How, for better or worse, has social media affected your daily job activities?
I originally tried Facebook but found it too time consuming and too public. I was looking for some way to communicate with fellow professionals and not former classmates or shirttail relatives. Twitter has been a great way to follow industry folks and I’ve come to appreciate the many active posters. Twitter is not overwhelming but the platform still kind of intimidates me, so mostly I lurk. It’s a great way to hear from and see photos from, in real time, colleagues fighting the same fights we are.
Mike Andresen, CSFM, Director of Facilities and Grounds, Iowa State athletics department
I have embraced Twitter for my social media use. I joined Twitter about a year and half ago, and have loved it. It a great way to connect to other sports turf managers, see what they are doing, and exchange ideas. I have gained vendors by the use of Twitter. My external communications director at Worcester Academy retweets my posts for use on the Academy’s Twitter feed. It’s a great way to show off my skills, and also to show some of the issues that we have. I have connected to turf professors, professional venue sports turf managers, golf course superintendents, and vendors.
Ben Polimer, Sports Turf Manager, Worcester (MA) Academy
Your question mentions “daily activities”; I wouldn’t say any of them are daily for me. I have thought about prioritizing daily interaction but have not since most is “social.” My hope for daily interface would be more with intent to inform, educate, etc. I do like to observe when I can to keep myself informed and educated to current events/issues.
Mostly I use them to connect and stay connected to the industry and other professionals. I try to be prepared to help or be helped.
The job change I just made was because of an STMA contact I met 18 years ago that reached out to me on LinkedIn.
Facebook and Twitter can be used the same way to network the “fraternity” of like passionate professionals and friends. Many times homeowners or coaches look for help this way.
UT Extension in Nashville has a helpful Facebook page. You know how it is. Daily is a commitment but having social media as another tool in the toolbag is most accurate. I use these tools to promote STMA resources/events/people. I also use them to support cultural practices.
Martin Kaufman, CSFM, GCA Services Grounds Manager
Using social media should be part of your daily job activities. Social media has allowed me to share sportsturf stories and ask questions about ideas to people around the world. I say world because what and how we manage our fields in the USA is the same thing they are doing in Australia, UK, Singapore etc. We are all trying to make our fields better and safer for our communities. If you’re not using some type of social media platform, you are missing out on some great opportunities to exchange information with your peers. It’s also a great way to share what our industry does to the general public. Sharing news via Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, about pulling the tarp to mowing new patterns creates positive energy that allows people to comment and see how we deal with adversity and celebrate our successes. Communicating via social media is another tool for the sportsturf manager that will open professional and personal growth opportunities.
Murray Cook, President, Sportsturf Services, Brickman Group
I think social media is great for the industry. I enjoy the sharing of ideas and maintenance practices from across the country and the world. I find it interesting to see how others manage their fields and seeing how it may or may not relate to my situation. Being able to make connections and start conversations with other managers only helps me become a better manager myself
Brian Winka, CSFM, Supervisor at City of Chesterfield
The simplest reason that I use social media is to promote and advertise our turf program at Texas Tech. We have a very small program, and many people in this region don’t know that we have a turf program or that you can get a degree in turf management, so I try to promote a lot of events, my student, our alumni and the positive aspects of their current jobs.
I went to Mississippi State for my undergraduate and master’s degree and our athletic teams were generally around the bottom of the SEC year in and year out. We never came close to selling out a football game any of the years I was at MSU. We got a new athletic director who completely changed a lot of aspects about how the athletic department was run. There was a big push for a fun “fan experience,” and one of the items they started to engage in was social media. Mississippi State was one of the first big athletic groups to use social media to promote the brand they were building. Social media alone did not change anything drastically, but a combination of different coaches, good players, and social media to create some buzz around the program has completely changed athletics at Mississippi State. They sold out football games the past 3-4 years to where they added more seats to the stadium. Seeing the benefit of social media and how it completely changed the atmosphere around our athletic program was pretty amazing.
Dr. Joey Young, Assistant Professor of Turfgrass, Texas Tech
For me social media has set a precedent that I struggle to keep up with; while completing jobs my first priority is the customers’ needs and I don’t think about social media until it is late. Too often I get asked for before and after pictures, the after are easy, the before is not something I am good at getting, as I am there to do a task. During my busy season it is hard enough to keep up with all the paperwork let alone staying up with social media. I applaud those who can wrangle all of it.
