If you take a quick glance at Jerry Snodgrass’ Twitter account, little stands out.
For his photo, you’d see a smiling, sharp-dressed man at his desk. In his bio, you’d learn a little more about him (he’s a former coach – still coaching – all opinions are his own and he’s “PROUD and honored to serve his schools”). Perhaps the most important fact is the first listed. That is that Snodgrass is the Executive Director of the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Dive even deeper and you’d find that he is not someone that just sits behind a desk, makes decisions and stays out of the public eye. You’d see that Snodgrass is setting a standard for how those in power of large organizations should handle social media.
Snodgrass started at the OHSAA in 2008 and spent time as assistant director and director of sport management. About five or six years ago, by his estimation, he noticed something peculiar that changed how he viewed social media, specifically, Twitter
“I saw on the news that Miley Cyrus twerked and it got some unbelievable number – millions – of views,” Snodgrass said. “I asked a younger staff person, ‘What does that mean? How did 3.2 million people see this?’ When she explained it to me, a lightbulb went on.”
Snodgrass saw the value in social media as an informational tool.
Now, his Twitter is full of quote tweets and replies to those that have questions or complaints about certain things the OHSAA does, as well as praising and recognizing the good that goes on throughout Ohio’s high schools.
During the fall sports season, the most frequent question Snodgrass addressed involved host locations for neutral-site playoff football games. Commendably, Snodgrass calmly and professionally dealt with questions and misinformation about what goes on.
In one instance, someone tweeted Snodgrass saying: “Shame on @OHSAASports and @Jerry_Snodgrass for how these playoff tickets were handled and playing a game of this magnitude in a stadium that holds 5k people. Feel bad for parents who won’t see their kids play. Go Tigers!”
To which Snodgrass replied: “Actually so do we. One of the biggest challenges we face (and it is much worse in other sports) is availability of sites to host contests. Having managed enough games in my life, I know the challenges for hosts. I wish all could be accommodated also. Just fact.”
Snodgrass said there is a difference between tweets that deserve a response and clarification and tweets that are a troll.
“It was very difficult to tell your story in 140 characters,” Snodgrass said of Twitter’s former character limit on tweets. Currently, it is 280 characters. “You can only give part of it and it would backfire with people finding more (information).”
Snodgrass said he has no problem with people disagreeing with him on Twitter, but his key focus remains to dispel any misinformation that is out there. When it comes to disagreements, he said the key is to not get offended by them nor take it personally.
Because of the lack of space on a site like Twitter, Snodgrass will often direct message those with questions or conflicts and invite them to email or call him to discuss issues.
“In some cases too, I have invited people into the office,” Snodgrass said. “Come in and spend a day with us. I kind of throw in something about, ‘Don’t plan on taking lunch, because we don’t.’ Nobody takes me up on that part, though, but I would encourage it.”
Whether it’s in person, over the phone or even in a few dozen words on Twitter, Snodgrass is doing something few higher-ups choose to do: Putting your name on what you’re saying and back it up.
He could very easily use his social media as a way to hide behind the decisions the OHSAA makes, having a social media intern churn out tweets regurgitating the company line. Instead, he steps up to the front line and enlightens fans of the teams and schools he serves.
“In all the things I’ve ever done, (social media is what I’m most proud of),” Snodgrass said. “We need to tell our story more.”
Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-871-5797.