Social Media and Professional Sports

It’s a time of turmoil in the CuteSports household as the boyfriend graduated in December and is looking for a job. Clearly this isn’t the best time for such things and it’s been stressful. He’s currently up for a job that would require relocation and that has led me to looking for a new job as well.

The number one job on my list is with a professional sports team. As best I can tell, the job looks to be this organization’s “toe-dip” into the world of social media.

Though for a while Facebook and Twitter could be written off as sites used by kids to play games and post inappropriate pictures that would eventually get them in trouble, I think businesses are starting to understand their power and reach and are looking to see how they can incorporate them into their advertising and business model.

While I’ve seen universities, and by extension their athletic departments and sports teams, use Twitter successfully, I have to admit that I don’t know too many professional teams that are using Twitter or Facebook as effectively as they might. Obviously my interaction with teams outside my sphere is limited, so I thought I’d ask our readers.

Do you think professional teams should use social media? Do you know of any that do so effectively?

Follow the jump for thoughts on why to use Twitter and athletes using it.

But before we get into that, let me first address what I think a lot of people are asking:

Why use Twitter?

As someone who does not have internet access at work, Twitter on my Blackberry is my connection to the outside world.

It’s my 24/7 news source thanks to news feeds by CNN. It’s my comic relief thanks to tweets by Chad Ochocinco and Deadspin. Last night, it was as entertaining to read tweets about the Grammys as it was to watch it.

During this offseason Hot Stove, it’s been my source of breaking news on the Milwaukee Brewers. Their MLB.com writer as well as their own feed and the feed of the local newspaper’s Brewers beat writer have kept me current with every signing as well as constantly carrying quotes from all involved.

As a soccer fan who doesn’t get a chance to read much on the topic, following a handful of soccer writers gives me my own personal list of “quick hit” links every day.

While that’s how I use Twitter, the public access the site provides can become a problem for some of the athletes that use it.

I wrote this piece for a Brewers blog late at the end of the baseball season when the Brewers’ only verified Twitterer Seth McClung took to being pretty vocal about his doubts on returning to the team. McClung was great about responding to folks, commented about things he’d read on our site and generally was an awesome insight into the clubhouse, but it also seemed that his candor could cause problems for him with the team.

More recently he took to making jokesĀ  of the “fooled you” kind about coming back to the Brewers and then abruptly canceled his account. Of course no one knows that any of that is related, but the cancellation made me wonder if a team was showing interest and wasn’t happy with his forthright sharing.

While members of all professional sports leagues use Twitter, the NBA seems to have had the most problematic time with it.

David Stern and the NBA had to come up with a list of guidelines for players about when and how they could tweet on team hours after then Milwaukee Buck Charlie Villanueva tweeted during halftime of a game.

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love broke the news his coach Kevin McHale had been fired and Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat posted pictures of suspicious looking baggies and made a comment about life not worth living before he was checked into a rehab facility.

I follow a former Wisconsin Badger football player who’s tweets consist of talking about training, eating and going out at night. While he does talk about how he doesn’t drink, he also talks about how cool it is to be a VIP, and it makes me wonder if that NFL teams wonder. Do they bother getting concerned when all his meals seem to be fast food and all his nights are spent out at clubs, or does it not matter? Would not having a Twitter account be to his advantage?

It’s certainly not up to me to say whether or not using Twitter is a good idea. The constant access to people’s actions and thoughts is certainly a blessing and a curse. In the early days of how this media is used and affects people’s lives and jobs, how can we not wonder what the best way to use it is?

Should a professional team us it to only post links to articles, break news stories and have contests, or is there more to it than that?

Are athletes endangering themselves or their jobs by giving access to every aspect of their lives from their dinner to pictures of their children?

How much access is too much access?

One thought on “Social Media and Professional Sports

  1. Personally, I think the Jays do a pretty good job of social networking, at least in their use of Twitter. It helps that they’re owned by a media company and that the Jays blogosphere is arguably the most robust and diverse in MLB.

    I’m currently trying to land a social media job in the theatre world and we’ve had a lot of discussion around how to effectively use it. The key element seems to be that audiences want to feel involved, part of the experience. For an overview, I highly recommend Rebecca Coleman’s blog, The Art of the Biz. She’s a freelance marketer and publicist with great insight and an easy to read style.

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