For most of the Tampa Bay Rays’ history, the team’s ownership epitomized how not to run a baseball franchise. While the results on the field speak for themselves (they were beyond bad), it was ownership’s inept public relations that turned many Tampa Bay residents against the Rays.
With a change in ownership in 2005, a focus was placed on the fan experience and friendlier marketing. Initiatives such as free parking at games if you had four or more people in your car, the ability to bring outside food in to Tropicana Field, and constant improvements to the domed stadium caused fan feelings towards the team to soften. (The team’s 2008 World Series appearance and subsequent successes have helped too.)*
Now, continuing their fan-friendly push, the Rays are embracing interacting with their fans through Twitter.
Like any team, the Rays setup shop on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. In fact, they have two Twitter accounts. It’s the second one, RaysRepublic, that really shows what an organization (i.e. schools) can do with Twitter.
I’m not a fan of Twitter or Facebook accounts that simply cross-post a website’s news feed. Social media should be just that: social. It should not be a glorified RSS feed of your school’s news stories. The Rays’ Facebook page and other Twitter account, RaysBaseball, mostly fall in to that mold.
On the other hand, RaysRepublic is unique because of its billing as, “The official unofficial Twitter of the Rays.” They even tell you that if you want Rays breaking news, you should follow the main Rays feed. The publishers of RaysRepublic (who I imagine as college interns in the marketing department) don’t just post scores and highlights; they provide behind-the-scenes info on the Rays, write humorous in-game Tweets, hold contests for Twitter followers who are at Tropicana Field, and, most importantly, interact with fans through @ replies.
I believe most schools’ Twitter accounts are more like RaysBaseball than RaysRepublic, and that’s too bad. We’re missing a great opportunity to provide readers with the moments that make our schools different from each other. Twitter (and Facebook for that matter) should be about sharing “slice-of-life” moments with followers, not which students were named National Merit Scholars this year; leave those types of posts to the school’s official news outlet: the website.
For example, at the start of last school year, Beaver Country Day School’s Twitter feed (which, I admit, looks an awful lot like RaysBaseball at times) posted:
http://twitpic.com/hptv5 – You know school is in full swing when backpacks line the foyer outside Bradley Hall during an US Meeting.
Within minutes a recent graduate replied with:
@BCDSchool Cripes I miss that.
That’s obviously not official school news. The post provides followers with a “behind-the-scenes” look at the school, and, for those who have experienced those moments, brings back memories.
That is what Twitter should be.
So, how about it? Are you willing to let your Twitter feed become the “official unofficial Twitter of [your school’s name]?”
* Rays’ history partly from The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First by Jonah Keri