Jim Cornelius, CSFM, Services Manager, FSC Pro Services
At Elon University, our Physical Plant and Athletic Department both have Facebook and Twitter accounts. They are used to post the latest news surrounding activities on-campus. News is posted as the events are approaching and happening to share information with followers. Instant feedback on how fields are looking, staff accomplishments, as well as up-to-the-minute goings on, are shared. Although I do not use social media much personally, I do recognize the importance of staying involved with these outlets professionally in order to keep my department engaged in a way that is relevant to many of our partners and users.
Scott Stevens, CSFM, Sports Turf Manager, Elon University
We have started official Instagram and Twitter accounts for the University of Arizona Facilities Management Grounds Services Department. We use them as an avenue to showcase the work our staff does around campus, project updates and anything we think looks beautiful or interesting. The response has been very positive and it has been an effective way to showcase the positive impact we have on the appearance of campus. It gives us a channel to interact with people in the campus community we wouldn’t normally cross paths with, and gives an opportunity to show people all the things Grounds Services does that people may not realize or take for granted. I have also found social media to be a beneficial learning tool to see what other people are doing to their fields, how they deal with events and the challenges of weather. I am able to post from my iPad, so the time commitment is minimal and I know our staff gets excited when a post gets a strong response from the public. It’s been good for morale.
Matt Anderson, CSFM, Grounds Superintendent, University of Arizona
Those who use social media correctly are a great benefit to me. Sharing information that is helpful and useful in making me more informed will always get my attention. Posts showing new or proven methods of turf maintenance or other industry-related clips help keep me up-to-date on what is happening in this dynamic industry within which we work. If it has value, I’ll instantaneously share with my colleagues and customers. Another benefit with social media!
What better way to learn about new methods or new products than viewing short video clips or photos found on social media sites. What doesn’t work for me is shameless promotions of a vendors’ goods or services. That, simply put, is junk mail. In this day and age, sharing information has become so easy and far-reaching. Advancements in information technology and the proper use of social media have played a significant role in that. Remember the ‘90s?!
Joe Churchill, Sports Turf Manager, Reinders, Inc.
Albion College has a Communications Department, with a specialist who monitors social media for anything posted about the college. He monitors Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Yik Yak, and about 15 others. The college does support individual, college-related, social media accounts. We have to agree to a standard of conduct. Faculty and staff that participate in social media have a Twitter and/or Facebook account. I am the administrator for the Twitter account for the Facilities Department.
Twitter has allowed the Facilities Department a quick way to share campus information with the student body. It has not been a burden on me because of the limit of 140 characters breaks down any anxiety or writer’s block. Also, multiple divisions within Facilities send what they would like posted, by email. I do not post any opinions, just the facts.
I experimented with blogging and Facebook. The challenge I faced with blogging was the pressure I inflicted on myself to author flawless, non-controversial articles. I just didn’t have the time. The Facebook account became a contact administrative challenge because the “Friend Requests” exploded. Plus, the platform does not have a character limit, so I was fighting writer’s block again.
Warning: Yik Yak can be interesting but be prepared for anonymous criticism that is not friendly. Especially, near a college campus.
Mark Frever, CSFM Director of Grounds, Albion College
Social media is a powerful tool in today’s world. I focus on two main platforms. The first is my SmartTurf Blog (www.janddturf.blogspot.com). The blog serves as an interactive educational platform for coaches, educators, parents and grounds managers. The blog creates a “library” of information that can be shared when necessary. The second is Twitter. I manage two accounts, both accounts are business focused. @J_DTurf is geared toward quick hitting educational tweets. @JamieMehringer is geared toward my sportsturf travels, education and my best friend, Gilroy.
Finally, social media has also allowed me to keep in touch with friends and clients in the sports turf industry. It is a great give and take to stay aware of industry trends and news.
Jamie Mehringer, President, J&D Turf
Social media has improved the ability to respond quickly, react to changing market trends, and showcase new technologies.
It allows access for anyone 24/7. In a world of instant gratification, social media allows you to connect at your convenience.