be such a thing as too much?
9. Any final comments you’d like to add?
Unfortunately, I did not hear back from the guest(s) I originally had planned for today. So, I apologize if anyone was disappointed in me as the guest. I’m glad I could fill in at the last-minute. Not as attractive a name but, hey, you have to take one for the team sometimes, right?
Thank you to everyone who read and shared this series on social media this week. They were a great learning experience for me. Very informative if I do say so myself.
And, fun. Until next time, I am