Tweeting Off-Topic

It’s a big week for our country. There is a pretty important election happening in November, and after last week’s Republican National Convention, the Democrats are getting their turn in Charlotte, NC this week. For a large percentage of the country though, there is an even bigger event happening this week. That would be the return of football. Last night, the NFL kicked off its season with the Giants and Cowboys on NBC, while the rest of the league will debut this coming Sunday and Monday. As a sports fan, I can tell you that right or wrong, I’ve been more interested this week in the return of professional football than the pomp and circumstance occurring in North Carolina. I can also tell you that my Twitter stream, the majority of which is filled by sports writers, professional athletes, and other fans, has largely been more concerned with the same matter.

That makes sense to me. After all, you follow personalities and companies online expecting them to tweet about certain topics. I follow Adam Schefter for NFL transactions. I follow Peter King for player interviews and links to his articles. I follow the Boston Globe’s Patriots Twitter feed for links to stories about the New England Patriots. Sure, I might get a personal anecdote occasionally, but I’m ok with that. By and large though, I expect sports personalities to tweet about sports. This week, a large percentage of those tweets have been about the NFL. Adam Schefter has tweeted about player transactions occurring as teams make final tweaks to rosters, Peter King has tweeted his predictions for the upcoming season, and the Boston Globe’s New England Patriots handle (@GlobePatriots) has tweeted links to articles filed by Globe columnists about the Patriots. So you can imagine my surprise a few nights ago when the following tweet came across my timeline:

Like I said, I’m open to the occasional personal anecdote on Twitter. This tweet, however, didn’t make sense to me. Surprised by the total deviation in topic by the Twitter account (that’s obviously not a Patriots Update, as the Twitter handle leads followers to believe), I assumed that the social media manager for the account had accidentally tweeted the link from the wrong Twitter account. It’s not the first time such a thing has happened. The Calgary Flames are probably the most notable example of this happening before. You can find my recap of that situation, as well as my thoughts on sports franchises expressing opinions on Twitter here. Expecting the tweet to be deleted, I quickly quoted it and sent it as a reminder to other social media managers out there. Running personal and business Twitter accounts from the same device, whether that be a laptop or mobile device, is dangerous. Sometimes it takes seeing someone else’s mistake to alter one’s own communication methods.

Yet, hours later, the tweet remained. The following day, the @GlobePatriots resumed tweeting stories about the Patriots gearing up for week 1 of the regular season. That is, until last night, when, during the Giants/Cowboys NFL kickoff special, the following tweet appeared in my timeline.

This second tweet, to me, was a clear indication that the @GlobePatriots Twitter handle was tweeting #DNC2012 topics intentionally. So I sat down and thought about why an account such as this one would have sent these tweets out, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what benefits these types of tweets offer. They don’t contain links that direct back to the Boston Globe, so forget about site traffic. The information certainly isn’t relevant to all of the @GlobePatriots’ Twitter followers, so forget amplification and reach. The tweets don’t even really offer anything of substance. Sure, they’ll get the @GlobePatriots Twitter handle seen by those following the #DNC2012 hashtag, but again, the audience that’s following #DNC2012 on Twitter probably isn’t interested in Tom Brady’s latest conference call transcript or who the new center is on the offensive line.

And so, I’m stuck at square one. I’ve reached out to the Globe, via the @GlobePatriots Twitter handle, in the hope I’ll learn a bit about the strategy behind these rogue tweets. If they truly are accidents, the Globe doesn’t seem to be concerned with pulling them. If they are intentional, I’d love to know the purpose behind them.

Can you think of why an organization would tweet about topics unrelated to their general area of expertise? Do you think this was an accident by the Globe? Let me know in your comments.

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