After I attended one of Lisa Ann Landry’s social media marketing seminars last year, I immediately followed her on Twitter. One of the best tips I’ve taken from her is to never worry about not checking in with the world.
There’s so much chatter on Twitter, if you don’t have anything interesting to say, there’s no reason to. Your followers will still be there the next day.
When Bo Pelini tells the Nebraska football team to take a sabbatical from 140 characters or less because of Eric Martin’s recent tweets, I’ll understand where he’s coming from. As long as such a holiday doesn’t become permanent.
If Twitter provides nothing else, it’s entertainment. Take two prominent Husker coaches, for example.
Men’s head basketball coach Tim Miles has tweeted at halftime of games while Pelini has made headlines for banning the service. The basketball program, one that many Husker fans consider secondary, has coaches supervising a small number of players making Twitter a breeze to monitor.
With football, that’s a full-time job itself, so it can be, and usually is, an all or nothing verdict on whether or not players can participate.
In regards to the statements that may have led to an alleged gag order, if Eric Martin believes that he and his teammates should be paid, he can take that position. If he does, he should probably do some in-depth research on the subject instead of joking about it on a medium where many statements can be taken the wrong way.
In light of Ohio State’s memorabilia scandal which ultimately cost Jim Tressel his job, he probably shouldn’t have been talking about becoming friends with a pawn shop owner so casually, though.
If there is a ban, the reason it should be only a temporary one is because college football players actually do have a reason to be on Twitter.
It’s not about fooling around, but rather building a name and a reputation. While Twitter often emulates social media relic Myspace in that it has a very egocentric aspect to it, the medium can help networking. This comes in handy for players who won’t be running onto the field in NFL uniforms.
Former Huskers Blake Lawrence and Adi Kunalic now run a successful social media company that uses pro athletes to promote other businesses through Twitter.
The majority of college football players are going to have two or three years when they are contributing on the field and building connections for later in life. Social media outlets like Twitter can help bolster their resume as much as students who write for the school newspaper or participate in student government.
While building a reputation, mistakes will be made as often happens in college. The skills required for proper social media use need to be taught to players, just like running proper routes or putting enough touch on a pass.
Athletes need to understand that tweeting is the Internet equivalent of shouting in a room full of media members local, regional and national. What they say affects their team, their families and themselves. You need only skim Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu’s recent outburst to see what a few tweets can do to your reputation and that of those around you.
Learning to tweet is learning how to speak with consideration and how to behave in public, which is what one should learn in college.
Curtailing the activity for a period of time is not going to hurt the players. Let’s remember how Pelini banned Twitter before the Capitol One Bowl. Had Nebraska won that game, he would’ve been praised further for doing so and given even more coaches ammo to do the same.
I understand why Pelini has said that social media’s eradication would make his life easier. However, just because Twitter can cause problems isn’t a valid excuse for not teaching your players how to properly use it. Taking the privilege away from them temporarily is part of that lesson.
However, if Pelini were to put a lock on Twitter the weeks before Wisconsin and Michigan come to town, I think we’d all find a way to deal with it.