How I use Twitter: Q & A with Bob Skinstad

Bob Skinstad has made a seamless transition from professional sportsman to media personality. With more than 11 000 followers on Twitter, Memeburn got in touch and asked him about his social media habits, who he follows and whether he has ever tweeted anything that he regrets.

Memeburn: You were one of the first international rugby players world-wide to start actively using social media. How did it begin?
Bob Skinstad: I think my new media interests were piqued when I was working at Saatchi&Saatchi in the UK ! WhenI got back to pro rugby I brought a few things with me.

MB: Why did you start blogging?
BS: Same sort of reason, except I found a voice that sticks around and has a deeper trace for me- a weekly newspaper column disappears in a day – not so with a blog.

MB: Why did you start Tweeting?
BS: A socially savvy mate of mine introduced me (Seth Rotherham from 2oceansvibe) to the platform and I was hooked immediately.

MB: What order do you check the following? Newspaper, online media, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, blogs.
BS: First I look at online media, then email, Twitter, blogs , Facebook and lastly newspapers.

MB: Why do you think so many sports stars have taken to Twitter? What does it offer?
BS: Lots of sports stars are also interested in the business and entertainment side of life and Twitter offers a cool sneak peak into a chosen and personal interest stream – you feed the machine that spews out interesting things for you to see and look at.

MB: How has Twitter enhanced your work as a rugby commentator? Give us an example.
BS: Definitely makes it easier for praise and criticism. I get real time feedback if I make a controversial comment now – before I would have to wait for an evaluation from my producer which is always way after the incident.

MB: Has a Tweet ever put you in a compromising position? Tell us details.
BS: Yes – I came back from overseas, and had a few glasses of wine and a sleeping pill, and carried on tweeting after it had hit me — I woke up on the couch with a weird stream of comments back at me and was horrified to find I had been going at it- making no sense at all for at least an hour – luckily no abusive stuff , just senseless mumbo jumbo!

MB: Has Twitter changed the way the way that you work? If so, how?
BS: Only in the way that I now ask questions to Twitter as well as any other searches, as there is often a lot of information out there that you might not find in your own search bubble on Google or

MB: Have any of your Tweets ever landed up as quotes in the press? Please give an example.
BS: I think so, but can’t remember the actual tweet – it ended up as something in the funnies bit in the sports section of the Sunday Times.

MB: How does a busy guy like you find the time to Tweet?
BS: It’s like checking messages. A Blackberry or iPhone has built in products that make it really easy – I like the sharing aspect, especially if something of significance happens.

MB: What’s the strangest place you’ve tweeted from?
BS: Besides the Loo?

MB: Give us some ideas on great people to follow on Twitter?
BS: Hugh Macleod, Shel Israel, Chris BroganTed.

MB: Why do you think people follow you on Twitter?
BS: It’s like a little broadcast platform so people that follow me can sometimes see what I see, have, do and that is a way of vicarious enjoyment for them – or even just to get rugby updates and opinions.

MB: Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter? Why?
BS: Twitter because it’s more controlled by me – but Facebook is growing on me because of the size of its reach.

MB: Who are your favourite sportsmen or sportswomen to follow on Twitter?
BS: Some of the UK sportsmen and women are really into it – and I follow most of the Boks that tweet, but I like business, social responsibility and innovation tweeters as my bulk interest is in that sphere.

MB: Has Twitter helped you expand your audience, or are your followers generally the same people who watch you on TV?
BS: It has definitely drawn a more eclectic crowd than I thought, but I am sure it’s a large portion of people who were or are interested in rugby and my background in it.

MB: Do you prefer to blog or to tweet? How often do you tweet?
BS: Tweeting is easier, but I often tweet that I have just blogged.

MB: Is there value in following a sports event on Twitter second by second, or do you think it’s better to rather wait and watch it on TV?
BS: I started my tweeting career doing exactly that – and I don’t think there is any value in watching tweets if you have the TV there – but I like having results coming though in my stream – so I tap into scores from other games etc.



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