Fellow sports blogger, Devan Dignan (Can of Corn Sports), has had some amazing success recently engaging athletes on Twitter, and he was gracious enough to come on and share how he does it. Devan is a MBA / MSBM graduate of UCF’s DeVos Sport Business Management program. His sports cred includes stops with the St. Joe Blacksnakes (minor league baseball), University of Central Missouri Athletic Department, UCF Athletic Department, Fantasy Players Edge Fantasy Football, as well as consulting jobs with the Chicago Fire (MLS) and Rockland Boulders (minor league baseball). He currently works for the Springfield Armor, the NBA D-League affiliate of the New Jersey Nets.
If you like Devan’s guest blog post as much as we did, keep an eye out for his upcoming Café 101 series, where he breaks down the greatest athletes of all time, number by number….
8 Simple Rules for Tweeting Your Favorite Athletes
By Devan Dignan
For sports fans, Twitter has grown into an online community where we can interact with fellow fans; a news source capable of keeping up with the 24 hour news cycle; and a medium we can use to engage our favorite teams, reporters, and athletes.
We live in a time where reaching out to professional athletes is as simple as sending a text message. Ever since Lou Gehrig appeared on a Wheaties Box in 1934, athlete endorsement has been an effective way to increase the popularity of a product or service. Given that today connecting with athletes is easier than ever, it seems absurd to not even attempt to leverage that opportunity to expand your online brand.
Last Friday, in an attempt to grow the Twitter following for my sports blog Can of Corn, I decided to reach out to dozens of current/former professional athletes to raise awareness of my own brand.
To commemorate Friday the 13th, I sent multiple athletes the following question:
Do you have any sports superstitions or pre-game rituals?
Now for many fans, the challenge is not reaching out to our favorite athletes but instead it has been eliciting a response.
Since Friday morning, I have received tweets from six current/former professional athletes, 3 former college athletes, 1 NFL team, and 2 well-known sports reporters. These responses have resulted in a 27.2% increase in the number of followers I have over the last four days.
I was successful in my endeavors and by following my 8 simple rules you can increase your response rate from professional athletes and effectively grow your brand.
1. Always Adhere to the Google Rule
The Google Rule states that when you have the opportunity to ask a distinguished speaker, renowned expert, or celebrity a question – don’t ask a question you can find the answer to in a Google search. The main reason I received so many responses was because my question was unique. If you had the chance to ask Tom Brady one question would you ask him how many touchdowns he had last season? I would hope not so don’t make the same mistake on Twitter. When you ask a “Google Question” you not only squander an opportunity, you also decrease the likelihood that you will get a response.
2. Play the Odds
Every Twitter profile includes a breakdown of the number of followers and tweets that a user has. For my particular endeavor I made it a rule not to reach out to any athlete with fewer than 1,000 tweets. The ideal athlete would be someone with a high tweet volume and relatively low number of followers. While this is a rare find, many athletes who retired prior to the Twitter craze fit this mold and I believe it’s one of the reasons I received a response from former Falcons and Buccaneers running back Warrick Dunn.
@Can_of_Corn everything I did was a routine week in and week out.
— Warrick Dunn (@WarrickDunn) January 13, 2012
3. Choose Athletes Known For Engaging Their Fans
Some athletes are known for their high volume of tweets but just as important, if not moreso, is the percentage of their tweets that are direct responses. While athletes like Shaq and LeBron James tweet frequently, there are athletes like Chad Ochocinco, Dwight Howard, and Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe (who did respond) who are well-known for responding to their fans. You can get an idea of an athlete’s response rate by looking at their individual tweet timeline.
4. Watch Your Timeline
It is not only important to scout out an athlete’s timeline but to keep an eye on your Twitter feed as well. The primary reason that I received a response from Torii Hunter was because I noticed on my feed that Hunter had sent about 10 direct responses within the last three minutes. Knowing Hunter was online at that moment , I seized the opportunity to tweet him when he would be most likely to see it.
@Can_of_Corn when I slide into a base and my shoes get dirty, I have to clean my shoes the next inning. Lol ^TS
— Torii Hunter (@toriihunter48) January 13, 2012
5. It’s a Numbers Game
An old adage in sales is that “it’s a numbers game.” Sales have a rather low success rate but the great salespeople are usually those who reach out to the most people. Twitter is really not any different. I reached out to almost 100 athletes. The more athletes you tweet, the more likely you are to get a response.
6. Be Aware of Trends and Use Hashtags
My favorite thing about Twitter is that at any given moment you can see what an entire city, country, or the world is talking about. Since #Fridaythe13th was trending for most of the day on Friday, I used that hashtag as much as possible to increase the visibility of my tweets. Additionally, some athletes (such as LeBron James and Floyd Mayweather) routinely develop their own hashtags you can catch their attention with.
7. Join a Conversation Instead of Starting One
Over the weekend I had a Twitter conversation with Saints linebacker Kawika Mitchell about the Texans vs. Ravens game. It’s not always about asking the right question but positively contributing to a conversation that the athlete has already started. People are more likely to have a conversation with you if the topic interests them. The same is true of Twitter.
@Can_of_Corn: @KawikaMitchell I’d really like to see Matt Birk get a ring before he retires this year, all time great Center!” Agreed ^TS
— Kawika Mitchell (@kawikamitchell) January 15, 2012
8. Don’t Limit Yourself to Athletes; Reach Out to Sports Teams as Well
Unlike athletes’ personal accounts, team accounts are developed with the sole purpose of interacting with fans. My biggest success of the weekend was actually from responding to a question that the New Orleans Saints posted on Twitter. The Saints liked my answer so much that they retweeted it which led to 40 Saints followers retweeting my response. A retweet or a response from a team can be a great way to give yourself some visibility on Twitter.
@Official_Saints It’s gotta be Drew Brees, whenever u think u have him sacked or the play is dead, he effortlessly throws 60 yd bombs
— Can Of Corn (@Can_of_Corn)January 13, 2012
By following these 8 simple rules you can increase your athlete response rate, grow your Twitter following, and effectively build your online brand. Though the best advice I can give you on how to gain followers was sent to me by CNBC Sports Reporter Darren Rovell last week:
Devan Dignan+, Can of Corn
Latest posts by Devan Dignan (see all)
- 8 Simple Rules for Tweeting Your Favorite Athletes - January 18, 2012