Ever since the launch of Facebook in 2004 and Twitter just two years later, nothing has ever been the same. Through social media we’ve been able to connect with old and new friends alike, share our voices and opinions for all the world to see, and discover new ways to communicate and interact with each other all from behind a computer screen.
It’s also drastically changed how we view, consume, and experience sports and pop culture. Logging into Twitter has become as pivotal to an entertainment experience as turning on your television to watch it. From hashtags and memes to trending topics and kickstarters, social media has become a driver for entertainment, activism, and everything that falls in between.
We’ve seen beefs between celebrities get started over tweets. We’ve delighted in tender moments shared via Instagram posts. We’ve heard musicians blow up over night because of a Soundcloud song. We’ve connected with friends from the past and in entirely different countries through Facebook. All of these things were merely beginning to exist a decade ago.
Join us as we look at how social media has impacted our world – from its greatest moments and events, to what its future holds. This is Social Media Week.
All tweets are not created equal.
The good tweets are useful, compelling and oftentimes funny. The bad tweets are mundane, annoying and make you want slap their creators upside the head.
You string enough good tweets together and you end up building a following. You build a big enough following and you start to influence the most relevant conversations. Once you become an influencer you have people like me bugging you for advice.
Here’s what 15 of the most influential names in #sportstwitter had to say when I asked them about their social media do’s, don’ts and favorite moments.
The survey participants:
- Shea Serrano, staff writer, The Ringer
- Sreekar Jasthi, growth expert and self-proclaimed inconsistent writer
- Kofie Yeboah, social media producer, SB Nation
- The Doctor Carson, artist and content swingman, formerly of Fox Sports & Bleacher Report
- Jeff Eisenband, associate editor, ThePostGame
- Rob Cressy, founder, Bacon Sports, Infield Chatter video host
- Oliver Maroney, basketball writer, Dime Magazine, BIG3 Show host
- Eric Fawcett, writer, Gator Country, Press Basketball contributor
- Alexandra Makal, Baseball Aficionado™
- Adam Howes, site administrator, Bulls on Parade
- Patrick Fenelon, host, Land of Ten Thousand Takes
- Adi Joseph, deputy managing editor, CBS Sports
- Andrew Hammond, writer and analyst, The Associated Press
- Amanda Busick, pit reporter, Fox Sports & NHRA
- Vaughn Johnson, sports content producer, Philly.com Sports
What’s your one tip for being good at twitter dot com?
Kofie: You have to be creative and original.
Also, you don’t have to do the most all the time. Some of my most viral tweets are so simple and relatable, but they go so far because everyone gets the joke or relates to the tweet.
Don’t be afraid to be weird either and step out of the box. This is social media. If you have an idea let it fly. If it sticks, it sticks and if it doesn’t, you just keep it moving.
Carson: Learn from others, but don’t try to be them.
Tweaking your brand and voice is part of finding your way on social media. A mistake that I and everyone else at one point or another make while navigating this process is seeing someone else’s style flourish and reactively trying to incorporate too much of that brand into our own.
That will leave you constantly playing catch-up and behind the curve. Moreover, you’ll sound weird and inauthentic, and people will pick up on it. Borrow joke structures here and there, and observe what works for others, but at the end of the day, you have to be confident enough to put your thoughts and personality out there and trust there are people who feel the same and will appreciate you. Scared money don’t make money.
Eisenband: Be original, not reactionary.
When a play or event happens in sports, don’t always just tweet your first thought. Over-positive tweets like, “What a play!” don’t have much content to them. Over-negative tweets like, “That was a terrible play,” are just annoying. Why did something happen? What does it mean? Who was involved. Be informative and clever. Don’t stall, but take a second to gather your thoughts and give the sports world something that may not be obvious.
Also, one technical pro tip: Use full names and good keywords when possible. Try to get yourself into Twitter search. If you write out Kyrie Irving, you can be in the “Kyrie” and “Kyrie Irving” search, but if you just say Kyrie, you’re limiting that search feature.
Makal: Don’t try too hard.
Be natural, tweet what you know and what you’re passionate about. You’ll generate more views/interaction when it’s genuine.
Sreekar: It’s not a revolutionary tip by any means, but I think it’s important – just be online when it matters.
That means big games, big trades, etc. At this point, I’m mostly on Twitter to get my news and fire off jokes. I know that dozens of people often have the same thoughts so to make any sort of mark it’s important to be timely and have your pulse on ongoing events. Twitter has definitely enhanced my sports-viewing experience because I can simultaneously watch a game, read people’s (often hot) takes on it, and jump on key trending moments.
Hammond: Stay on top of stuff and know your facts before making a statement.
Someone can easily come back and prove you are wrong. Also, actually watch the games. Seeing stuff on Twitter and then commenting can only go so far.
Busick: Know your target audience and speak directly to them – essentially in their voice.
