We participated in a panel discussion Tuesday morning that focused, in part, on social media. We talked about how it is evolving, how it is used in media and how much of using it ultimately comes down to common sense.
It seems there are daily reminders of the evolution and common sense part of it, with the Twins' official Twitter account giving us another case study on Wednesday. As part of a back-and-forth with the Braves' official account, there was the following exchange: The Twins' account tweeted a picture of a Kent Hrbek jersey hanging in Atlanta's park. The Braves responded with "Leave it there, we'll SWEEP it up for you!" in reference to Atlanta taking all three games of the series. The Twins responded with this:
The tweet drew quite a bit of reaction, with nearly 500 retweets and more than 350 favorites as of this morning. It also caused plenty of folks on Twitter to wonder if it was appropriate to talk trash on two levels: Should the Twins boast of a World Series title 22 years ago when they're in the midst of an eight-game losing streak ... and should the official account engage in what could be construed as banter but also could be taken for trash talk?
Our take again takes us back to that grey area of common sense and understanding the moment -- which, in the world of every second matters, is what Twitter is all about. Regardless of whether the Twins had won eight in a row or lost eight in a row, we think the final tweet might have seemed out of place (it would have needed to be amended, of course, to read something like "after we're done SWEEPING you, we'll dust this off"). But it seemed particularly tone deaf based on the timing. That was a memorable World Series, one of the best in MLB history, but the Twitter audience that is seeing the tweet is frustrated after a blowout loss. They are in no mood to brag. And bringing up glory from a generation ago is a cheap form of retort -- akin to Packers fans in 2009 boasting of past Super Bowls as Brett Favre was dominating for the Vikings. The fact that it came as part of a back-and-forth makes it a little more palatable, but again much of the audience only focuses in on the final tweet.
We were curious, though, to hear what folks with the Twins thought of it. We had a good e-mail exchange Wednesday evening with team President Dave St. Peter -- an active tweeter himself -- about his take. Here is an excerpt of what he had to say after looking at the exchange:
We see it as playful banter with the Braves and a bit of levity with the rivals from 1991. That said, it’s my assumption that the fan “reaction” you refer to is largely coming from the Twins fan base. Is this correct? If so, I assume the playful banter with the Braves has some Twins fans irritated that the Twins are “living in the past” instead of being committed to win in 2013. The reality is that the message you referred to in your e-mail was a lighthearted response to a specific lighthearted tweet sent to the Twins by the Braves. Nothing more, nothing less.
Perhaps the lesson learned here is that while it’s a wonderful communications tool, Twitter has its shortcomings. Many times people see a single tweet and react without having full context or perspective. To that end, the Twins response to the Braves had unintended consequences (mainly setting off a group of frustrated Twins fans). Rest assured, everyone with the Twins organization is frustrated with the current losing streak. Moreover, we fully understand our past on-field successes mean little to a new generation of fans who want to see their Twins bring home another World Championship.
We agree with St. Peter on many points and really don't have a problem with an official account having some personality, but we'd still say this: Even as part of a response to another tweet, it strikes the wrong note given the current state of the franchise. A tweet with more humility would have made a world of difference.
Your thoughts, please, in the comments.