On Twittering and Tweeting

July 16, 2009

(10:17 a.m.): When Jamelle Elliott took the UC women’s basketball coaching job, she was besieged with Follow-me-on-Twitter requests. Her first reaction? What in the heck is Twitter?

While Twitter is silly, a time-waster and self-promoting – and this coming from a guy who’s on Twitter for much of the day – it also can be rather useful. For a coach like Elliott, who is searching for ways to build interest in her program, Twitter is a much-needed commodity.

“In talking to my coaching friends, they feel like it’s a good way to market yourself and get your basketball program out in the cyber world,” said Elliott, also known as @JamelleElliott http://twitter.com/JamelleElliott. “It shows the positive things you’re doing with your program. Just getting publicity and exposure for your program. As far as the Internet is concerned, you can’t get better access. It’s probably better than any advertising or letters that you’re writing. It’s a way for more people to grasp what I’m trying to do for the program. It’s something I wanted to do right away.”

So far, she’s got 117 followers (though, I imagine, after this blog post hits the airwaves, that total will zoom up to four figures), and truth be told, she’s pretty interesting. She just got off the recruiting trail, but for the previous 10 days, she detailed where she was spending her time. It gives you a pretty good sense of all the traveling coaches must do in July, and, you know, she’s kind of funny about it.

Some recent examples: July 7, 8:34 a.m.; Next stop. Allentown, PA. I'm hoping to find a "diamond in the rough" today. Shining for only the Cincinnati staff to see :-)

July 11, 10:03 p.m.; Just landed in Chicago for a tournament that starts tomorrow. I love the windy city. Having dinner with Oprah tonight (Not!)



And my personal favorite, perhaps because I’ve been through Murfreesboro.

July 13, 6:25 p.m.; Leaving Chicago and heading to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I'm soooooooo excited. Ok maybe not that excited.

“People want to know what it is you’re doing,” Elliott said. “I’m just trying to be as honest as possible and try to say it in a way that’s very soft and very happy-go-lucky. I love what I do. I love my job and I love building this program. I want as many people as possible to see what I’m doing and hoping to turn this program into a Big East powerhouse. I’ve been doing some things in the month or so.”

She’s not the only one. Though neither Mick Cronin nor Brian Kelly have set up their own Twitter accounts, volleyball coach Reed Sunahara (@ReedSunahara) has one of his own – his latest Tweet details the next book you should buy: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. In actuality, the next book you should buy is … well, you can see where I’m going with this.

But more than just a chance to post your travel schedule or throw out a book recommendation, there’s something else important going on here. The need to keep up with recruits so that they can keep up with you. If recruiting is the lifeblood of a program, Twitter perhaps is the IV inserted into your arm.*

*There’s probably a better way to make that analogy, but ah, I’m not really interested in finding it.

“The recruits can follow you,” Elliott said. “I want them to know what I’m doing in my day. It can definitely help with recruits getting to you know better. We are in the electronic and Internet age. You almost don’t have a choice but to be up to date with those types of things. More and more kids, they’re always on the Internet. It’s on an as-it-happens basis. Any way we can get recruits or whoever it is – fans or donors or anybody in the community to follow what we’re doing – its better for the marketing and recruiting aspect of our program.”