As opposed to sharing a link from a story with a “Read This” post, use your copy to share a sexy (in terms of catchy/juicy) snidbit that will engage your base and inspire further reading.
Howes: Well I’m not a ‘pro’ by any stretch of the word, but if I have learned one thing about being successful on Twitter, it is timing. If you’re away from the app when something big happens in sport, it’s likely you won’t be able to ride that wave later on.
Also, stay in your lane and find what works for you. Much like with sports writing, having your own voice with your tweets is important. Don’t try to be something you’re not.
Fenelon: Number one tip for being good at sports twitter? I often say this in jest, but it’s actually true to some extent: never stop posting.
Unless you’re a writer with an audience through a different outlet, the only way to attain influence on this site (not that that’s been the goal of my tweeting; I tweet because I enjoy talking to people on here) is to interact with people, and to do it a lot. And…that’s basically what I’ve done. There’s no real trick to it.
What’s your biggest social media pet peeve?
Serrano: I don’t like when people are mean to me. It hurts my feelings.
Johnson: My biggest pet peeve is the constant hot takes we see on social media and the lack of tolerance to a different opinion.
You see this a lot in wrestling where there can become a group-think mentality and if you don’t agree then you must be stupid.
Fawcett: My biggest pet peeve, and this is specific to sports Twitter, would be people who feel like they need to prove their knowledge by getting in, and presumably “winning,” every argument.
In sports Twitter, there seems to be a lot of ego and people are constantly battling with each other for intellectual superiority. I could be wrong, but I think it just shows a lot of self-consciousness and I find it really off-putting. Other pet peeves would include people who retweet too much stuff and clog up the timeline, and also when people post Instagram links to their photos… I assure you, I am never opening someone’s Instagram link when it requires a whole new window to be opened. Maybe I’m in the minority there.
Maroney: My biggest pet peeve is probably when people take photos, videos, or full thoughts without giving credit.
With that being said, there are certain ways that people will not even know someone else was discussing or talking about the point. But, if you have seen someone else discuss or post a topic before you and you essentially copy and paste the same idea at least give them a shoutout.
Secondly, I’m always confused when accounts report news (hours later sometimes) and don’t just retweet the account originally tweeting it. I think it’s piggybacking on someone else’s scoop for your own benefit. If you confirm the report or actually were in the “know”, fine. I understand there are many that want to be news breakers but if you’re not actually breaking news then why tweet it out and frame it that way?
Joseph: People who get personal in disagreements. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. Stop.
Sreekar: I try not to take Twitter too seriously but one group of people that’s mildly annoying are the ones who quote-tweet and add barely anything to the tweet they’re quoting.
We’ve all seen them – a quote-tweet of a joke with nothing but “lol” or a laughing-with-tears emoji. My rule is simple: either add something of value or retweet that shit.
Carson: Quote tweet arguments and the gifting of platforms to trash people.
Sometimes you have to give a dude the full clip, but reflexively quote-shading every shit-heel who disagrees with you about Lonzo Ball’s ceiling clutters the timeline and makes you look thin-skinned and easily goaded. Also, in the aftermath of any tragic situation, there are going to be assholes who use it as an opportunity to put on their cynical seersucker and post some callous garbage. And often, they’re nobodies just looking for a shred of recognition in a world passing them by. Don’t screenshot their vapid bullshit and post it for outrage interactions. They’re not worth it.
Eisenband: Pat Muldowney of The Ringer (formerly Fox Sports and ESPN) writes in his Twitter bio, “Stop being a jerk online to people you don’t know.”
This sounds obvious, but much of sports Twitter does not abide by this. It’s OK to disagree with people, but you don’t have to be mean. If you want to engage with a Twitter influencer, bring up a good point, don’t just tell them their take is bulls***. I love engaging with followers or non-followers when they bring up a counter-point. I don’t go on Twitter and assume I’m right about everything. It’s the people who just want to tell me I’m dumb and not engage who annoy me. And I’m just talking about Twitter. Facebook is worse. People unleash vicious comments and go after other readers like wild animals. On ThePostGame account, every time we share a national anthem protest image, the back-and-forth between readers gets ugly, and I know that is not just something we are seeing.
Cressy: Brands that use hashtags on Facebook (and most of the time if they are using them on #Facebook then they #are using #more than one #in #their #post.)
Hashtags aren’t native to the platform and make the post look spammy and not-authentic.
Makal: I HATE when there’s a big news story happening and a bunch of people are in your mentions going “huh?”
1. It’s all over the news, trending topics and likely my Twitter page.
2. I am not Google.
What’s your favorite social media moment of all-time?
Carson: The Banana Boat. Hands down.
Sreekar: As someone who’s been active on NBA Twitter for a few years now, one of my favorite days was the DeAndre Jordan free agency/hostage situation, when he supposedly “signed” with the Mavericks before the Clippers met with him and changed his mind.
