[dropcap]W[/dropcap]elcome to the first installment of 140+, a series of features on some of sports Twitter’s most influential – yet somewhat mysterious – personalities.
As active members of the sports Twitter community, we’ve found that often times we don’t know all that much about the people behind our favorite accounts. These people are constantly present as we share viewing experiences and occasionally interact as friends would, but we only know as much about them as their 140 character updates allow.
The idea of this series is to help inject some additional personality and background into some of our favorite follows (and hopefully yours too) on the Twitter dot com while finding out about what and why they do what they do; the tools and strategies they’re using to continue growing their audience; and their thoughts on things they care about and are well-versed in.
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ur first participant is the lovely Lana Berry (@Lana), the social media freelancer from Texas whose frequent and humorous offbeat sports commentary has garnered her over 52,000 followers on Twitter.
Her tweets, which often revolve around baseball, Pau Gasol, and/or adorable puppies, have also caught the attention of various online entities – including SB Nation – and landed her several gigs covering sports culture.
Kiley Kmiec, one of Next Impulse’s co-founders, and I recently sat down with Lana to talk about establishing her social media presence; some of her recent work; being a female voice in the sports Twitter community; and – of course – a little bit of baseball and Pau Gasol.
PB: So, first off, where did you grow up and go to school?
LB: I grew up in Idaho a little bit but I’m from Dallas. I went to high school in Austin and I went to college in Chicago for a little, but I only lasted for like a year there. I came back here and I was going to finish up some classes but that didn’t really happen…so I did a year and a half of college and that’s it.
PB: What’d you study?
LB: Sports marketing but then I switched to general marketing.
PB: And what did you do for work after moving on from school?
LB: I moved back to Austin and just worked some retail jobs. I worked at Nordstrom and a couple of other small shops here. I had a bunch of random little jobs, but then I got a job as a social media assistant for some marketers here and that was kind of my jumping off point to work on my own.
I set up my personal Twitter account in 2008 and I kind of just used it off and on. I didn’t really know what I was going to do with mine but I kept working on it as I was doing other people’s. The more I was doing other people’s, the more I was like “this is stupid, I just want to work on my own…I want to see what I can do with mine.”
I started working on my own in 2010, doing freelance social media and online marketing stuff. The more I did it, the more I realized “this is easy, but I hate it. I hate doing this…this is the most boring & stupid stuff ever.” I don’t like doing it, but I still do it. [laughs]
[pullquote]So many people on Twitter make me say, “what the fuck are you doing?”[/pullquote]
KK: It’s strange because social media is easy for people like us…
LB: It is! It’s weird because nobody’s going to pay me to set up social media accounts because that’s the easiest shit ever, but people do!
There are so many people on Twitter that make me say, like, “what the fuck are you doing?” So many people don’t know what the fuck they’re doing! I’m not trying to be an asshole about it but, come on, it’s the easiest.
PB: When did you find your presence really start to take off?
LB: Once I started working from home, I started watching baseball all the time. I already watched it a lot but now I’d be watching every game and I’d be on Twitter, and I realized the more I tweeted about it the more followers I was getting.
I was having fun with it so I kept it going. I kept refining it and it kind of grew and grew and grew. That was probably three years ago.
It kind of started from me being home all the time and me being bored because I’m home ALL THE TIME. Working from home is great …until it’s not. Twitter turned into a great thing for me to have a social life while I was working.
PB: So give us a rundown of what your day-to-day looks like.
LB: Well, I wake up sometime whenever –
KK: Wait, wait, wait, wait…”sometime whenever?!”
Late morning! I wake up at like 10, but the thing is…if I have a lot of work to do, I get it done really, really late at night. That’s usually when I get all my ideas and stuff is at the WORST possible time – like two or three o’clock in the morning. The good thing is that I can sleep in until I need to.
So, I get up and I usually go to the gym first. I usually check Twitter and my emails while I’m at the gym [laughs] so I kind of get my first dose of Twitter while I’m working out.
I go home and then I’m on my computer for eternity. I do freelance marketing stuff off and on in between my Twitter stuff, emails and writing. I don’t have a set routine, I just go with the flow in the sense of where my brain’s at…unless I have a deadline.
KK: What do you find hardest about working at home? Is it a discipline thing?
LB: Yeah! I don’t do like noon-to-five or big blocks of time and that kind of makes it harder, too, because I’m constantly working. I break it up throughout the day so I’m not out doing stuff all the time. It’s funny because now I’ve kind of turned Twitter into half of my job so I prioritize that as work, to an extent.
