It is safe to say that athletes of all sports and levels have taken to twitter; everyone from seasoned veterans to minor leaguers have opted to become a part of the gigantic social network. Athletes are trying to connect with fans but my question is, why are we connecting with the athletes?
When I first joined twitter a couple of years ago, I began following many athletes due to my heavy interest in sports and after a few weeks, I became incredibly disappointed. Almost all of the tweets sounded something like “heading dwnstairs 4 breakfast” or “Great workout 2DAY #PUMPEDUP” which provided little to no value and caused me to give up on twitter for a while. Thankfully, I came to my senses and it has now become such a valuable part of my personal learning network.
Back to the question at hand – Why do people follow athletes on Twitter? The answer is something known as the “exposure effect.” In the 19th century, a psychologist named Gustav Fechner discovered this phenomenon; he found that the more we are exposed to something or someone, the more we trust it, and the more we like it. This is the same reason why we feel more comfortable around friends than strangers. Essentially, people are inclined to feel as though they personally know athletes they see frequently.
By following a twitter feed with multiple athletes often from the same team, the consistent and repeated exposure is causing fans to be more likely to trust and like them. For the die-hard Atlanta Braves fan, it creates an unparalleled experience of being close to your favorite team by following @FreddieFreeman, @JasonHeyward and the rest of the team. They start to feel more like friends and less like athletes you can never become close with.
Do you follow any athletes on twitter?