HD: Social media sidebars: Need another platform?
DK: Sure, Facebook is a global juggernaut and Twitter dominates the golf maintenance industry. But it’s not the only social media app turf pros are using.
By Matt LaWell
Facebook remains the most popular social media app in the world. No surprise there. But believe it or not, Twitter is not second on the list. No, despite the best efforts of #TurfTwitter, the app that long ago featured the Fail Whale whenever servers came up short is 15th globally and 10th among those headquartered and used in the United States and North America — behind Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Telegram and Pinterest. With about 436 million monthly active users, it just barely tops Reddit.
Are any of those other platforms ideal for the turf community?
Reno Aces head groundskeeper Leah Withrow logged on to TikTok during the 2020-21 offseason, when “we were bored, we still couldn’t go out, and the winter weather in Nevada was crappy.” Since then, she has vaulted to the top of an admittedly small group of #TurfTok regulars. Withrow uses the app more as a video editing tool, a place to mesh together days or weeks of progress videos and share her and her crew’s work.
“All I’m doing is taking videos I already have on my camera roll — time-lapsing mowing patterns or doing edgework — and then finding a sound or some music to collage it all together,” she says. “That’s 70 percent of it. The other 30 percent is just scrolling through TikTok, hearing a sound and thinking, ‘I could probably dub that and make it relatable.’”
Withrow (@leahlou2 on Twitter, @leahlou775 on TikTok) seems to discover “little life hacks” whenever she logs onto the app, but her social media efforts have paid off in more measurable ways, too: A pair of students at the University of Nevada, Reno discovered her TikTok videos, contacted her, interviewed for positions and are now a part of the part-time gameday staff.
“I know so many kids would be interested in turf management,” Withrow says. “Putting it on a platform for high school and college kids who are figuring out what they want to do for the rest of their lives, I just hope that brings more curiosity and more excitement toward the turf industry.”
Donovan Maguigan opts for an even more popular app — at least globally. The superintendent at Springdale Golf Club in Princeton, New Jersey, since December 2018, the photography buff signed up for Instagram back in 2013. It has been a big part of his social media schedule ever since.
Maguigan (@McBuckeyeAT on both Twitter and Instagram) owns a decade-old Nikon but normally snaps with his iPhone and has been incorporating more drone shots. A club committee even asked him for some of his favorite shots to redecorate the clubhouse.
Why has a visual industry not embraced a more visual social media platform?
“There’s less transparency on Instagram,” Maguigan says. “Instagram really does have that (feeling): This is your best life, your perfect version of everything. Instagram could use a healthy dose of people being more transparent. You can carefully curate photos and still show the struggles and the challenges that we face in this industry. Your membership and your players have to understand that it’s not all mowing lasers and perfect dew patterns. There is stuff out there that’s a challenge every day, and Instagram is a good medium to showcase that.”
For the turf community, Maguigan says, “I think Instagram will have more staying power than TikTok, but as far as how the world goes, I think TikTok will surpass Instagram.”
And what will it take for TurfTok to rise to the top of the social media hierarchy?
“It’s just going to have to be the younger generation doing it,” Withrow says. “Until the (older) guys kind of filter out and the younger guys who have grown up with social media and are more comfortable with social media replace them, I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of (people on TikTok).”
Matt LaWell is Golf Course Industry’s managing editor.
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