Fans use Twitter as a way of connecting to athletes, getting a chance to see and hear a player in a way that would have been unattainable for most in the past. Fans especially like to see what athletes are thinking about and saying on game day; they want an inside look at how the athletes prepare themselves.
“The heart of a lion, faith in God’s plan and a pursued dream.”
This tweet by Ole Miss football player Denzel Nkemdiche is one of the many examples of how Twitter gives athletes a chance to personalize themselves instead of just being a head in a helmet.
With 22,626 followers, Nkemdiche he has become one of the most followed Ole Miss athletes. Whether he’s talking about life on or off the field, his followers are tuned into every tweet.
Ole Miss student and Rebel fan Reed Kerwin follows @denzelnkemdiche.
“It’s cool to see what Denzel and the other players are thinking about not only during their everyday lives but also before, during and after a game,” said Kerwin, a senior finance major. “After a game, especially a loss, I like to see what he’s thinking and how he and the team react.”
One such instance where fans were particularly interested in listening to what Denzel had to say was earlier this season when he and the Rebels suffered their first loss of the 2013 season at Alabama. Despite all of the negativity coming from the Rebel faithful that night, Denzel still found a way to be positive about the situation.
Sports marketing expert Scott Pederson says using social media can be a double-edged sword for athletes.
“It can be great, or it can be a disaster,” Pederson said. “Athletes are emotional people and when something happens they tend to tweet things that make their agents gasp.”
Joey Jones, associate media relations director with the Ole Miss Athletics Department agrees with Pederson.
“They have to make sure that they understand that what they are putting out there can be seen by the world,” said Jones.
Pederson says when an athlete uses social media appropriately, everybody wins.
“It benefits the athletes financially because the more followers you have, the more marketable you are. But fans benefit as far as getting close to the athletes,” Pederson said.
“There are definitely pros in that athletes can engage fans in a way that 10 years ago they couldn’t.”