My Three Words for 2013

Let’s get a few things straightened out right away. I use this space to write about the intersection of sports and social media. This blog post has nothing to do with social media. It has nothing to do with sports. It has everything to do with getting better in 2013. If you aren’t interested in that, I won’t blame you for closing this page and spending your time elsewhere.

Still here? Excellent.

This may come as a shock to you, but sometime between the recent increase of Boflex TV infomercials and outdoor signage for discounted gym memberships, the idea of New Years resolutions came to my mind. When it comes to resolutions, most people likely fall into one of two camps: either they despise the idea of resolutions, or they set unrealistic resolutions that are difficult to stick with for a month, never mind a full year. Others, like myself, jump from one camp to the other.

This year, I was president of the unrealistic resolutions camp. I had a laundry list of things I wanted to do this year. I wanted to learn instruments and languages. I wanted to earn promotions and more money. I wanted to be physically fit and be a more fit husband. Basically, I wanted to be perfect.

Then I read Chris Brogan’s post titled “My Three Words for 2012.” The premise is simple: Chris picks three words every year that help him better focus his goals and efforts. If you want to learn more about the process, you can (and I recommend that you do) read his entire post here.

Inspired by Chris, I scrapped my long list of resolutions, and in their place, have thought up three words that I want to guide me in 2013.

1) Confidence: Do you know what my first thought was when I originally created my laundry list of resolutions? “I won’t be able to do this.” You don’t have to be a genius to know that’s a bad attitude to have when starting something. For years, I’ve suffered from low self-esteem and a belief that all others are better than myself. But do you know what happens when you believe that? It becomes true. That’s a bad outcome, and it doesn’t have to be that way. In 2013, it won’t. In 2013, I resolve to believe in myself. Believe in my opinions, my efforts, my abilities, and my intelligence. In 2013, I’m going to be confident.

2) Focus: Do you know who multi-tasks? Everyone. Do you know who isn’t very good at multi-tasking? Everyone. Like a lot of people, I think I’m pretty good at multi-tasking, and like a lot of people, I’m wrong. I used to multi-task because I felt inefficient if I didn’t. If you’re not putting 100% of your energy into something though, you’re worse than inefficient; you’re wasting your time. So in 2013, I’m going to focus. I’m not going to answer emails while I write blog posts. I’m not going to check my company’s Facebook or Twitter feeds when someone walks into my office to ask me a question. On the other hand, will I check Twitter while watching sports on TV? Absolutely. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

3) Tebow: TWIST! I bet you didn’t see that word coming. Look, I know Tim Tebow hasn’t played a meaningful role in a football game in over a year, and I know he’s talked about too much by the national media. I also know that’s he’s always handled himself professionally in front of the media, has always seen his larger role in life, and has always been positive when faced with adversity. We could use a little more of that in this world. So this year, I want to be a little more like Tebow. I want to stay above the low level gossip that makes its way into the office on a day-to-day basis. I want to take the high road when faced with a conflict and realize that in the grand scheme of things, it likely isn’t that important. Am I striving to be a saint? No. Even Tim Tebow has his breaking point. I just want to be a better person, with a more positive outlook on life and a bigger vision.

So there you go. Confidence. Focus. Tebow. Three words I plan on using in 2013 to become a better person. Like Chris asked in his original blog post, I’d love to know what three words you could come up with to focus your goals in 2013. If you feel like sharing, I welcome your comments below.

Here’s to a more confident, focused, and Tebowy 2013.

Should Professional Franchises Express Opinions on Twitter?

This past February, the Calgary Flames found themselves in the midst of a Twitter crisis. As news spread that Edmonton Oilers forward Ales Hemsky would be receiving a new contract, a tweet went out from the Calgary Flames official Twitter feed that was less than professional.

The Flames quickly addressed the matter by removing the tweet and issuing an apology. Then, later that day, they addressed the problem directly on their website by explaining that the Social Media manager intended to tweet from his personal account, but accidentally sent the tweet from the Flames’ official account.

Accidental tweets aren’t a new phenomenon in the sports world. After all, when discussing sports, we’re often talking about emotionally charged individuals with the power to immediately reach millions of fans and journalists. In 2012 alone, we’ve seen accidental or controversial tweets from Sean Locklear of the Washington Redskins and Delonte West of the Dallas Mavericks, as well as former Cleveland Browns beat writer Tony Grossi, who tweeted “He is a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world” regarding Browns owner Randy Lerner. The tweet, like so many others, was meant to be a direct message intended for a colleague rather than public consumption.

So when news spread yesterday of Tim Tebow’s trade to the New York Jets, causing a Twitter explosion of news and opinions on the trade, it should have been expected that we’d be subjected to an accidental tweet. It seemed that we got one too, when the Washington Redskins official Twitter account tweeted the following opinion yesterday afternoon:

Yet 15 minutes after the tweet, it became clear it was no accident. Not only did the Redskins not delete the tweet, they defended it, twice. While that means we can’t add the Redskins to the list of organizations delivering accidental tweets, we can examine them as a unique sports organization that shares opinions on Twitter.

