“Keep a napkin on your lap and don’t reach for things; ask to have them passed to you!” Sound familiar? Great advice for a child. No, for all of us. But how long has it been since you have had a meal with your real friends? It is easy to NOT spend time with people you know in real life because you are too busy Facebooking or Tweeting your “friends.” But, it is a reality that these mediums exist. Good thing that everything you need to know about wise social media-ing has been taught by “Raising Children 101” so it is not difficult. Why do I bring this up? It has come to recent attention that athletes more than ever are using social media to stay in the game. Why should they? More importantly, why should we? Read on.
If you are over the age of 30 (or fffffforty), did you know, according to edudemic.com, on average at age 8, children are regularly online. Also, if over 25% of teens log onto social media about 10 times a day (and they do because they want to be connected), then might it be a bit important to understand it? Although, I’m not in the generation that grew up with Facebook, the generations below us now are “expecting” MORE and MORE information and connection. It is not enough to just read a book or watch a movie or event. And just watching our favorite athletes on TV and seeing highlights of games the day after is insufficient. We now want those backstage passes to give our feedback and meet the band. We don’t want front row seats anymore; we want to be in the batter’s box or on the sidelines listening to the trash talk of the players. Give me instantaneous connection with my athletes! They have responded and are using Facebook and Twitter to talk about their games, further their future business opportunities, create their “brand” and stay connected to fans.
Companies are as well. Harry Arnett, Callaway Golf’s director of marketing, told golfweek.com that for them, “It’s pretty much the centerpiece of everything we do. It’s critical for us because that’s a very engaged group of fans of our brand that are also up to speed on the fastest ways to communicate with their friends and other golfers.”
Tony Hawk and Shaq are a couple of top sports stars active on Facebook and Twitter. They love the hype. One fan notes, “It is insane how common Twitter has become in the sporting world. It appears that every athlete, coach and analyst has their own account.” Sadly, however, it has become headline news as of late due to “unsportsmanlike conduct.” Chad Ocho-cinco of the Cincinati Bengals and Larry Johnson formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs seem to use Twitter as a medium for trash talk. Shame shame; where’s the class?
In golf, we have our top 9 as well according to pga.com (Thanks to social media, Facebook to be exact, they posed a “who’s your favorite tweeter” question to fans and got their answer)
9. John Cook
8. Andres Gonzales
7. Hunter Mahan
6. Graeme McDowell
5. Bo Van Pelt
4. Rickie Fowler.
3. Ian Poulter
2. Bubba Watson.
1. Jason Dufner.
They may not have a personality on the course, but off, they show it all on social media, especially Jason Dufner who has quite the wit off the green. They have been on par with branding themselves wisely by providing substantial content and intelligent answers to golf debates. Many contribute to the community frequently and, with class, engage among their followers; they are “social”.
So, if you are a golfer, you can take the game a step further and follow your courses on Facebook, your pro on Twitter, or find out about the latest club, driver or happening event by talking to others. And as a golfer, you know manners are key.
If you will allow me this tangent, from a virtue perspective, should we question whether the millennials are still valuing the same face-to-face communication ethics? Integrity, sincerity, and patience, for example, are tête-à-tête necessities. Are these going away? They will argue that they have MORE to deal with now that we are in a digital age. Change does not necessarily mean that tradition has become obsolete. In fact, these timeless truths are things we teach our children. Simple. Straightforward. Necessary. There is old wisdom, just like raising children in this new day, and these rules should apply if you are to engage in social media, whether you are a pro, an amateur, or just a spectator.
TIPS for RAISING CHILDREN: Apply to Social Media Habits
1. Don’t interrupt
Since this is not face-to-face, you probably wonder how can one interrupt? Overtweeting (or posting) is a way of overstaying your welcome or dominating a conversation. Unless you are personally witnessing a hurricane in Arizona, don’t give a play by play of your day. It clogs the system and really is unnecessary. You have to have a sifter in your head. Tweet or post the rocks and let the sand sift through. This is one thing the big 9 had in common. They had valuable things to say which didn’t need to be tweeted 20 different ways.
