The Value Of Twitter In Sports And Why The Platform Matters

This article is part of Sports Business Chronicle’s regular Career column.

It was the final week of my first year of law school, and I still didn’t have an internship lined up for the summer of 2012. Until that point, my industry experiences included an eight-week internship at the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association and a very abbreviated stint with the Nashville Predators. The notion of obtaining a summer gig at a sports agency, which had been my focus throughout the entire year, was fading quickly.

So, naturally as I scrolled through Twitter that April, I remember noticing a back-and-forth exchange between now friend and mentor Darren Heitner and one of his Twitter followers. The other person suggested to Darren that he have a student intern compile some agent/agency-related information into various spreadsheets, which could then be a downloadable resource for the industry. At the time, Darren and I had traded a handful of emails, with me unsuccessfully pitching him story ideas for his website SportsAgentBlog.com.

As I saw the conversation unfold, I had a light-bulb moment. Yes, putting data into spreadsheets is easy, but was anyone else going to notice the Twitter exchange? Why couldn’t that be me? Now was the perfect opportunity to provide value to Darren.

You can see below part of the Twitter conversation with Darren that ultimately led me to creating a handful of Excel spreadsheets around the NFL, NBA and MLB Drafts in 2012 and 2013.

The spreadsheet work turned into me writing for SportsAgentBlog.com from 2012 to the end of 2014 and co-authoring 25-30 Forbes SportsMoney Blog articles with Darren … all of which started from a single Tweet.

I highlight this story because it’s just one example of the power of Twitter and how not only students but professionals can utilize the platform for their own benefit and to benefit others.

Below are some additional ways I’ve leveraged Twitter, key learnings and a few suggestions for those students trying to jump-start their use of the medium.

1) A day before I had an in-person interview for what would be my first full-time position at Atlanta-based CSE Talent, former Florida State defensive back and now current host on Stadium Bryant McFadden broke the news of then-Georgia running back Todd Gurley’s ACL injury. From preparing for the interview, I knew that CSE Talent actually represented McFadden and as a result, I purposefully Tweeted the below, hoping that it may grab the attention of the agency. The next day, it was one of the first talking points during my interview.

Lessons: You can certainly utilize the platform as a passive consumer of content, but if you’re going to regularly post, be strategic and calculated with what you post, how you post and when you post. Follow industry professionals, fellow students and other like-minded individuals around your areas of interest. Hashtags such as #sportsbiz, #smsports, #sportstech and #digisport, among others, are good to follow for staying updated on what’s happening across the industry.

One tidbit for engaging with a professional on Twitter would be to ask insightful questions based off their Tweets and comments. You’ll cut through the clutter, stand out and hopefully engage in a back-and-forth conversation with them on the platform.

2) It sounds like common sense but still needs to be said because dozens of students don’t actually do this: write out a bio. If you engage with a professional and he or she clicks on your Twitter handle because you’ve grabbed their attention, you’d want them to know who you are, right? I’d suggest including at least your name, school, major and some of your prior sports experiences. It doesn’t have to be too formal.

3) I get this question from time to time … Do I need a professional and personal account? I did this for about six months in law school, and it was more of an annoyance. I’d suggest having one account. You can still maintain some semblance of professionalism while letting your personality shine through via your Tweets.

4) Twitter chats are, in my opinion, one of the best ways to use the platform. I can trace dozens of close connections and friends in the industry to some previous Twitter interactions around the now-dormant Sport Job Chat. Based on the below poll, others have also developed close relationships via Twitter.

If you’re a student and young sports business professional, the weekly Twitter chat #YPSportsChat (Young Professionals) on Tuesdays at 9pm ET is a valuable resource. In addition, there’s other weekly ones like #Social4TixSales (Ticket sales, Tuesdays at 9pm ET), #SCAChat (Small college athletics, Sundays at 9pm ET) and #SIDAChat (Athletic communications, Mondays at 9pm ET).

Here’s the way I typically navigated these chats: I actively engaged in the discussion and usually had Hootsuite open to follow along certain industry keywords and the accompanying chat hashtag. If a person said something noteworthy, I’d Direct Message that individual after the chat or email them and let them know what I thought was particularly interesting about what they said. Then, if I heard back from them, I’d try and set up a introductory call so I could learn more about their career, educational background, current job, future ambitions, etc (more or less an informational interview). It sounds like a daunting process, but it’s one of the ways I’ve been able to take the online conversation offline and develop some meaningful relationships. Hopefully, you will find some success with that approach, too.

*****

INTERNSHIPS (Paid/For-Credit)

  1. USA Football (Paid Sales Intern); Spring/Summer 2018; Indianapolis, 40 hours/week
  2. Nashville Predators (For-Credit Hockey Ops Intern); 2018-19 season; Nashville, 40 hours/week
  3. Philadelphia Soul (For-Credit Comms/Community Relations Intern); Summer 2018; Philadelphia, 20-40 hours/week
  4. Wasserman (For-Credit Social Media Intern); Summer 2018; Carlsbad, Calif., 20 hours/week
  5. Erie SeaWolves (Paid/For-Credit Sales Associate); Spring 2018; Erie, Penn., 20-40 hours/week

About Mark J. Burns

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