About MLB and Twitter

[Moshe asked me to share this with you, so I have]

[Caveat:  This story is still developing.  Recommend reading this post from Fang's Bites for background info, and updates.]

This evening, news broke that MLB.com is now preventing their writers from tweeting anything non-baseball related.

I wish I could adequately put into words how much that this policy, if true, is quite simply the wrong way to go.

I’ll try to put this simply, so I don’t bore you with my waxing philosophical:  the great benefit social media gives to us is that it allows us to humanize those that might otherwise seem distant.

In terms of baseball, social media has had the advantage of making the game seem closer and more accessible to us humble viewers.  I’m not going to lie–I’ve been blogging now for two and a half years, and it’s still an awesome thrill when an MLB’er responds to one of my tweets.  Yes, I’m a total fan girl.  I know.

The thing is, social media isn’t really about publicity.  At its heart, it’s about interaction.  Sites like Facebook took off not because they were a shill for companies to advertise their wares, but because it was away to maintain contact with those whom we may have otherwise never spoken to or of again after graduating high school.

The most popular blogs are those with large, interactive communities and the most popular twitter users are those who interact with their audience.  (N/B:  with Twitter, given the number of accounts that are pure bots, you cannot measure popularity solely through the number of followers).

This holds true in a great many facets, but especially among baseball writers.

I’ll put it this way:  over the off-season, some friends and I were asked who our favorite beat writer was–we all made the same reply, and all for the same reason–said writer was the most accessible, interacting with their audience via Twitter, and making the game seem more…well, real.

It’s not a coincidence, then, that this season more beat writers have picked up on this–more of them have been interacting with their audience, providing for a larger, more integrated community, and growing baseball.

Interaction, with writers and even with baseball players has taken the game to another level in making it more accessible. More interaction means more discussion, and things that may have otherwise not been discussed find air time.  Fans can find one another, find writers, writers can find readers, and the entire experience of watching a game becomes enhanced.

If the aspect of interaction, of being able to converse with writers as full human beings rather than abstract personas, is taken away, then the point of social media on the whole is missed.

3 thoughts on “About MLB and Twitter

  1. Kyle H

    I suppose that it’s sort of a mix of “catastrophe control” and “branding.” The latter makes plenty of sense; I think if they’re going to be promoting a Twitter account as part of the content provided by the writer within the platform of MLB.com, they’ve got a good idea making sure that a baseball columnist qua baseball columnist doesn’t make an off-hand comment promoting a competitor of a site sponsor (and MLB.com is leveraged to the hilt with sponsorship), or saying something like “Lets Go Jets!” during a September afternoon Mets-Cubs game. Keeping an account strictly for baseball tweets when it’s part of the package of content provided by an employee makes sense.

    As to the former… I mean, I have a friend who works as talent for MLB Advanced Media. And he’s prone to getting hammered and saying dumb stuff, as are most people under the age of 30. Deadspin would have a field day if my buddy had a personal Twitter account after 11pm on a Saturday night. But yes, if this policy applies to personal-facing accounts that aren’t promoted by officially-sanctioned MLBAM channels, and I didn’t see in the article whether or not it pertained to that paradigm, it’s retarded.

  2. Peter B

    I agree with your sentiment. It’s nice being able to interact with writers and other people directly associated with the game and enhances the baseball experience for those who take advantage. I think, though, the policy makes some sense. Just as I keep work-related business to my work e-mail account and personal stuff to my personal e-mail, baseball writers contributing to the official MLB feed should keep it strictly business. How else can you draw the line between what’s appropriate and what’s not? If a writer makes an inappropriate comment on their “official” twitter account, they can’t protect themselves by arguing the Twitter account is their personal domain. MLB shouldn’t have to be in a position to constantly, selectively choose what they endorse. By creating this policy, they are protecting their brand. If a writer writes something inappropriate on their own twitter account, that’s the writer’s problem. If they write something inappropriate on their MLB-sanctioned twitter, the league has a clearcut policy by which they can delete, censor, remove, etc.

    Just my two cents. Great post.

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