Stop Allowing Social Media to Define a Fanbase

September 11, 2019
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If you are a sports fan that is active online, there is a very good chance that you are either on Twitter, follow Twitter, or somehow derive information from Twitter. The Social Media outlet is a fantastic outlet for breaking news and essentially real-time information. 

However, the very thing that makes Twitter great (people) is the same thing that makes it the worst. If you see a player commit to a team it is inevitable that the losing fanbase is going to ‘attack’ the player online for his decision. It only gets worse when a player decommits and the same fanbase that recently showered him with love turns on him.

You might be in denial and thinking that this does not occur with your fanbase, but it does happen with those people that root for _________ though!!”. I hate to be the one to tell you this but spoiler alert; it is an epidemic with every fanbase because we are all human. To be human means we are all susceptible to emotion. To be online in 2019 means that you are going to encounter a lot of  ‘keyboard warriors’ who just want to get a reaction from people to leverage emotions. By the way, I am not infallible here, I have done this against my better judgment as Tennessee and Louisville fans can attest.

If they are not the type of people trying to bait arguments and be contrarian just to take the other side; well, then they are just miserable, unhappy people who ‘just want to watch the world burn’

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An additional flaw to being human is that if you were to get 10 compliments and 1 criticism, you will likely be able to recite verbatim the criticism while essentially forgetting about the other 10 positives.

Add in the fact that most people are not on Twitter and most of the people that are even on Twitter are not active means you are getting a seriously tiny portion of the fanbase opinion (more on that below)

This problem is exacerbated in today’s world of sports journalism (I use that word very loosely). In this new world of being first instead of being right and creating clicks instead of quality content, you have a new cesspool of a unique type of ‘troll’ that has an insatiable appetite for the spotlight. These are the bloggers, radio hosts, podcast creators, these are ‘Journalism Trolls’ of our now fully connected world. The aspect of today’s journalism trolls that make them part of the problem is that they have a significant following that resembles more of a mob than a group of discerning, rational humans.

Look no further than Knoxville, TN, and Clay Travis if you need proof. Clay and his ‘mob’ put the kibosh on the Greg Schiano hire (which ultimately led to the AD being fired as he was in the process of hiring Mike Leach). Now Jeremy Pruitt’s seat is hotter than the Sun and UT is 5-9 in their 14 games with a loss to Georgia State since all of that happened... so maybe it is not the greatest idea to let the inmates run the asylum.

While that UT situation is the cherry on top of the bile flavored sundae, there are still significant influences from social media in the stories on websites and topics on radio stations. Recently a UK sports radio show was discussing the criticism that QB Terry Wilson was getting after just 1 game. The sources for this supposed fan sentiment are social media and message boards (which are the breeding ground for A LOT of the Twitter Twerps by the way), and as you will see below, the opinion of those on Twitter is worth about as much as you have to pay for the app.

There is also the counter-productive practice of quoting the most awful tweets from fans to try and ‘expose’ them or to really show them how wrong they were by throwing them to the masses. This does nothing exact accomplish 2 things; 1) the idiot on the creating end gets exactly what he/she wants, a gigantic audience and 2) it makes the fanbase look terrible and paints it with a giant brush, attaching the idiot/bigot/troll/garbage person’s view to an entire fanbase to others.

You might think that exposing these people is a good thing, but I can guarantee you that not one single person who has decided to spew venom on the internet was looking for *less* viewers when the hit the tweet button. By taking an inappropriate/horrible tweet away from their world of 20-40 followers and slapping it in front of hundreds of thousands of people you are not only feeding Gizmo after midnight, but you are also throwing him in the pool.

To my second point, many of the sports bloggers who have large follower numbers have a significant amount of people following them from other fanbases and/or national sports pundits. Those people now correlate the fanbase to the garbage person/people. Is it unfair, sure... but it is the absolute truth.

THE NUMBERS

I have always had the opinion that the Twitter people are a really loud, and outspoken, yet very small portion of a fanbase. I did not know just how small that portion was until recently. On my drive home I was listening to ESPN Radio with Sarah Spain and they were discussing just this topic while referencing this NY Post study.  The information correlated to a number even lower than I thought.

There are around $327 Million People in America as of 2018. According to Gallup, the number of people in American who are sports fans is about 60% of the population, or around 196 Million People (for easy math we’ll use 200 million). This 60% number has been very steady since about 2001 so it is a pretty solid amount to use.

The number of Americans who are on Twitter is only 22%, meaning the vast majority of Americans, 78% are *NOT* on Twitter at all. Here is the crazy part, of the 22% of Americans who are on Twitter, only 10% of them generate over 80% of all content on the site. The culmination of that math means that around 2% of Americans are represented by 80% of the tweets on the entire site.

The rough number of sports fans that are driving 80% of the tweets consists of somewhere between that 2% and 3.3%. It is likely to be closer to 2%.

Two percent of the population is about 6.5 million people. If you took the entirety of those 6.5 million people and decided that they were 100% sports fans who were only tweeting about sports, that would mean that 3.3% of the 200 Million Sports fans drive 80% of the tweets.

Had you asked me prior to learning this what percentage of fans I thought were active on social media, I would have thought around 10%, turns out that number is even lower.

So, next time you see someone on Twitter going at a recruit or a player, or a coach or you see someone ‘exposing’ a garbage person’s opinion just remember to give it about 2% of your time because that’s about the weight of the fanbase that it correlates to.

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Stop Allowing Social Media to Define a Fanbase

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