Sports reporters might make up one of the heaviest users of Twitter among media types. It can be a tremendous resource for both the reporter and for their followers. Right now, there simply is no quicker way to pass along information to your target audience.
On the other hand, the immediate ability to relay your thoughts isn’t always such a good thing. It can be easy to alienate your audience, or turn them off when you decide to push your own opinion or agenda too far. Combine that with way too much personal information and boring mundane details of everyday life, and it’s a sure formula to get plenty of people hitting the “unfollow” button.
Readers don’t generally care about your thoughts on Jersey Shore, where you ate last night, how bad your hotel room was, or multiple retweets of news that Adam Schefter has broken ahead of you. (Note to Patriots reporters - if someone is following you, there’s a good chance they’re also following Schefter, so they got the newsflash he broke at the same moment you did.)
A BSMW reader passes along the following advice/observation:
Before hitting the tweet button, they should think, Will the random reader have any interest in this or am I just a clueless self-centered moron by sharing this? Instead, there seems to be a general feel that the followers view them as H.L. Mencken-types who are captivating figures worthy of great interest beyond the actual news and insights they’re supposed to be providing.
A little harsh, but accurate, I think.
Here are the biggest things I think sports media types should do/not do to increase their own value, and avoid turning off followers.
Keep two Twitter accounts – one for your professional life, and one for you personal life.
I’m frankly surprised that more news organizations don’t require this. If you’re Tweeting as a member of the media, you’re representing your employer, and that doesn’t stop when you decide to riff about Snooki, or reminisce about your college days with your buddies, or give us updates on your nephew’s basketball game.
Newsflash - Most people are following you because they want information and news from you. They really don’t care about you as a person, they care about you as an information source. Plain and simple.
Keeping two Twitter accounts seems like the ideal solution. You can have a professional one which is strictly your outlet for passing along information and opinions on the subject matter you cover, AND a personal one which is followed by your friends and family, where you can yak it up and tell them every detail about your life.
If two accounts seems like a hassle, there are plenty of Twitter apps that allow you to simultaneously manage multiple accounts. You can post to both right from the same interface. Even from your phone.
What’s even better is that you can make your personal account private, only allow the people you want to see the Tweets see them, and say whatever the hell you want to.
Try to refrain from whining too much on Twitter.
Yesterday was a perfect example of this. In fact, it happens on the Patriots beat in particular all the time. Even though this is on-topic for the work you do, it doesn’t reflect well on you when you’re constantly complaining about your working conditions or lack of locker room access or that they’re serving pizza in the press box, again. Let’s keep it professsional, people. Think before you Tweet.
Limit the “in jokes” among your colleagues.
We all like to tweak the people we work with from time to time. Maybe you like to make references to past embarassments or experiences that are only known to people who were there. Even though this is “on the job,” it probably belongs in your personal Twitter feed. If your account is private and so is theirs, you can call Belichick every expletive in the book, and it will be perfectly fine. Your professional followers won’t have a clue, and will still think you’re a rational, objective journalist.
Boston Sports Media Must-Follows
These folks “get it.” They keep things professional for the most part, and are highly informative. One for each of the local professional teams:
@SherrodbCSN – One of my favorites on Twitter, A. Sherrod Blakely is informative, engaging and endlessly patient with those who want to know if Rasheed Wallace is coming back.
@PeteAbe – Peter Abraham is a prolific Red Sox Tweeter, both in game and during the day. He’s opinionated, but keeps things almost exclusively baseball.
@capeleaguer – Christopher Price has it right, I think. I follow him on both Twitter and Facebook, and he uses Twitter for Patriots/Professional stuff, and Facebook for personal. Good balance.
@HackswithHaggs – Joe Haggerty is a Twitter monster. Yeah, he occasionally goes off-topic, but his Bruins information is prolific.