PB: What do you like to do when you’ve hit a funk at home?
LB: I’ll just stare at my Tweetdeck and I just kind of wait for something good. I feel like the most pathetic person because I’m sitting there just like “come on, there’s got to be something interesting.” It’s the saddest thing ever.
PB: Do you feel like you’re on Twitter too much?
LB: Yes! I feel like I’m on it too much but at the same time I feel like being on Twitter helps me out because it’s getting me jobs and it’s helping me meet new people. I feel like it’s productive but at the same time I feel like I need to just chill and take a break. It’s easy to get sucked in, even when it’s not productive.
PB: Do you ever get yelled at for tweeting in social settings?
LB: I get made fun of, I don’t get yelled at. My family is really small so I see them all the time. During the holidays I was tweeting a lot and people were like “Shouldn’t you go spend time with your family?” but I see my family all the time! And they think it’s hilarious that I’m on my computer and they make fun of me for tweeting.
PB: Who are some of your favorite follows?
LB: There are a lot of people that I consider to be must-follows. Most of the SB Nation people are super funny and smart. Spencer [Hall] (@edsbs) and Holly Anderson (@hollyanderson) are a couple of my favorite sports people. Pau Gasol, obviously…he’s like my favorite person of all-time.
Another athlete who’s a must-follow is Brandon McCarthy. I keep trying to cut down the people I follow, and people think I’m being a bitch! People think I’m stuck up now because I don’t follow as many people anymore.
I used to try to follow everyone but I just got overwhelmed and started freaking out and now people think I’m an asshole! I’m not trying to be an asshole but I can’t keep track of all these people and it’s all either people I know in real life or people I can’t unfollow because I think they’re great.
PB: Can I get your thoughts on Joey Bats’ recent #FaceOfMLB campaign on Twitter?
LB: Oh my god. Yes, you can get my thoughts on Joey Bats: WHAT IS HE DOING?! [laughs]
I can’t unfollow him because I can’t look away. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen an athlete do on Twitter…ever…and I don’t understand any of it. It’s really obvious that he’s not the one doing it.
LB: Someone told me yesterday that it’s really cool that he follows so many people because he’s not stuck up like other athletes and actually cares about the fans…and I’m like, “you’re getting followed by some 20-year old so that’s not what is really happening here.”
I’m most confused about him bragging about following 170,000 people …he constantly brags about following more people than any other athlete on Twitter and I’m like “you don’t understand the purpose of Twitter.”
[pullquote align=”right”]Honestly, the best things to live-tweet are the worst things to watch.[/pullquote]
PB: As a big live-tweeter, what’s your favorite event to tweet during?
LB: Honestly, the best things to live-tweet are the worst things to watch. It’s not necessarily going to be the Super Bowl every year – although that was funny this year because it was so bad.
The biggest events are cool because everybody is watching it and I’ll get more followers from that just because everyone knows what you’re talking about. But the really bad things produce the best tweets because it’s pretty boring to talk about things that are going well or announcers that are doing their job correctly…nobody cares about that.
I love sports but everyone is so serious about sports that I just try to take the funny angle, and whenever something is horrible to watch that’s where all the funny shit is.
PB: Do you ever feel like it’s hard to multi-task between watching sports and keeping up with what’s being posted on Twitter?
LB: Yeah! I’ll be watching a game that I really care about and I’ll realize that I’ve missed, like, 30 minutes of it and I have no idea what happened.
Some people can do both at the same time constantly because they’re paying such close attention to what’s going on and I think, “how are you doing that?!” I get so distracted.
PB: As a female on Twitter – especially on the sports side – do you find yourself facing a lot of trolls?
LB: I think it’s probably less than you’d expect, at least for me. I think a lot of other women get a lot more. I’ve been getting more lately but I’m pretty good at weeding them out pretty fast.
PB: How do you usually handle them? Do you go straight to block?
LB: I’ve gotten more heavy-handed with the block recently but I used to not block people very often at all. If they say something really bad I’ll retweet them just because I don’t like people getting away with it.
A lot of people are like “oh, don’t give them attention” but I’m not engaging with them…I just don’t want them to say something horrible to me and think that’s okay, but at the same time I don’t want to put my energy into it.
Sometimes if I just retweet them, my followers kind of take care of them. That’s the easiest way for me to deal with it.
