Some Big 12 assistant athletic directors use Twitter to engage fans

Some Big 12 assistant athletic directors use Twitter to engage fans

A few assistant athletic directors did not learn how to keep up with social media professionally when they were in school – it was self-taught.

Before the cell phone era it was less common to have to be engaged at all hours of the day, Heath Nielsen, Baylor’s assistant athletics director, said. 

“Ever since cell phones came around, there could always be a call at any minute and social media has just exacerbated that,” Nielsen said. “It’s non-stop.”

TCU’s Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations Mark Cohen said he is careful about what he tweets to ensure accuracy.

Cohen said he also breaks TCU athletics news via Twitter on his personal account. He said it is the best way to reach as many fans and outlets as possible.

Star-Telegram Deputy Sports Editor Tom Johanningmeier said he worked with people within athletics media relations for about 10 years.

In one instance, he said, he learned on Twitter that TCU’s football season sold out of tickets.

“It’s a huge story of great interest to readers and we found out about it on Twitter,” Johanningmeier said. “When we called and asked about it they weren’t ready to confirm it or say anything, yet it was on Twitter.”

Star-Telegram usually goes with the Twitter confirmation when it comes from trustworthy accounts until they can get an interview, he said. The use of social media is just one more thing sports journalists have to keep up with along with other print media, television and radio.

With the rise of social media, “breaking news” is no longer a personal achievement because when it is tweeted once, anyone can take it and it is harder to tell who “broke” it first, he said. 

Most of Baylor’s announcements over Twitter come from the team-specific account instead of personal accounts, Nielsen said. He and his staff mostly tweet from the athletic-specific accounts instead of their personal accounts.

Nielsen said he and his office would watch other official accounts like pro sports, businesses and retail to mimic and learn how to interact with the social media public.

“[We follow] anyone who deals with a fan base and watch what works, what doesn’t and we adopted out stuff along the way,” Nielsen said.

The Baylor athletics media relation staff share articles about social media to each other as well, Nielsen said.

Over the weekend that TCU played West Virginia, Cohen sent out 60 TCU-related tweets.