At the Tribe Social Forum last week, Lewis Howes learned that Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro is set to fully embrace social media this fall, from the head office all the way down to the players. Especially in a season where the Indians suck aren’t as competitive, Mark sees more reason than ever to harness the power of social media to interact with their fan base. At least one other General Manager agrees; Vancouver Canucks’ Mike Gillis has decided to use Twitter for the upcoming hockey season.
While Gillis isn’t as enthusiastic as Shapiro, he notes in the Globe and Mail, “social media is not something that is going to go away, and I think it’s a way to get a little bit of a different perspective out there”.
The Canucks are no stranger to social media with over 36,000 Twitter followers and 219,000 fans on Facebook. On top of that, players like Ryan Kesler and Bill Sweatt have their own twitter accounts and have been active through out training camp. However, the move by Gillis is still unprecedented as General Managers in other sports have been busy banning players from using social media rather than embracing it. Besides interacting with fans, Gillis hopes to eliminate some of the propaganda regarding his team by providing an official source directly from the team. Recently, he was displeased with the discrepancies in the media in regards to his star prospect Cody Hodgson.
Personally, I think this is a great move by Mike Gillis and he should pave the way for other media savvy general managers in sports across the continent. Ever since Shaq stepped into Twitter with his size 22 feet, social media has been made a constant even for the casual fan. It’s a wonderful time to be a sports fan, as we can interact with our favourite players and teams no matter where we are located – something that would have never happened 5 years ago. However, it has not been without controversy. Multiple players in various sports have been fined for tweeting at inappropriate times or simply saying things that would give their agents migraines.
Genearl Mangers bring a higher level of education as all of these executives are trained PR professionals that know how to deal with the public. One concern I have is whether Mike Gillis will simply use Twitter as his own personal press release, or will he actually interact? It will definitely be interesting this season to see how Gillis uses Twitter.
What do you think of General Managers using social media to provide an official word for fans? Do you think it will work?