Monday, May 18, 2009

Companies Can Learn A Twitter Lesson From Athletes

In this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, Sean Gregory looks at Athletes and their use of Twitter. There are a lot of reasons why people like to follow their favorite athletes on Twitter. Some of them are funny. Some of them give insights into the game. Some of them give a more uncensored sound bite than they can on TV. But the reason most people follow their favorite athletes on Twitter is simple and more companies should follow their lead; Twitter forms a relationship between the athlete and the person.

Gregory sums it up perfectly by saying, “… messages of 140 characters or less – satisfies fans’ thirst for a closer connection to big-time athletes…” People want the behind the scenes scoop. They want to feel like they have some sort of connection with the guys they cheer for on TV. Companies are no different. People want to feel like they have a connection with the products they love and support.

This can be accomplished in any number of ways. A company can share new product improvements. They can share a solution to a problem that some customers have had. They can share unique ways to use their product. Anything that gets a dialogue flowing and makes the consumer feel like they are part of the machine and not the pavement being run over will foster a feeling of community and loyalty.

The most important key to developing a good Twitter following in my mind is to not “sell” to the people following you. Athletes generally don’t use Twitter as a sales avenue. Some promote their new sports drink sponsorship or may even promote an autograph-signing event. However they aren’t sending out 20% off coupons constantly. So, while a tweet like “I can’t think of a good reason why the Denver airport’s in friggin West Kansas”, from Barry Zitto, might not seem like an earth shattering statement to most people. To his followers, it’s exactly what they are looking for.

What do you think about Athletes using Twitter? Could companies use some of these techniques to build their follower base?


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