It was simply a peak NBA Twitter moment, with everything you can want – high-stakes free agency, memes that even the players were getting in on (I’ll never forget when Paul Pierce went full AARP and tweeted an image of an emoji), Mark Cuban getting angry, and lots and lots of Clippers jokes. There have been many memorable NBA Twitter moments in the last few years, but that one was truly one-of-a-kind.
Joseph: The DeAndre Jordan-Mavericks-Clippers standoff was like an entire day of being mesmerized.
I’m not sure sports has or will ever leverage social media quite so effectively again. Rudy Gobert saying Paul Pierce was tweeting from a Gameboy Color will stay with me until I die.
Maroney: Man, that is so tough!
I loved @sreekyshooter’s tweet on Gregg Popovich, it was hilarious. If we’re talking about my social media then most recently, I enjoyed posting the Chandler Parsons, Joel Embiid picture (after he signed the big extension) extremely early. I sign up for some players social notifications and Parsons and Embiid were both on that list. So when I saw that picture and laughed out loud, I knew it’d be a hit. Other than that, the four-point shot competitions in the BIG3 were a ton of fun to record and cover.
Serrano: I met the woman who runs the Spurs Twitter account.
Cressy: I have 2 favorite moments.
1. When Rob Lowe broke the news that Peyton Manning was retiring.
2. Manti Te’o getting catfished.
Kofie: There are so many, but the LeBron James block in game 7 was incredible for the timeline.
There were so many funny memes and tweets that still get made to this day. It was an instant classic.
Makal: I don’t think I have a specific favorite social media moment of all-time, but I truly love watching the timeline during a big game, whether it be game 7 of the NBA finals or a pivotal early March Madness upset.
There’s something about that moment and knowing the shock and awe can’t be replicated.
Howes: I’ve seen some awesome moments go down on Twitter, so many in fact it’s difficult to lock down one.
From a personal standpoint I have a lot of faves, from this thread I put together going berserk to this being re-tweeted by Chance the Rapper. However, top of the list would be interacting with former Chicago Bull, Bill Wennington on Twitter many moons ago. The interaction led to an invite onto center court at the United Center, a visit to the Bulls locker-room, being personally introduced to Carlos Boozer and I now count Bill as a friend who I always try and catch up with when I visit Chicago. Pretty cool sequence of events for a life long Bulls fan who grew up watching him play alongside Michael, Scottie and the Worm.
Hammond: Twitter reacting to the Bin Laden death, anything in the NBA after 2009, and the emergence of sports on Twitter.
Johnson: I’m not sure if I have a favorite social media moment of all-time. There are way too many to count.
Fawcett: My favorite thing about Twitter is that there seems to be new incredible moments every couple days.
Memes and Twitter subculture are constantly evolving and it makes for new, amazing sports moments every day. I love the big sports events for Twitter, especially the Super Bowl, March Madness, and the NBA playoffs. The Olympics are usually pretty cool, but obviously they don’t happen as often and the crackdown on people posting video and GIFs from the Olympics severely limits the great content that can be made. If I had to say one event that happened recently that was a great social media moment, and this will be as close to politics that I get, it has to be the “covfefe” incident. The way Twitter universally lit up with jokes about it was incredible.
Busick: On New Year’s Day this year I committed myself to a sunrise hike to kick off 2017.
At 5:30 a.m. I headed up Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles and in the distance saw the Hollywood sign had been changed to Hollyweed. Laughing, I snapped a photo, tweeted it and headed on my way. My phone died on the hike and by the time I made it back to my car the post had over 1,000 RT’s on it in less than an hour! The post would go on to be featured on every major network across the country and even the BBC! Aside from the reach of the post, I was actually just really proud that I followed through with the hike that started with a 4:45am alarm… as they say though, the early bird gets the worm though!
Eisenband: I’m going to have to bring up something very personal to me.
In July 2016, Katie Nolan had a segment on “Garbage Time” called “NFL Show & Tell,” where she talked about what players did in their offseason. She pulled a clip of me interviewing Drew Brees at the NFL Draft that year, where Brees was working with Tempur-Pedic. We did the interview on a mattress, and when Nolan used the clip, she joked Brees was “talking to a kid, explaining how sex works.” I rallied some of my friends and we tweeted at Katie for the next 48 hours that I was more than a kid. I happened to be at the PGA Championship that week and I got Darren Rovell to tweet her a photo of us, saying that I was “very much a man.” I was having fun with the whole thing because I was a huge fan of “Garbage Time” and had already been quoted as saying I looked up to Katie. She eventually responded, asking for Brees’ sex tips. None of this engagement happens in the pre-social media era.
Fenelon: Favorite thing to happen on this site? Llama chase.
Nothing has comes close to that. If anyone reading this doesn’t know what I’m talking about, stop what you’re doing and Google “llama chase” right now. Go. Now.