Due to several flukes of childhood, I’m a fan of New York’s major losing franchises: the Jets and the Mets. I know the Red Sox fans like to think of themselves as long-suffering, but you people have nothing on the hapless franchise that is the New York Jets.
How bad are my teams? Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal devoted a front-page story to the Mets’ long-time head of PR Jay Horowitz calling him the King of the Butt Dial. In the first paragraph Brian Costa managed to insult both of my teams at once:
During their disappointing 2012 season, the Jets became known for the butt fumble, caused by quarterback Mark Sanchez‘s unfortunate collision with teammate Brandon Moore’s rear end. Across town, the Mets are countering with a derrière distinction of their own: the butt dialer.
Sure, the teams have their on-the-field problems, and as Todd rightly points out, no amount of “PR” can fix their core “business problems.” Nevertheless, the Jets can certainly do better with the social media efforts. In fact, the Jets could take a lesson from the Mets.
OK, so Jay isn’t the greatest with technology. Costa notes how a few of Jay’s Tweets are rather… um… odd:
…just before the start of spring training, he tweeted a photo of himself shirtless in a swimming pool, buoyed by a tube and a pair of floaties, with goggles over his eyes and a snorkel lodged in his mouth. Other tweets have included such updates as “Hy” and “Congrats to $.” On March 2, he simply tweeted the letter O.
But frankly, Jay’s Twitter feed is awesome. He brings you behind the scenes of the Mets world with quick snippits and pictures that you’re not going to find in the mainstream media. Like, now I know that Al Leiter drinks a TON of Starbucks Coffee.
— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) March 26, 2013
The Jets, meanwhile, put out a Tweet on the week before free agency began saying ”Free agency begins tomorrow. The Jets priority should be _________.” (sic)
Free agency begins tomorrow. The Jets priority should be _________.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) March 11, 2013
No, seriously, they said that. Never mind the grammatical issues, but it gave everyone–fans and non-fans alike–the chance to just beat on the Jets. Buzzfeed went so far as to collect the 25 best responses. One of my favorites? Caitlin Kelly of the New Yorker answered “A new social media coordinator.”
Now, if the Jets had done this in a self-deprecating manner, sure, it could work. This isn’t the first time the social media team has pulled this kind of move. Toward the end of the season, after the “butt fumble” and while the team was going down in flames, the Jets Facebook page continued to be populated with standard-issue rah-rah team images asking fans to “caption this!”
Um… yeah guys… not what you want to do at that moment.
One of the greatest examples of a site that “gets it” is The 7 Line, a site by fans and for fans of the Mets. They get the love/ hate aspect of rooting for a losing team. I love the Born to Believe shirts. They also had a baby shirt a few years ago saying “I was born into this mess.”
So, how can the Jets improve things a bit? Well, besides getting rid of their social media coordinator, maybe they can take a different attitude.
- Show us life behind the scenes — How about using Instagram or just a cell phone camera to introduce us to the support staff? What about the coaches most of us never see? I’d also like to know about the players. Well, maybe not as much of Brett Favre, but what is everyone else doing?
- Bring us to the game — TV is great at showing the field, but the game is more about the people around me. It’s about the tailgating parties, it’s about the parking lot. Whenever I walked up to Giants Stadium there was a line of buses and vans that people use almost exclusively for games. Show me some of that.
- Acknowledge the failings — Nothing is perfect, certainly not the Jets. Acknowledge that, and not just in official quotes from the the press conference. Show us that you’re upset too. That no, the team isn’t performing the way it should, that you’re frustrated by interceptions, commiserate with me! Be a FAN!
The fact is this: you’re not going to sell more tickets through social media, the best you can do is keep fans engaged while the business puts a sub-par product on the field. You’re not going to sell more items with the product logo, you’re not going to sell out more games, you’re not going to improve the TV ratings.
But maybe, just maybe, you can sell a few self-deprecating t-shirts. Or a bobble head similar to the one CBS Sports proposed that the Mets make for Bobby Bonilla.