Archive for April, 2009

Social Media in Sports: How the Minnesota Timberwolves Are Connecting and Succeeding

April 10, 2009 2 comments

If you haven’t noticed on twitter or facebook, professional sports organizations and athletes are taking an interest in using social media to further enhance their reach and their brand.

Teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves have done a very good job with utilizing it to connect with fans on twitter through real-time game updates, promotions and giveaways, and team news updates. Here are some of the examples of how the Timberwovles have connected with fans through twitter.

At the end of February, the Timberwolves gave away a suite with 22 tickets for the Wolves v. TrailBlazers game on twitter. All you had to do was include a specific hashtag replying to the Timberwolves twitter account. I already had tickets to that game; I still sent a reply to the Wolves since a chance at a free suite is too much to pass up. Since I am mentioning this, it means that I ended up winning the suite for the game and 21 of my friends. Not only did the Wolves give me 22 tickets for a suite, Scott Spiridigliozzi, Manager of Interactive Services for the Timberwolves and one of the people behind the Timberwolves account, gave me a gift bag including a team poster, t-shirt, warmup jersey shirt highlighting the old Timberwolves logo, and a personalized card thanking me for participating in the twitter giveaway. Talk about going above and beyond to make myself and my friends happy. It was a very fun night with many friends, depsite the outcome. I would not have not had access to a suite without social media.

Last Sunday, the Timberwolves organized the first ever Timberwolves Tweetup in conjunction with Champps, a key sponsor of the Timberwolves. At the tweetup, all attendees were given a free upper-level ticket to the game, free beer was available for the 21 and over crowd, along with light appetizers and a chance at an upgrade to a pair of lower level seats.  The turnout for the tweetup was around 30 people. Most likely, those are people that would have not attended the game if it weren’t for the tweetup. The cost of the tweetup was a keg of domestic beer and for the light appetizers. As their tweetups become more established and recognized, this may become one of their main promotions, all because of social media.

Not all sports teams are using twitter like the Timberwolves. Most keep it to updates about the team, updates during the game, and do not interact with people.  Some of the players of the Timberwolves have created twitter accounts, including Mark Madsen, Brian Cardinal, Randy Foye, Mike Miller, and Kevin Love.

Other athletes in other professional sports are utilizing twitter to connect with fans. Lance Armstrong frequently updates his posts with pictures from where he is training, who he is meeting with about his Livestrong foundation, and occasionally replies to close friends. Shaquille O’Neal uses twitter to give away tickets to road games to the first twitter user to find him whereever he and the Phoenix Suns are playing at.

Athletes and celebrities gain high numbers of followers very quickly because of who they are and not because they provide relevant content, create or contribute to the conversation, or are true influencers. Common twitter users often feel that they are ‘friends’ of these celebrities, despite the lack of reciprocal following. Most everyone follows a few athletes, celebrities, even politicians. Who do you follow? Why do you follow them? Do they follow you back? Have you ever had them respond to a message or @ reply you sent them?

~Jason Douglas

twitter: @jasondouglas


Running With the Wolves 5K Recap

Today was the day where I finally tested myself in a race situation. This was not part of the original plan; the Minneapolis Half-Marathon was to be my racing debut. Thanks to my marathon running friend, Kenny, he informed me of ‘Run With the Wolves 5K‘ early this week. Upon hearing about it, I instantly signed up. I have not timed myself once since I started running; this race was going to provide me with the benchmark to establish my goal for future races.

Leading up to this morning, I did not get the night of rest I had hoped for. Staying out a little later than I had planned, my phone kept ringing after 1:30am. Not in the mood to talk, I finally fell asleep around 3am. Race time was only 6.5 hours away.

I woke up only getting four hours of sleep, but I felt really good. I chose to take two days off from running to allow my body to be fully rested. I had a banana and wheaties for breakfast around 8am, leaving me an hour and a half until race time. Check in was easy since I had preregistered. I grabbed my bag of goodies which included a game ticket for the Wolves/Nuggets game tomorrow, a 2008-2009 team yearbook, some Gatorade products for after the race, and other promotional propaganda. Before the race, there was a contest to see if anyone could guess how many hours of sleep current Timberwolves player Mark Madsen got last night. After a couple minutes of guessing, I guessed ‘4:15’, which was close enough, winning me a $50 gift certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods. Bling!

After some relaxing with the crew, it was race time. My goal was to not take any walking breaks. Based on pure guesswork, I had myself pegged for running ten-minute miles (had not been timing my runs); start, run, finish; that was the plan.

I had never run around Lake Harriet; I am used to the flatter confines of Lake Calhoun, or the flatlands of Hopkins. Lake Harriet has some decent uphill parts to the course which were a nice test for me. I used the downhill parts as my ‘break’ within the race, a strategy I will use in future runs.  I kept a nice, steady pace throughout the race. My legs never felt fatigued, further verifying I need to start pushing myself further. I kept seeking out landmarks along the course to use as a ‘checkpoint’. I hope I do not have to keep doing that to motivate myself. At the end of the race, I felt a sense of accomplishment, finishing the race how I wanted to: start, run, finish. I now know how it will feel to cross the finish line.

