Sunday, June 19, 2011

Social Media Etiquette and Swimming - A Fan's Perspective

I got mad last night when I missed some of my favourite swim events because of “Technical Difficulties”. It wasn’t the technical difficulties alone that made me mad, so I decided to blog...

Back in 2009, I decided to bring swim events to Facebook. I started with Santa Clara 2009! I decided to create events for major swim competitions and promote all of the swimmers who work hard. The goal was for the fans and the general public to see instant results of swimming, and to have a chance to provide feedback and let the swimmers know that their hard work is appreciated and validated by the fans. My admins and I would go to swimmers’ pages or walls and congratulate them. It was a great system. We used to receive feedback from swimmers themselves, their parents, or just fans saying how much they appreciated our hard work. For us, it wasn’t hard. It was fun and we truly felt that ALL SWIMMERS needed to be appreciated equally. Although my swim group was called “Michael Phelps News and Events”, our swimming EVENTS were not about promoting Michael Phelps. When the time for events came, we treated all the swimmers equally and gave all the love and support for their hard work.

From that point on, the idea of covering swim events by various groups and organizations emerged. We knew this would bring more attention not only to the sport of swimming but also to the swimmers themselves.

Unfortunately, when dealing with big corporations, the case is different. Those Corporations that cover some of the swimming events make money through advertising and marketing swimmers that are super famous! During a swim event, it is obvious who they favour and give more attention to. It is not like a Facebook event that all swimmers get acknowledged. I used to do it in a fair manner when I did my swim events.

Swim fans, like me, have many favourite swimmers that we cheer for.  A swimming event is not just about Coughlin, Phelps, and Lochte! There many famous and not so famous swimmers from around the globe who appreciate the same amount of acknowledgment and validation. We want to see all of our swimmers succeed and get a glimpse of the fruits of their labour. So, on the night of finals, we don’t want to hear about technical problems or have a slow stream of information.

My concern is when the reporters and people behind the scenes become biased in reporting any sports and only covering very famous people.  They are ignoring fans. After all, it is the fans that purchase products, buy tickets and look forward to see a glimpse of their favourite athlete the night of finals.

This blog is not to about putting down the hard work of USA swimming, rather a constructive criticism which I hope the USA management team will look at and make improvement to their online reporting procedures.

There is social media etiquette involved when posting results of any major events to Facebook, Twitter, and any other form of social media outlet. In case of swimming:
  • A paid employee or a trained volunteer whose only job is to post results should be recruited to the job.
  • If the same person is simultaneously trying to take care of numerous personal online accounts and running around to do many other things in between each swim events, then there is a delay in posting those results. There is inaccuracy at times and mistakes. Hence, the quality of work drops.
  • A list of all the swimmers and country of origin, and if they have any Facebook page/Twitter accounts  should be made available to the social media coordinator to enable him/her post results quickly, and accurately; and this way everyone gets equal respect and acknowledgment.
  • So if some not very famous person all of a sudden breaks a record and/or gets first place, the social media coordinator can look it up and post correct information. Respect and Acknowledgement.
  • Although it is not possible to interview all of the swimmers, an effort should be made to give the first place winner the only spot for the interview for fans to see. We have witnessed that someone who is a bit more famous and was second in an event to get the spot rather than the well-deserved first place winner.
  • The person responsible for posting on behalf of an important organization like USA swimming should sign official papers to adhere to the code of conducts and ethics. The role should not be passed around to whoever is available to do it. I don’t know how USA swimming takes care of their online stuff but only ONE designated person should be in charge and held accountable. This is also to prevent anyone abusing their privileges under the USA swimming name.
  • The language for posting should remain professional all the time and when fans enquire about something it has to be dealt with in a timely manner and without an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence showing displeasure.
  • Although technical problems do happen, seeing it two nights in a row is not acceptable!
  • Swimming events are about swimmers, swimming, and fans. It should not be about technical problems and apologies.
I say it like it is....

"Michael Phelps News and Events" - Was the first group to bring swim events to Facebook

If You've read my previous blogs, I have mentioned that my Facebook is scheduled to be deleted. But that also means losing 3 major groups on Facebook including "Usain Bolt News and Events" and "Open Swim Water News and Events". I was going to cover two major swim events before I decided to delete my Facebook. I have 2nd thoughts...

One thing is for sure...swimming changed my life

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