This is a guest blog post from one of my dear friends @gtechdvd. Hope you enjoy.
Twitter owes a large amount of its success to the general population’s obsession with celebrities. In fact, Hollywood stars such as Ashton Kutcher and Jimmy Fallon could be credited with igniting the 140 character long flame that is sweeping across the country. As Twitter continued to gain popularity though, athletes became the next group of celebrities that began making shock waves in the social media world.
Twitter became the ideal social media site for athletes for a few key reasons. Unlike Facebook (before fan pages), Twitter allows users to follow someone without making a ‘two-way connection,’ that is, the celebrity or athlete will not be overwhelmed with updates from people they do not know. Other reasons athletes bypassed the Facebook bandwagon is the friend number restriction and the possibility of users tagging them in scandalous photos. We can only imagine the excitement we missed out on by not having access to Tiger Woods’ tagged photos. “Hey babe. Can you do me a huge favor? Untag me in that Vegas pool party album as soon as possible. Thanks.”
Twitter features athletes across all major sports. From Tony Hawk to Dwayne Wade, many prominent athletes connect not only with fans, but with other athletes, through Twitter. If you had to guess what sport featured the most Twitterific athletes, could you? I’ll give you a hint. This sport features the most diva-like and, possibly the most self-centered athletes in the world. Nope, not WWE, we’re talking the National Basketball Association. Basketball superstars such as Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash, and the tweeting giant Shaquille O’Neal make NBA athletes the most accessible in the world. The league has even had problems with Twitter and is now fining players for tweeting too close to game time or before finishing post-game interviews with local media. Even though NBA players constitute the largest group of tweeting millionaires, the most entertaining tweetalete resides in the NFL, in Cincinnati of all places.
The Bengals’ Chad Ochocinco (OGOchocinco) uses Twitter for all of its capabilities. Ochocinco currently has over 570,000 followers and has recorded more than 12,000 updates. Ochocinco represents the proper way for athletes and their leagues to use this social media opportunity. He is able to connect with fans by posting pictures, funny thoughts and insights from games, and even opportunities to meet him for a free movie or dinner. Of course, he also promotes his clothing line and software applications. Twitter has given him access to over half a million potential customers and fans.
All in all, twitter may just be another online fad. It might change faces, colors, and capabilities. The important thing is that Twitter and the social media age we are in present a great opportunity for athletes, fans, and more importantly, their leagues. These media avenues are the future, and the community outreach, connections, and revenue that they can bring need to be welcomed and used by professional sports leagues. Once the old-fashioned sport executives realize this, former methods of sports media might as well ‘kiss da baby’ (see OGOchocinco’s past tweets for definition).