I have had a Twitter account for a few months and use it mostly to talk about life, muse about things that bug me, and to get tips on some fantasy baseball news. Recently, I put myself into the Twitter penalty box. I decided that I had gone a little overboard on Twitter, and I needed a little break. I was Twittering way too much at work, for one thing, and that can’t be a good idea. Besides that, I had started to use it as a platform to grouse about how I believed someone else was misusing Twitter.
That’s not what Twitter is for.
That’s what this blog is for.
Twitter has wide appeal, and is attracting a remarkable number of new users every day. People can use Twitter for many reasons, and be as active as they choose to be. As a writer, Twitter has many different uses:
· Twitter is text messaging to a mailing list.
· Twitter is a social media experiment that has grown into a marketing juggernaut.
· Twitter is micro-blogging for the ADHD-afflicted.
· Simply put, it’s another way for people to get a message out.
As a reader, Twitter is a new way to ask questions, seek advice or get feedback from your peers. You can use Twitter to get updates on your favorite stars, or keep up on the news from your area of interests.
Twitter has attracted a number of celebrity users, including a bunch of MLB players who now have their own Twitter accounts. There are some accounts that behave as automated systems that repost any mention of a team name (called “retweet bots”), but after awhile learning about recent bird sightings in the Baltimore area gets old. Some players are great at posting (@str8edgeracer, @BarryZito), some are not quite adept (@dougiebaseball), and some rarely post at all (@CC_Sabathia, @ChienMingWang). There are imposters (@newjorgeposada), and some who have others speak for them (@NickSwisher). Or so it would seem.
There have been rumors, accusations and judgements about how certain MLB players allow their Public Relations person make their posts for them. Specifically, some of the conjecture is over whether or not Nick Swisher’s post actually come from him, or are they filtered through his PR agent. While this is interesting twitter fodder, I don’t think that any of it really matters in the scope of the game.
So what’s my problem? My problem is that I was blocked from following @NickSwisher’s twitter feed. Not that this is a serious thing; if I want, I can just navigate my web browser to www.twitter.com/nickswisher, or even set up my email client to automatically download the RSS feed that the site generates. Blocking Nick’s twitter feed from my account is a limp-wristed attempt to chastise my retelling of these rumors regarding Nick’s PR agent, Kathy Jacobsen’s involvement in his status updates.
I was blocked because of my post criticizing the actions as “lazy and stupid”. http://www.twitter.com/matt_danger/status/2042844389 It’s all pretty silly really. The way the rumor came to me was that Nick didn’t “understand how to use Twitter”, so he would “text his updates to his PR person who would then enter them into Twitter.” And to me, that IS lazy and stupid, IF no one told him all he had to do was to text to phone number 40404 . Sadly, 140 character limits don’t get you very far. “Lazy and Stupid” was all I could fit in my retweet, so the meaning was really up-for-grabs.
OK, so a bunch of you just put your heads down and sheepishly admitted that you didn’t know how to do that either. It’s ok. I don’t think many people do it anymore.
What’s the reality? Nick probably shouldn’t be posting his own tweets anyway, not without filter and approval from his PR agent. Of course the Social Media trend is for transparency, but it’s that kind of transparency that caused Trent Reznor to freak out on his followers. Even Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk), the golden boy of Twitter followers, claims that there is a point where you can actually have too many followers, leading to over-exposure. When there is no PR person filtering the message about you, or even filtering the message back to you, there can be serious damage to a person’s image.
That’s great, and I’m sensitive to that. But Kathy, you’re doing it wrong. Wildly overusing the “block” functionality to the point of abuse is a weak gesture and to what end? I can still get the feed. I can still post to my own twitter account. So what’s the purpose of the Twitter “block”? I suggest that Kathy, in the spirit of this social media transparency trend, directly address any one of her (or Nick’s) critics and directly deal with her perceived problem. I would have been happy to get a direct message from her asking for me to clarify my statement. None came, and as a fan of Nick Swisher, I’m disappointed in her actions.
I had one other “Kathy as PR person” related tweet regarding her players:
http://www.twitter.com/matt_danger/status/1340256557 It just struck me funny that all three of them posted at the same time about Seinfeld-like nothings. Sure, it could be true that Kathy had each of them on the phone in a “How you should use Twitter to improve your Brand” conference call, and they each happened to tweet about something non-MLB related. But it also could support the rumor that Kathy is actually making all their posts for them.
Either way, it doesn’t matter. Kathy will continue to do what she does, without understanding her true customer: the fan. Since the rant I made on my own Twitter account (@matt_danger) I have since had the block lifted, and I’m following @NickSwisher again, loyally. And for myself, I am ending the self-imposed Twitter hiatus.
Take some time this week if you have it, and support Nick by adding him in as a write-in vote for the 2009 MLB All Star game. Stop by www.voteforswisher.com for all the details.