Now for the analysis of the race: I felt good during the whole race. My right trapezius felt tight from the halfway point on; that has happened a couple times before, not sure what that is from (there is no soreness now), my lungs felt good, my pace was consistent; overall, the experience was solid. The only negative to come of this: there was a guy that was sprinting as far as he could, then walked when he was tired. This was repeated four or five times. I thought the tortoise (me) would beat the hare (other guy). Unfortunately, sprint walking guy sprinted past me in the last 50 meters. I was not too happy about that.

My official time was 30 minutes and 14 seconds for a 9 minute and 45 second per mile pace. That slightly exceeded my expectations of ten minute miles.  If I was to keep that pace during the half-marathon, I would complete that race in 2 hours 7 minutes and 40 seconds. Long term, I would like to get below 9 minutes per mile; that might take a little while.

After the race, Ken, Alex, and myself got the chance to talk with Mark Madsen about twitter (he’s now following me… bling!), basketball, and other random things. He’s a very nice guy and was very accessible. We also got a photo with him. I can not wait to get the photos of today from Brit. Thanks to Brit and Marlee for taking pics!

Thanks to everyone for the kind and encouraging words. Today was a step closer to the half-marathon. 57 days away, but who is counting?

~Jason Douglas

twitter: @jasondouglas

2009 First Quarter Grades: Goals/Resolutions

April 1, 2009 1 comment

We are three full months into the 2009 calendar year, and a lot has happened in my life. However great that may be, I can not forget about the goals I set for the year on January 1. Tonight is my opportunity to evaluate how I have done, where I stand, and what to look forward to in the next quarter of 2009.

  • Move Out: Still in the same living situation as I was before. I originally had April 1 as my move out date; that ended up being a nice April Fools joke. I still have full intentions of moving out; it is just not happening when I originally thought. Maybe my expectations were too high. Regardless, I said April 1. Grade: F.
  • Improve Overall Health: This is one that I have done a lot of positive with. I am training for a half-marathon and my eating habits have improved, which has led me to lose 16 pounds. I started the year at 212, and as of last weigh in, was 196. I am fitting into jeans that I originally bought because they were so cheap, but just a bit too tight. Then again, many of my shirts, pants/jeans, and suits don’t fit as well anymore. This is a good problem to have. Despite all that, I can do more. I can run more, workout more, eat better. May 31 is the date of the Minneapolis half-marathon, and I am running in the Run with the Wolves 5K on Saturday. I need to be in better overall shape to do well in both races and in any other that I may sign up for in the next couple months. Grade B+/A-
  • Smile More In Pictures: I have not had too many pictures taken of me recently. I don’t know why I put this as a goal. Grade: incomplete
  • Blog: I’ve created it, updated it, and maintained it. There was a stretch of a few weeks in February where I was a little busy dealing with a job transition that kept me from posting anything. I did not want to let any clues out that I was leaving. Another nice thing about the blog: it has improved my presence in the search world. This blog last ranked #17 on Google’s SERP for Jason Douglas. Before this, the highest mention of me was on the 11th page. I need to write about a wider variety of topics, both personal and professional. Grade: B
  • Eat Out Less: This has always been a struggle for me. The last two days, I had brought food to the office, yet, I ate out, and spent $22 for no reason. What did I benefit from those two outings that I would not have had otherwise? I have improved and do not eat out all the time. I may have to start an allowance for this, and really teach myself how to conserve. Leftover budget would go to saving for something I really want (iPhone). Grade: D
  • Improve Money Management: The eat out less goal has not gone as planned; I am spending less on other frivolous items. Basing my spending habits on material things I need vs. want has helped. Sure, life is a little less exciting; I look in my closet, and realize that is about 60% of what I own and wear on a regular basis, I look at the shoes I have, and everything else in my room; I am doing just fine. Grade: C+
  • Ask Questions: I feel I am still struggling with this one. I was just becoming ‘comfortable’ at my old job when I decided to jump ship. For some reason, I am reverting back to the quiet side I showed when I began at the old job. I have improved from where I was; that did not take much. I’ll get there someday. Grade: D
  • Become More Giving: I have not volunteered my time with any charitable organizations to date. That is what I had envisioned for this goal. What I have done is become someone people come to for help with career questions, social media questions, etc.  I have helped a few people become part of twitter and LinkedIn. Professionals are referring people to me to help them with their career search. I never thought I would be regarded as someone to go to for help. It has been fun helping people establish themselves, learn about themselves, and share any tips that have helped me along my journey. There is always more one can do. Grade: B
  • Quit Drinking: I said this one would be easy. I have been sober since December 27, 2008. It has been easy. A friend recently told me he did not go work out because he felt too hung over from the night before. That is the exact reason why I quit in the first place: the night you drink you become worthless; the day after, there is a good chance you become worthless. Two days wasted all because you had a few too many. Most people are understanding of what I am doing; some even admit they have taken an extended hiatus from drinking. A few others do not seem to get it, and that is fine. I am doing this so I can get to where I want to be. Even when I finish the half-marathon on May 31, that does not mean that I will have a beer in my hand after crossing the finish line. Grade: A++

There is my analysis of how I have done in the first quarter of 2009. Based on my tough grading, my GPA is 2.25, which on a four point scale, equals just above a C for the quarter. The saying: “c’s get degrees” does not apply here. A grade of a C is very disappointing. I knew this before, and I especially know this now: I am nowhere near where I want to be.

I am happy, but I can be happier.

~Jason Douglas

twitter: @jasondouglas