Another big no-no is choosing to tweet or post while you are actually in the middle of doing something, like DRIVING or DINING with a friend.
Be in your moment and wait your turn.
2. When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first.
Not a bad idea! It is pretty sad when you need to borrow someone’s tweets without giving them credit. Be original. If you cannot be, don’t press those buttons. If you must retweet, put RT, and then put the @ username. Think about it, if you are a writer you need to think like one and be polite (don’t plagiarize). While I’m at it, proofread. Nothing is more annoying than typos. You had time to type 140 characters, so you have time to reread it.
3. Keep negative opinions to yourself; the world is not interested in what you dislike.
But doesn’t negative sell? Yes. That is the problem. I think you are better than that, and I think you have class, especially if you are a golfer. I also know that you are building a brand (or selling YOU) when you are in the public eye and you have to ask yourself, who do you want to be: Spreader of good or spreader of trash? Do you want to add value or detract?
Many people use Facebook or Twitter as a public platform to say something about someone else. Would you say this to their face?
Example, You decide you don’t want to follow someone and you announce it to the world. Uncool. Just do it and carry on.
4. It’s not all about you. You talk. They listen. They talk. You listen.
We live in a bit of a narcissitic time, and it is easy to get caught up in the “This is MY post/MY tweet/MY thought. You must read and respond and acknowledge my brilliance.”
Rickie Fowler, although a fine golfer, tends to show that, yes, he lives the dream life. For him, it is all about his outfit, his culinary experience or his photo shoots. He is Rickie Fowler after all. But the fact that he knows this is disconcerting. However, for us Joe Schmoes out there, here is a tip: Unless you are a pro athlete, don’t tell us you are at the gym. AND unless you have a personal chef, and your Eggplant Parmesan was made with 14 K gold bread crumbs and served by Rickie Fowler, it is just not that interesting. We all understand that your dinner was one of the best of your life, but let’s face it; your dinner at Joe Bob’s Kitchen is not news breaking.
Finally, “checking in” on Facebook is an odd feature. Great…let me tell everyone I am at XYZ at 2am. At that point, you are going to need your 2000 virtual friends to come help you when someone has broken in to your empty home.
5. Think before you speak.
This is what I like about John Cook. Known as “Cookie”, he many not have quantity tweets, but he definitely gives his fans quality. He deals with the latest topics and gives his sincere opinion.
Before you hit that final send, post or tweet button, reread, rethink it. Also, please share information with close friends before posting it on Facebook.
Example: You have just played golf with a good buddy, and you have shared that you may be looking for another job. Next thing you know, he has posted this on his Facebook page for his 1700 friends before checking with you. One of his friends is your boss’s sister’s husband’s niece.
Or, perhaps, maybe you had a bad experience at Troon. Instead of Tweeting your frustration, be a classy guy or gal and go see the manager. Maybe there was a miscommunication, misunderstanding or lack of judgment on one of the party’s fault.
6. Be appreciative and say “thank you.”
I’ll take this a step further. Graeme McDowell (GMac) seems to really appreciate his fans. He treats them like he would another pro, and he loves to engage with them.
You may post an idea or a question to your circle, and you get many responses. To be grateful and say thank you, or to send a private note to someone sharing appreciation, is a classy move. It never gets old to be humble.
7. Don’t call people mean names or make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak.
Remember there is a human on the other side of the screen. Enough said.
It is up to YOU: Take ownership of your life, your golf game, and your social media habits!
Before we part ways, remember ONE LAST tip. This one is the most important of them all:
8. Keep a napkin on your lap and don’t reach for things; ask to have them passed to you.
Now, GO have a real meal with a real friend and take a break from your virtual ones. Then go play a game of golf phone free (unless you are using it to take a picture of the beautiful outdoors).