The Slow Lessons That Social Media Is Teaching Rugby League

Twitter is an incredible resource that is like a gold mine for anyone that knows how to use it properly.

Personally, Twitter had been amazing for my web site. It is a completely open forum that allows me to contact a large user base of people who are interested in Rugby League. I can send out a message and it can be read by anyone that has a mobile phone.

Twitter has allowed me to interact with people I never would have normally got a chance to talk to. I’ve met new people through it, and talked to long time readers who bring up things I’ve written on this web site years ago.

It is no surprise to me at all that the use of Twitter has seen the number of hits on my site skyrocket.

The reason for this is pretty simple. I’m fishing where the fish are. I can focus the promotion of my web site towards Rugby League fans, and at the same time draw in people just looking for a good read.

I find it amazing that most Rugby League clubs just do not understand how to use Twitter, or the internet in general, and how badly they fail to engage with their fan bases through social media.

I have more followers on Twitter than the official Penrith Panthers twitter account. That’s insane!

I am one person, independent of any sort of mainstream media outlet. I’m not on Television or Radio. I don’t have a marketing team, I don’t have a staff. I should in no way be even close to how many followers the Penrith Panthers have, and yet, I’ve got more!

I think it comes down to entertainment and giving people what they want.

People want to use social media to interactive with their club. They want to feel like they are talking with someone at the club who can actually make a difference and be their voice.

Social media isn’t just about giving people dates and times for events. In truth, most of that stuff gets ignored anyway by people. How many times do you see a Tweet about a club event and just brush over it? Social media is about making a connection with people, maintaining that connection, and making a fan for life.

I offered to run the Penrith Panthers official Twitter feed for free until such time as I got 10,000 followers, at which point, I’d want to be paid. I got no response.

Hey….I tried….

Most club feeds are utterly boring. They have little to no interaction between the club and fans. They don’t generate buzz or interest. They are an afterthought and I think that is because most clubs are run by people that don’t understand what this whole internet thing is all about.

Players on Twitter are a bit more successful when it comes to using social media, although it can be hit and miss for them as well.

It is so easy to say something stupid on Twitter, to make a bad joke or even to just say something that people take the wrong way (The latter of which happened to me not long ago!).

One thing players have to deal with is the fact that people are interacting with them personally, and therefore can target them in personal attacks.

Willie Mason has been dealing with this in the last 48 hours.

He had a few people trying to draw him into an argument, and he jumped right in, trading insults with with. He later claimed that he had lost his phone, and found it again, and someone had obviously hacked his Twitter account, but that just made people chuckle.

I tend to not follow Rugby League players because when you do, you realize how stupid most of them are, and it just gets depressing. I mean, how many times can you read a player’s hope that God will makes them a better, humble person, before seeing them Tweet about how everyone should buy some boots from their sponsors?

I don’t think we have yet to see a current NRL player really take advantage of Twitter with an eye on furthering their career. Most use it as a personal outlet, which is fine, but it will be interesting when we see the first player having a real strategy on how they use Twitter for their own personal gain.

Finding that fine line between entertainment, promotion and interaction is very difficult for most within Rugby League. Some do it better than others, while most do it poorly.

I tend to think overall, Rugby League could be doing a hell of a lot better when engaging with fans through social media. When they work social media out, they will find the rewards for their club are immense.

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