I try to follow athletes on Twitter. I say try, because, to tell you the truth, it can actually be pretty painful. If I had to guess, I’d say that I’ve probably unfollowed 10 times more athletes than I actively follow.
It’s a simple fact that many athletes gain a large following due to their sports accomplishments, but that doesn’t actually mean they are interesting on Twitter.
But it’s not too late for an athlete to make changes. There’s still hope with the right approach.
Caring for your Twitter reputation is like caring for a puppy that never gets older. It takes time, attention, nurturing and careful oversight!
Here are my “Tough Love” tips for athletes on Twitter:
Be authentic. That phrase gets thrown out easily, but its marketing-speak for staying true to your personality. Athletes have to show there is more to them than just great athletic talent. Whether it be cooking, hunting, fishing, music, family, etc., athletes shouldn’t hesitate to be themselves.
Focus on the WHY vs. the WHAT. Any follower can easily read about the results of your last competition. What we really want to know is who you are and why you think the way you do! Tweeting the WHAT gives us a log book of your trip to the coffee shop, tweeting the WHY gives us insight into you and lets us know what makes you tick.
Be the Color Commentator Not the Play-by-Play Guy. Another way to think about the tip above is like watching a sports broadcast. The play-by-play announcer will share that you are going to the coffee shop, but the color commentator will give viewers insight as to why. Give your followers YOUR “why” – something they can’t get from anyone else.
Pitch Products Carefully. We also know when you are promoting a product. Be honest with us if you do. A positive example includes tweeting “behind the scenes” pics at a photo shoot. That tells me you have a relationship with Company X, but you are giving me an insider view. I think that’s a win in content. It is now the norm to build a social media commitment into corporate deals so it just needs to be as natural as possible. None of us want our tweets to come across like this below (at 2:00+):
Be guarded. This advice may seem at odds with earlier advice and sometimes it can be. It’s just reality of the “gotcha” world we live in today. A peek inside your world is more provocative than showing the whole thing. Keep them wanting more!
Be PG. We all have a good feel for what constitutes a movie rated PG. You can sometimes push it to PG-13, but unless you are a stand-up comedian, never be rated R.
Write for Yourself. We all smell it when a PR group is writing for you. It’s ok to get help, but always make sure it’s in your own voice.
Chill on the Birthday RTs. You make one person happy and annoy the other 99.9% of your followers. If you want to engage with fans then pick select tweets to reply to and add something insightful or an unknown fact about yourself. Fan engagement is one of the great tools that Twitter has to offer – just be smart in how you choose to engage with others.
Know the Lingo. You don’t have to be a Twitter expert to be successful on Twitter but you should learn the nuts and bolts of how the platform works. Know that a RT shows up for all your followers to see but know that if you reply to a tweet, most of your followers will not see it unless they follow the person you are replying too. There are plenty of Twitter resources online so be sure to read up if you need to.
Be Interesting. Easier said than done, but the worst sin is to be boring. You will get unfollows and never know why.
I know many people might expect me to name names with this blog, and I realize that it would probably drive more traffic. But I’m not going to do that. I feel I can make the point just as effectively with general examples.
If you feel I should follow you, please let me know. I will try – just be sure to keep it interesting. I think you know what might happen if you’re not…
Note: For the first installment of the developing “Tough Love Marketing” series, find my previous blog of 5 Biggest Mistakes in Youth Sports Sponsorship