The Redskins, like other organizations, rely on a single person to manage team social media channels, and that’s ok. Additionally, one can assume that any person managing social media for a professional sports organization is a sports fan, and thus has opinions about signings, transactions and other happenings; and that’s ok too. When those elements are added together incorrectly, however, a team can end up in danger.

Social media managers need to remember that they aren’t just voicing their own opinion when using a platform like Twitter. Rather, they represent the entire organization or brand. In the case of the Redskins, that means players, coaches and front office personnel. Does head coach Mike Shanahan think Tebow and the Jets is an awkward fit? What about team owner Daniel Snyder? Maybe they do and maybe they don’t, I don’t know. What I do know is that the Redskins social media manager didn’t either. I also know that even if Snyder and Shanahan did believe the Tebow trade didn’t make a lot of sense for the New York Jets, they certainly wouldn’t publish that information on any public platform.

Tweeting opinions, especially negative, about a competing organization is never a good thing. It’s irresponsible, unprofessional, and uncalled for. Athletes are frequently reprimanded for their inappropriate tweets. When they are, they often talk about their need to realize that they represent an entire organization when they vocalize their opinions. Why aren’t Social Media managers given the same treatment? If anything, the punishment should be more severe. These are professionals who supposedly know better.

Alas, Twitter is a notoriously fast moving medium, and the masses will quickly forget about the Redskins much in the same way they did the Calgary Flames. Regardless of the attention they get, the Redskins should do the right thing. They should pull the tweet and issue an apology.

What do you think? Do you agree that the Redskins made a mistake here, or do you believe opinions demonstrate the human element of otherwise boring organizational Twitter feeds? Let your voice be heard in the comments section.

Quick Hits

Quick Hits

So much has happened in the sports Twitter-verse over the past few weeks. I’m hoping to find some time to write about a few of these topics in more detail, but in case that isn’t in the cards, here is a quick rundown of topics that have had my attention lately.

#Linsanity

This isn’t a small story, and as a result, I’m not going to give you much background on Jeremy Lin. He’s been mentioned on every medium imaginable, from ESPN to Sports Illustrated to CNN and NPR. Suffice to say, Twitter has not been an exception. At one point during his recent run, Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch noted in a tweet that the New York Knicks Twitter feed (@nyknicks) had mentioned Lin 29 times in a 24 hour span. The rest of Twitter has followed suit. His Twitter account, @JLin7, has skyrocketed to almost 400,000 followers, and he has become a trending topic in just about every game he’s played.

One thing with Jeremy Lin. I’m hearing a lot of comparisons to Tim Tebow, and I don’t agree with them. The stories just aren’t similar enough beyond the quick Twitter success. Also, the NFL is set up for long term trending figures. By only playing once a week, the media is given six days a week to obsess over a particular player, and audiences all over are always left wanting more. By contrast, NBA teams play a few times a week, which makes me think that sports media personalities and Twitter users alike will tire of the #Linsanity sooner rather than later.

Could a @KingJames jersey be coming to an arena near you?

Probably not; the NBA is too big and possesses too many moving parts to make it work, at least in the near future. The idea is out there though, thanks to the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League (NLL). On February 12th, the Wings made history by becoming the first professional sports team to stitch Twitter usernames on the back of player jerseys where last names are typically found. Steve Olenski has a great write-up of the event on socialmediatoday.com. You can also find him on Twitter at @steveolenski. Olenski thinks we’ll see other professional sports leagues take a wait and see approach to the idea, and I tend to agree. I’m not sure we’ll ever see such a gimmick in the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL, but I could see the idea catch on in leagues such as NASCAR or MLS, where organizations and teams are more willing to get creative to foster fan engagement and generate national publicity.

#Hashtags starting to make it big

Business to customer (B2C) organizations have been using sponsored hashtags for a while now as a way to create buzz about new products or services, with mixed results. Lately, the same could be said for sports organizations. Sports Illustrated just debuted a sponsored hashtag on their latest cover of Jeremy Lin, with the hashtag #SILinsanity written across the magazine’s headline. The action was met with a large amount of scrutiny, with criticism largely centering around the idea that putting a sponsored hash tag on the SI cover goes against the reputation SI has built throughout their history. I can’t say I agree with the sentiment. As times change, businesses should be commended for changing with them. Sports Illustrated saw an opportunity to capitalize on a growing trend, and took advantage of it.

The PGA Tour, another traditional organization, also recently allowed for hashtags to be featured. Equipment maker TaylorMade recently placed the hashtag #driverlove on the side of baseball hats worn by sponsored players. The hashtag is part of a larger campaign from TaylorMade centering on the feeling golfers feel towards their new TaylorMade drivers. In an interview with social media site Mashable.com, TaylorMade’s chief marketing officer Bob Maggiore said the brand is looking to try new ways of engaging with customers using social media. Maggiore also told the site the hashtag already has a modest “cult following” among golfers and fans after two rounds of practice at the Northern Trust.