Sat. Sep 22nd, 2018

The Social Advantage

There are certain thoughts that will not enter your brain after reading this column. Phrases like “never thought of that before, he just blew my mind, is Noe also a philosopher?” will not be swirling in your head. However, learning a brand new lesson isn’t required to make progress. Once we’re grown, we actually are reminded of valuable lessons that we already know more times than learning new ones.

During Week 6 of the NFL, I wondered out loud how many of the league’s current head coaches are active on Twitter. Sometimes, I have a bad habit of wondering about random things like “is an artichoke a vegetable” without researching them. Luckily my girlfriend, the lovely Christina, did some crack research. She found out that there are seven NFL coaches that have active Twitter accounts.

We know that Bill Belichick wouldn’t be caught dead on Twitter, so the question becomes, “Who would?” The NFC South is well-represented with every coach besides Dirk Koetter of the Bucs. Sean Payton, Ron Rivera, and Dan Quinn all have active accounts. Rounding out the magnificent seven are Bruce Arians, Pete Carroll, Mike Tomlin, and Jack Del Rio.

The coaches use their accounts for common reasons. They give props to how crazy the home crowd was during the previous game. They give birthday shout-outs to family members and props to their kids. They tweet thoughts and prayers for victims following tragedies like the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Success for NFL head coaches isn’t measured by how many followers or retweets they have — by the way, Pete Carroll is the leader with 2.2M — success is measured by how many games they win. For sports talk radio hosts, success is also measured by wins and losses. The scoreboard is different though because we don’t go on a football field and hammer things out with the station across the street. Success is measured by ratings, and social media can be a valuable asset in winning the ultimate battle.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t do a good job of using social media regularly. It’s mainly because I never thought it through. I failed to fully understand how it can be a great asset in winning the ratings competition. While I’ll never post things for the sake of posting them like a giddy schoolgirl, there are plenty of missed opportunities to display witty, funny, or thought-provoking comments.

All hosts have the opportunity to engage their audience even when they’re not on the air. Letting these chances slip away makes no sense. Whether you’re posting about the Austin Seferian-Jenkins touchdown reversal, or the symphony guy playing the triangle like a rock star in that Geico commercial, we have the ability to interact with our audience whenever we’d like. Take advantage of this advantage.

Besides being engaging and entertaining on the air, there are two extremely important factors in being a successful sports talk host — relating to the audience and showing that they matter. Social media is tailor-made in assisting hosts accomplish both.

Simply acknowledging the audience goes a long way. Have you ever noticed how many people have a positive or negative autograph story? “Aww, man, I went up to (so & so) and he totally blew me off!” The same concept can play out online. Make your audience feel like you value them. Respond and interact like they’re friends of yours, because ultimately, they need to be.

As far as relating to the listeners, there are thousands of things to post that’ll accomplish this objective. Whether it’s the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one, or something mundane like pumping your own gas, there’s something endearing about facing the same joys and pains in life as everyone else. For the audience to truly support you, they need to know you. Show them who you are.

Eminem is the best-selling artist of the 2000’s in the United States. Yeah, he’s uniquely talented, but he also did something that every sports talk host should do — he let us know who he is. He rapped about his daughter, Hailie. He let us know about his mom and ex-wife in very detailed ways. He told us about his upbringing. We have a sense of much more than what he thinks. We have a sense of who he is.

I don’t care which platform is your go-to — Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram — just find creative ways to interact with your audience. Bill Belichick doesn’t need to relate to his fans or show that he values them. Andy Reid doesn’t need to share pictures of his latest vacation or detail who he is. Jason Garrett doesn’t need to post thoughts about Deshaun Watson having a chance to win the MVP award, or who would win a fight between Nickelback and N’Sync, but you do.

Engage your audience on and off the air. Your ratings will thank you.

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