Rethinking social


April 10, 2019

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I’ve read or heard several things from turfheads recently who believe that the value of social media, particularly Twitter, is waning. These are some very smart cats saying this stuff, so I think it’s important to examine what’s going on in social world these days.

First, every platform evolves. The technology changes, they add new stuff and predictably they will constantly try to find new ways to monetize things. That’s one very important distinction between Facebook and Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg has monetized the bejeezus off Facebook, but the Twitter people never really have found the golden goose. Despite the giant, crazy, world-changing platform they built, they can’t seem to make big money off it.

Because of that, a lot of tech analysts think Twitter eventually will die or get absorbed into something else. I hope not because it’s still by far the best platform for the kind of interchange and idea-sharing that helps superintendents thrive in today’s wacky environment.

Yes, Twitter is flawed. It lends itself to arguments, and too many companies and other media outlets bombard y’all with ads and sponsored tweets. GCI does social media partnerships with industry partners, but we try to make them educational, or at least fun, rather than just vomiting out a string of #sponsored commercials.

And Twitter can be dominated by a few loud or angry voices. Sure, it’s important to hear differing opinions, but not if it makes you crazy. My advice is to unfollow with extreme prejudice when people are using the platform to be abusive or angry. I also won’t follow anonymous, fake or “parody” accounts, because if you won’t put your name on your opinion, I won’t listen to it. If I want the truth about turf, I want to hear it from people I know and trust, not some nameless keyboard warrior. One exception: I do follow and enjoy @grumpysuper because it’s fun, positive and a good example of the type of empathy that keeps up all sane in turf world.

So, yes, I agree that the overall appeal of Twitter is fading … but that doesn’t mean you should write it off. Thus, instead of decrying social media, let’s figure out how to use it better. Let’s talk about the meaning of the word “curation.”

Our friends at Wikipedia define it this way: “Content curation is the process of gathering information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. Services or people that implement content curation are called curators.”

In short, use your knowledge of a topic to selectively share information for a purpose. Fundamentally, too many of us just don’t think like that on social media. We just react; we like, comment or share on an impulse. Instead, think about social as one more aspect of how you build your personal brand. What you share is a key indicator of who you are. What major themes are you repeating to remind people of your values and expertise?

It seems to me that turf professionals can make the most of social media by thinking carefully about how they want to be perceived by members, customers, co-workers and colleagues, and then curating social content around things that boost that perception. Want to be thought of as environmentally responsible? Highlight your Audubon International programming or other ways you’re focused on sustainability. Want to be considered a leader? Promote your chapter’s BMP efforts and other key programs. Just remember that your social presence can and should be a very positive representation of who you are as a professional and as a person.

Think about a curation strategy that fits your personal brand or other needs (e.g., promoting your facility as a great place to work). Write down a few simple topics or themes you want to focus on and stick them on a note next to your computer. Before you share something, stop and check yourself: Does this support my curation plan? If it does, fire away. If it doesn’t, think twice.

Twitter isn’t dying any time soon (although I do believe that Instagram and Instagram Stories will be the next big platform particularly among younger folks), so let’s make the most of it while we can. Keep it positive, have a plan and stick to it. Also, don’t lose sight of the incredible value of the global art and science of greenkeeping that’s always being discussed 24/7 on social media. Sure, it’s nuts sometimes, but focus on the good stuff and resist the urge to throw out the social media baby with the digital bath water.

Pat Jones is the editor-at-large of Golf Course Industry. He can be reached at