A Suns social media primer


Earlier in the week I presented an in-depth analysis of the Suns’ social media efforts as well as a Q and A with Suns head coach Alvin Gentry’s daughter.

Today I will bring you a collection of assorted thoughts on the Suns and social media that didn’t make my previous piece.

A rundown of Suns social media entities

The Suns and their players are all over the place on social media. Here’s a list of some of their bigger profiles, pages and handles.

Twitter

@PhoenixSuns – about 17,000 followers (No. 23 among NBA Twitter handles)

@the_real_nash – about 88,000 followers (No. 7)

@Amareisreal – about 32,300 followers (No. 13)

@jrich23 – about 25,000 followers (No. 16)

@JaredDudley619 – about 5,500 followers

@eegabeeva88 (Robin Lopez) – about 1,800 followers

Facebook

Phoenix Suns – about 51,000 fans

Steve Nash – about 530,000 fans

Amare Stoudemire – about 12,000 fans

MySpace

Phoenix Suns – about 8,000 friends

YouTube

Phoenix Suns – about 2,800 subscribers

Suns Social Sites

PlanetOrange.Net

Suns Twackle

Tweeting it up

The Suns held the first-ever NBA tweetup last season in which they invited about 120 fans through their Twitter profiles to go down to the practice court and hear from GM Steve Kerr about the team’s direction.

The Suns were also part of a contest during the playoffs in which teams battled for the NBA Twophy, a contest to see what team could get the most Twitter followers. Just like in real basketball, the Lakers did win, but Suns VP of digital operations Jeramie McPeek said the Suns ranked second at the end of the playoffs, and they are currently fifth behind the Lakers, Magic, Bulls and Celtics, who all play in some fairly decent-sized markets.

“Even though we weren’t in the playoffs we got a huge boost in followers,” McPeek said. “All the NBA teams really took off from that challenge. The Lakers did (win), which is understandable. I think everyone in LA is on Twitter, and the Lakers went all the way to the Finals.”

Twitter and the mainstream media

At first, the mainstream media thought Twitter was a joke.

Now, it’s becoming standard practice to report news right from Twitter.

Because seriously, why wouldn’t you?

Twitter is a primary source of exactly what these athletes are thinking, and it’s an invaluable tool.

Still, I chuckle every time when I see the media report a story such as Allen Iverson signing with Memphis and attribute Twitter as a main source. It just sounds awkward, and you know some of these veterans journalists must be wondering what this world is coming to when one of their main sources in a big story is Twitter.

Sure, you can say Shaq got everyone involved with the NBA into Twitter (and really he did make it “cool” for basketball players to tweet), but the turning point to me with NBA and Twitter came when Kevin Love tweeted about the firing of Kevin McHale at the start of the offseason.

Think about it. A major player reported a major front office move. No unnamed source close to the team with knowledge of the discussion speaking under the condition of anonymity, but an actual player putting his name next to it and accurately reporting the news.

McPeek told me he sees social media becoming the media, and this is why. Players can now cut out the middleman (the media) that in the past they needed to become popular enough to make all their endorsement money.

Now players can talk to the fans directly in their own voice, and the only way they’ll be taken out of context is if they take themselves out of context.

Journalists are now essentially reporting what athletes say that everyone else is privy to anyway, as opposed to closed to the public locker rooms and private conversations that only they are privy to.

There will always be a place for news gatherers and there are plenty of stories that players won’t touch, but I see social media leading to another fundamental change in how the media operates in the future, just as the demise of newspapers currently is.

Restrictions on the media

We don’t know what the NBA’s Twitter policy will be, but I’m already getting nervous, particularly as it pertains to reporters.

Under the NFL’s policy, media personnel can’t tweet during games in a way that provides play by play; they can only give essentially quarterly updates.

If this applies to me in any game I cover, that would mean I could tweet a game as much as I want if I’m watching it on my TV at home but I could only tweet essentially at quarter breaks if I’m actually there.

Same person, same analysis, but just because I’m at the arena means I’m under different rules.

That is so ridiculous because the media should be able to tweet whatever interesting outside details that fans don’t see on TV. Since it’s not picked up on TV, this is not infringing on the TV rights whatsoever.

We live in an age of connectivity in which anybody can know what’s happening at any time if they so please. Media members should not be restricted in what they are allowed to tweet in the arena.

But would you say that to his face?

When your friend asks you if he thinks Amare Stoudemire will ever win an NBA championship, you give him an honest answer.

But what do you say when Amare Stoudemire asks that question?

The greatest part about Twitter involves the interaction between players and fans. In my mind, every player should be doing everything he can to connect with fans as much as possible by being as real as possible. Jared Dudley is doing this naturally.

I bring up the Amare example because STAT recently tweeted, “If I stay with the Phoenix Suns, will I ever win Chmpionship? What do you think world. Suns fan be true to me. Don’t be biased!! Real Talk!”

So real talk he got.

The answers varied widely, but it’s amazing to think that real people like you and me would have the balls to tell Amare things like, “Real talk? Not unless YOU get fully committed to playing D. If not they’ll trade you anyways.”

People responded to Amare as if he were their buddy, not a superstar athlete whom they’ll probably never meet. You can essentially now directly tell people what you could only scream at them through the TV before.

It will be interesting to see if athletes continue to make Twitter more of a two-way street instead of a one-way street in which they’re telling us what they’re doing. I wonder how far they will go to show they care about us, and I wonder how personal fans will make their criticism now that they can theoretically talk directly to these athletes.

My experience in social media

I’ll be honest, Twitter took me a little while.

I’ve been on Facebook since Nov. 11, 2004, (yes, I’m that pathetic that I remember the exact day), but Twitter was tough for me.

I’ve been following it closely since Shaq started to make it cool, but it wasn’t until about three weeks ago that I decided to dive headfirst into the Twitter pool.

That was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to talk to all the Suns tweeps that I did. Before I felt like an outsider, but now I’m just “one of the guys” in the Suns’ Twitter community.

What I learned first and foremost is that if you want to add a few followers and become a part of that community then you need to tweet and tweet often (and then retweet). I tweeted roughly 300 times in my first four or five months on Twitter, and I’ve tweeted about 200 times in the last three weeks.

No, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had a life these past few weeks, it just means I’ve made an effort to join this community, and you’ll find pretty soon that it’s addicting and not nearly as lame as your friends would make you think. Still, it’s still tough to grasp the fact that I have “Twitter friends.”

The Suns Twitter people are a welcoming crew, so if you aren’t already on, get your account and start tweeting away.

You might even one day soon find your tweet on the big screen at USAC.