I get my fair share of people saying shitty things to me but it doesn’t really bother me, and because of that I don’t think I get as much as some other women do.
PB: Did it ever used to bother you?
LB: I think it probably used to bother me more, but it’s never REALLY affected me that much. I think it’s really funny to me that people care enough to even bother me or think I care when people say crappy things, and I reaaaally don’t. If you hate that I get retweeted, I don’t care…that’s a problem you need to deal with on your own.
PB: Tell me a little bit about some of the work you’ve been doing for SB Nation recently. You went to NBA All-Star Weekend, how was that?
LB: It was fun! It was such a blur because I was running around – literally running around in Converse sneakers, so my feet are still all jacked up from it – and it was just a bunch of random things story-wise.
I met Kareem Abdul-Jabar, which was bizarre. That was the first thing I did when I got there, right off the plane.
Being in an elevator with Yao Ming was bizarre, too, just because he’s the biggest person I’ve ever seen in my life.
I was just wandering around and it’s really cool because that’s what they wanted me to do. That’s what I’ve been doing for them, a travel-log kind of thing. There’s enough people reporting on events and things like that so I’m there just to kind of get a sense of things going on around the events, going to parties and meeting people, getting a feel for the cities and the food. It’s the coolest thing ever, pretty much.
PB: What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in the past six months?
LB: All-Star weekend was pretty great. The Rob Gronkowski Women’s Football Clinic in Boston (aka #GronkFest) was pretty surreal…it was exactly what I expected it to be but while I was expecting it, I was thinking there’s no way it’s going to be what I expect it to be.
I remember when I read the description that it sounded like a fake idea by The Onion. It didn’t feel real and that’s why I was like, “I have to go to this because this is not a real thing.”
Between the Gronktini drinks, the random descriptions of everything, and teaching women about football – it was so weird, but it was really cool. (Editor’s Note: You can read Lana’s recap of the event here)
PB: What would you say your dream job is?
LB: I don’t really have a dream job. That’s kind of where I’m at now, just trying to create something that nobody else is really doing.
That’s kind of how I fell into sports – I really didn’t enjoy what I was doing and I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do. The more I did sports stuff I knew I wanted to do something in sports, but the more I kept looking around at jobs in sports there was nothing I really wanted to do.
I’m creating my own work by doing stuff that other people aren’t doing, so I don’t really know what my dream job is…it’s playing out right now.
PB: What about if you had your own talk show? What would that look like?
LB: It would look ridiculous, and look ridiculous on purpose. I thought about that while watching Seth Meyers’ show because his set looks ridiculous, so I thought about what I could do to make a set more ridiculous than that.
I asked people what they wanted to be on my talk show and it was all Pau Gasol, Lance Berkman, a lot of puppies, and the Pelicans mascot. It’s sad that my talk show would be some sort of freak show circus act.
PB: I would imagine the backdrop being the crazy Marlins’ centerfield structure.
LB: Oh my god, that would be amazing! I love that thing.
PB: And, last but not least, some baseball talk. You’re a Rangers fan; how do you think they are going to do this year?
LB: I like to keep my expectations low, and they acquired a bunch of really good people, which means I like to keep my expectations even lower because everyone else’s go up.
I think they’ll make the playoffs, but I also thought that last year. Everything is set up for them to compete. I’m mostly concerned about the health of the pitching rotation. I don’t like to project too high for my own sanity. [laughs]
PB: As a frequent Michael Young basher, how sad were you when he announced his retirement this offseason?
LB: [laughs] It was pretty sad for me, for Twitter purposes. He’s the source of a lot of my Twitter jokes and I’m going to miss that a lot.
I know he’s living in Dallas so I’m hoping to snag an interview with him or something. It’s not that I don’t like him as a person, I just judged him as a player…so it could be okay.
PB: Who do you have your eye on this season?
LB: Tanaka coming over is a big deal and that’ll be interesting to see. I’m interested to see Jose Fernandez this year because he was so great last year. I’m also interested to see if Josh Hamilton recovers from his horrible year…hopefully not. [laughs]
PB: I was just going to ask if you were hoping so.
LB: No! I’m just interested to see if it happens, I don’t want it to happen.
A huge thanks goes out to Lana for her willingness to be our first 140+ and taking the time to chat with us. If you haven’t done so already, you should make sure to follow her on the Twitter machine.
Want to find out more about one of your favorite Twitter follows? Send us a suggestion for our next 140+ feature by emailing me at pete [at] next-impulse.com