Parallels Between the Ways That Journalists, College Coaches Use Twitter

There are some key points from Watson's article that have parallels to journalists using the same tools:

1. Ease of use

People don't always have time to read in-depth newsletters or multiple-part series. Twitter works, said University of Kentucky Basketball Coach John Calipari, because it lets people get news quickly and in small amounts.

"It's the reason why USA Today worked. It's the reason why people want to see the ticker on ESPN," Calipari said. "[People] don't want large bites. Give me a small bite; make it fast, I'll see what it is, I'll laugh and I'll move on to something else."

2. Promotion of programs and events

Twitter and other social media sites can be good outlets for promoting games in the world of sports, or for promoting stories in the world of journalism. University of Toledo Football Coach Tim Beckman said Twitter has become a key way of reaching out to recruits.

"We're not able to communicate with them as much as we'd all like to be able to communicate, so you've got to find ways to do it," Beckman said. "And Twitter just happens to be a way that [Toledo] came to me about, so each day I learn more and more about it. It's not that I know everything about it, but it's something I think we need to explore."

3. Develop authenticity/personality, get feedback

Twitter doesn't always have to be about reaching potential recruits or promoting stories. It's sometimes about showing a more personal side of the coach behind the sidelines or the journalist behind the byline.

Ben Malcolmson, director of online media at the University of Southern California, explained that because Pete Carroll, USC's head football coach, doesn't use Twitter for recruitment purposes, he "doesn't have to worry about being contrived or forcing anything. He can just be himself and put up whatever it is, and I think that projects a great image of who he is, who the program is, and if recruits like that, then that's a great side benefit."

4. Building an audience of regular readers

When coaches, journalists, etc. frequently engage with audiences using online social networks, there's potential to start new conversations, make contacts and develop a greater online presence.

The University of Toledo's Beckman said he tries to tweet on a schedule to make sure his tweets are always current. He sends one as he's leaving the house for work, another around lunchtime and then one toward the end of the day. Unlike several other coaches who use Twitter to talk about goings-on in their personal lives, Beckman said he likes to keep the focus on promoting his team and enticing recruits to come to Toledo.

Disclosure & hat tip: I found out about this story via a Facebook update from Tim Beckman, the new University of Toledo football coach mentioned in this article. My undergraduate degree is from the University of Toledo.
  • Will Sullivan

    Will Sullivan is the Interactive Director of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


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