Yeovil Town manager Terry Skiverton has launched his own personal social networking outlet via the Twitter website. The Glovers boss has created his own Twitter account as what he describes as an 'experiment' in an effort to give Yeovil Town supporters little snippets into what he and the playing squad are up to on an ad-hoc basis.
Skiverton said that he took up the idea following conversations with Western Gazette journalist Chris Sweet and that he had quietly launched it himself to try and get used to it. More recently though, eagle-eyed supporters have picked up on his account, which led to the question of whether it really was Skiverton behind the posts. The Yeovil boss confirmed that he was behind the account, saying that he launched it as he felt there was not enough information being fed to supporters by the club:
"I just thought for myself as a little bit of an experiment, as a lot of supporters complain that they don't know what's going on so much behind the scenes. There does have to be a lot that has to be protected, but I just thought that perhaps if I just say a few things about what we're doing, nothing too much, and it's nothing where I really want feedback and dialogue from supporters. I just want supporters to be able to follow something where you can explain what you've been doing during the day just to give them a bit more of an insight, and to also let supporters know after a game when we're happy, when we're down, when we're travelling, when we're not. I think it would just help the fans that little bit more and bridge that gap, because it's something that supporters always complain about - that they feel a bit too far away from it all. It's still a little bit of an experiment. I'm waiting for someone to be very negative on there or to say something stupid and then I'll probably come off it! But it's something that I'd like to do for the supporters, and then if it works, it works, and if it doesn't then you'll know because I'm not online!."
The move is a significant departure for the club, who last summer put out a statement saying that "he (Skiverton) will only ever comment to the official club website and to bona fide members of the press" after a clearly fake (though uncontroversial) account was created on the Green Room under Skiverton's name. With the decision now made to embrace the new technology, Skiverton warned that this was an idea that that was only in its early stages, and he was not looking for a two-way communication - aiming to use the Twitter facility purely as a one-way broadcast mechanism:
"I haven't sent that many so far. I won't be replying to anyone. It's all one-way. Obviously times have changed and times have moved on. I'm not saying that I'm exactly Mr Computer Literate, but there's a few social networking sites that other people have been involved with, and I just thought to myself it might be a good thing for the supporters."
The Yeovil boss said he still expected supporter debate on club issues to continue as is, emphasising that he didn't want his Twitter account to turn into a message board. In doing so, Skiverton clarified his feelings regarding the existence of unofficial sites such as the Green Room, pointing out that contrary to earlier reports attributed to himself that he didn't have a problem with the existence of such sites, suggesting that those who were negative about such sites needed to embrace changes in society and take criticism on board. The Yeovil boss said he only drew the line with such sites when comments became personal:
"Now it (the Twitter account) can only become a good thing if they (the supporters) take it on board, and it doesn't become a messaging board to have a pop at me. They've already got their own for that! That's still very good, and I think that's a good site as well. Everyone is negative about the Green Room, but it is still fans being passionate about things, and I'm more than happy with that. And I know that people think that probably I'm negative about internet sites, but at the end of the day, if you're someone and you've got a group of friends and you want to chat, then go and chat. If you want to get the hump, then do what you've got to do. At the end of the day, that's the way that society is going and it's something you've got to deal with. It's like the papers and the media - it's just another thing to deal with and I'll take any advice or criticism on board. It's just the personal stuff that I don't like."
Those who are interested, can follow Terry Skiverton using his Twitter account terryskiverton - and remember, play nicely! For what it's worth, we can see such a mechanism of communication being a positive thing if used wisely. Examples might include updates on away coach journeys and overnight stops, where news is received on player operations such as Stefan Stam's recent injuries, or where the club have had to switch to different or unusual training facilities for the day. We have seen instances where club officials going onto fans message boards has backfired, but this is usually in circumstances when two-way debates start to get heated. As long as Skiverton keeps it as a one-way broadcast system, and the information put out is chosen well, then it should prove to be a useful communication device.
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