(Note: This is the second in
an Epic a mini ten-part series on the Worst Moves of 2011; We'll also be doing a ten-part mini on the Ten Best Moves of 2011. If you want to see #10: Trading Jabar Gaffney, click here.)
Social media--it's all the rage. Like a moth to a flame (or an illiterate with an eye piercing to a bag of K2), corporations are flinging themselves headlong into the space with little thought of the results of their actions. The recent McDonald's Chicken McNuggets Twitter disaster is just one example.
The Denver Broncos' foray into social media, while not a meltdown of epic proportions, was certainly fraught with its share of missteps. And that's why John Elway's venture into Twitter is #9 on our list of the Ten Worst Moves of 2011.
After the regime of Josh McDaniels, in which nothing was given, contact was limited to only one Napoleonic figure, and misinformation was as highly prized as the real McCoy, the Broncos felt like social media was an opportunity to reconnect with fans and present a kinder, gentler organization. In fact, Jim Saccomano, Vice President of
Kool-Aid Public Relations, tweeted in September of 2011: "Level of availability to press by coach Fox, John Elway, and personnel people unmatched in recent Denver seasons."
That sounds downright neighborly. And you can hardly blame the Broncos. McDaniels might have been headed down the path of Scott Pioli for all we know, and with Brian Xanders so afraid to express his desire to draft Clay Matthews, he might have gone into a shell.
So the next step was to put the big guy on Twitter. It seemed reasonable enough: erase the McDaniels era by letting the Vice President out among the Twitter fiefdom 140 characters at a time. At first, it was a cute parlor trick. Elway asked the fans questions about who the team should draft and updated them on the coaching search--from a nice cosmetic distance, of course. Here is what Elway wrote after his first glitch as Vice President, when Mike Mularkey removed himself from the interview process for Broncos head coach: "I respect the decision that Mike Mularkey has made to not interview with the Broncos at this time."
Factual? Yeah. Interesting, novel, or authentic? No, not really.
A few months later, after Elway had a moment of weakness and authenticity on the radio (he told people he thought the Broncos were no closer to finding their QB of the future), he found out that there is a dark side to mingling among the Twitter peasants: people talk back and sometimes, just sometimes, they bite real hard. Among my favorite tweets to Elway were:
- Hey @johnelway you lost 3 superbowls and your team won 2 for you when u were washed up so shut your f#$% mouth.
- @johnelway i hope pat fires you and you can go back to arena football were you belong you piece of trash.
And you thought you had a bad day at the office?
The problem for Elway being on Twitter isn't that he's on Twitter. The problem is that, on Twitter, he's neither authentic (he can't afford to be, look what it got him) nor interesting: he's the zombie in between. He can't really say anything that we don't know already (he likes the new draft class, but don't we all?), so his tweets are stale; they're basically a higher profile version of Saccomano's Twitter feed. At the same time, he doesn't allow his followers to know him in any meaningful way - which, of course, isn't social media. It's just public relations.
Elway doesn't have to be Jim Irsay, but he also doesn't need to feed us the corporate line. In fact, my advice to him would be to try and talk less about the Broncos (which we know will be sterilized anyway) and more about himself. His recent tweet about liking the band One Republic was a step in the right direction. I may prefer Steel Panther, but at least Elway is giving me something interesting.
As with most things, I'm sure Elway will find the right balance as the game goes along. He usually does.