Welcome to the first edition of MMB (I know, a few hours late). Every Monday, we will visit some of the most facinating bloggers out there. Today, we take a timeout with Brendan Wilhide of ‘Sports in 140.
Brendan Wilhide is the creator and founder of the SportsList. Who is on this list? How about Shaq, Lebron James, Chris Bosh, CC Sabathia, and Kerry Rhodes to name a few. Twitter has exploded over the last few months. You can credit this Twitter craze to the many athletes that have hopped on the bandwagon. Brendan has organized a list of these athletes, personalietes, and franchises over his SportsList…
Josh Feinberg: For those not familiar with Sports in 140, where did that title come from?
Brendan Wilhide: “Sports in 140” is the easiest way of explaining the purpose of the Sports on Twitter list: it’s all about sports on Twitter. Every tweet on Twitter must be 140 characters of less so I find that the name is the easiest way of explaining the concept all in one phrase.
Josh Feinberg: Tell us a bit about your Sports List on Twitter?
Brendan Wilhide: I created the Sports on Twitter list as a resource for fellow fans. I initially started the list because I was tired of trying to track down athlete Twitter accounts. I’m a big baseball fan and initially maintained a small, private list that I could share with friends.
One night I went looking for some sort of list of official list of athlete Twitter accounts and was frustrated when I couldn’t find one. I made my list public and the Sports on Twitter list has grown steadily from there.
A lot of people ask me how I go about validating and verifying accounts. I validate all athlete accounts by doing one of a few things:
1) I contact the team or organization and verify that the athlete is indeed using Twitter
2) I contact the athlete personally and ask if they can provide photographic proof that the account is real
3) I check to see if an already validated account has validated the account in question (typically teammates interacting with each other)
4) I check for mentions of the athlete’s account in the media
I’ve been able to validate a lot of accounts—and invalidate plenty of others—using this methodology.
I’ve also been fortunate that my contacts have been very helpful in adding to the list. I find that Twitter users will tweet or email several new additions to the list a couple of times each week. The list would never have grown so quickly were it not for people’s interest in contributing to the list.
Josh Feinberg: How many athletes and teams are on the list?
Brendan Wilhide: I don’t have an exact count so I just say “over 200” athlete and team accounts.
Josh Feinberg: Where did your passion come from to work with Twitter and the Athletes on Twitter?
Brendan Wilhide: As I said I’ve always been a very passionate sports fan. I spent four years working in professional sports and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I’ve always been interested in technology.
I’ve found that maintaining the Sports on Twitter list allows me continue my passion for sports and my interest in technology in my spare time. I continue working on the list every day because I know people are using the list and I want it to be as up-to-date as possible.
Josh Feinberg: What does the future of Twitter look like for athletes, personalities, and celebrities?
Brendan Wilhide: I think we’re seeing a dramatic shift in the way athletes, teams and celebrities market themselves to their fans. Twitter offers anyone an opportunity to follow their favorite star and, in a sense, get to know them. There’s something to be said for the feeling fans get when they learn that their favorite star likes the same TV show or enjoys the same restaurants. I think these little things make stars more accessible to the fans and I think the fans appreciate that new level of accessibility.
Someone asked me recently if I thought Twitter would eventually supplant more traditional PR and I said no. Athletes and teams will still need traditional PR for all the reasons they need PR now, especially in crisis situations. Traditional PR is not going away.
Josh Feinberg: You launched Sportsin140 a few weeks ago…what has been the response up to this point?
Brendan Wilhide:The response has been tremendous. I never thought the site would garner so much traffic in just a couple of weeks. I had an idea about the way I wanted to site to look and feel and I’ve been able to expand on my initial idea already because the reader response has been so great. For example, I didn’t know about the huge auto racing community on Twitter. A Twitter user contacted me and asked me why I didn’t have a larger category for auto racing. I built a large list of auto racing users on Twitter but would not have realized the need for that category if a reader hadn’t contacted me.
The biggest compliment I received about the site was when someone told me they thought the site had been up for months. “You have so much information, I thought the site had been up for months!” she said. That meant a lot to me because I spend a lot of time on the site and I want the content and look to be as professional and complete as possible.
I take pride in the site and it’s a rewarding feeling knowing that people return to the site because they enjoy reading it and look forward to the updates..
Josh Feinberg: Who is your favorite Athlete or Team to follow on Twitter?
Brendan Wilhide:While following athletes on Twitter is a lot of fun, I enjoy following teams more because teams are consistently finding new ways to promote and market themselves through Twitter.
I recently blogged about my “top 10 Minor League Baseball teams on Twitter” and I think minor league sports are an excellent example of how teams can use Twitter in their marketing efforts.
I’ve seen teams tweet about everything from promotions and the weather at the ballpark to ticket giveaways (Shaq made the Twitter specific “find me now” promotion famous) and special discounts for fans.
I think teams are realizing that Twitter is a fun, free way to stay in touch with their fanbase and I think we’ve only seen the beginning of sports teams on Twitter.
Be sure to check out Sports in 140…