Q&A | Talking Twitter

Talking Twitter with Amara Baptist of the Portland Trail Blazers

Each month, Talking Twitter takes you behind the scenes of some of Twitter’s most interesting publishers with the social media professionals responsible for some of the platform’s standout Tweets and viral moments. This month we sat down with Amara Baptist, digital content manager for the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What makes @trailblazers worth following?

Amara Baptist: We have an amazing digital team that works together to make interesting, compelling, and creative content that does a really good job of being current as well as providing our fans with the best highlights from our team.


How has social media changed since you started out in the industry?

Amara Baptist: I’ve been in social media professionally for six years, and it’s changed a lot since I started — I remember manual Retweets! You’re really able to monetize content now which is something that existed back then but wasn’t a huge part of brand strategy. I’ve also really seen social media become a legitimate job. It’s not just Tweeting, which is what people think that we do — it’s such an integral part of an organization or brand’s overall marketing strategy.


How has that changed what it means to be a social media manager in 2019?

Amara Baptist: That’s a great question — I think you have to be so in tune with everything that’s going on in the world, whether that’s positive things, like big events such as the Super Bowl or the Oscars, or very negative things. For example, that horrific shooting in New Zealand. We had to be very cautious about what messages we were putting out following that, because as a basketball team, it’s very easy to talk about shooting or shooters. Being cognizant of stuff outside your bubble is really important.


Describe your relationship with Twitter.

Amara Baptist: Twitter has always been my favorite platform. I think I joined Twitter in 2009, and reading back some of the old things I posted, it’s kind of cringeworthy. But, you know, it was really an outlet to get my thoughts on basketball out there. I grew up as a huge Lakers fan so I would watch games and share my thoughts, and from there I kind of had a community of people who did the same — basketball lovers.

It’s funny, I actually kind of attribute Twitter to me landing my first job in social media. I didn’t know it at the time, but my soon-to-be boss at FOX Sports had been following me on Twitter for a while, and when I was recommended for a social media job, he was familiar with my work and style. That ultimately helped me land an awesome job at FOX Sports that really kicked off my career.


What's the most underrated Twitter feature?

Amara Baptist: I think professionally it’s all the analytics that you guys provide. Having that information so readily available and visual, for me, is really helpful when I’m trying to figure out and gauge what I’m doing, and if people are enjoying it or it’s not a hit.


And if we could grant wishes, with the exception of the edit button, what’s the one feature you’d ask for? 

Amara Baptist: I would really like to be able to tag accounts in videos. Especially for sponsored content, I think that would do wonders for overall engagement. I’d also like to schedule Tweets or photos and tag the people in the photos in that scheduled post, if that makes sense. I love that we can schedule four photos at once — that was a game changer!

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Twitter is all about the conversation. How do you decide what conversations or replies to engage with?

Amara Baptist: One of the things I really enjoy about Twitter is just having such easy access to the fan conversation and what people are talking about. If we’re going through a rough stretch of basketball, I tend to pick out the positive comments and engage with those, but I definitely don’t shy away from calling out trolls. I think it’s really important for social media accounts to reflect their organization’s values and to stand up for what they believe in, and we definitely use Twitter as a platform for that.


How do you prioritize the different functions of your Twitter account's role?

Amara Baptist: The No. 1 thing I use Twitter for is broadcasting information, because that’s what the majority of people following our account crave. That and participating in the conversation, because we want our fans and followers to feel like they’re part of the team. If we were to ignore them and not engage with anything they’re doing — not give them Likes or Retweets — it takes them out of the equation.


Tell us about a Tweet so good, you wish you'd written it.

Amara Baptist: I’m gonna say anything that Joel Embiid has ever Tweeted. I wish I’d thought of everything he’s ever said on Twitter, because he’s amazing.


What accounts are a must-follow for you right now?

Amara Baptist: I think my current favorite is Thoughts of Dog [laughs]. It’s such creative and such uplifting content — it just makes my day better.

Share a Tweet from your drafts folder with us.

Amara Baptist: OK, let’s see … I don’t know what this was referring to, but I have “remembered why I don’t update my Facebook status” in there. I don’t know why [laughs] but it must be something political, I think.


OK, quick-fire round of questions to close out the Q&A.

Throwing friendly shade at other accounts — yea or nay?

Amara Baptist: Yea, for sure. I think the NBA does a really good job of creating conversation between teams in a respectful way.


Including more than one hashtag — yea or nay?

Amara Baptist: I think I’m a nay on this one — I like to keep copy clean and I think sometimes too many hashtags causes clutter.


Using emoji to replace words — yea or nay?

Amara Baptist: It depends, but I’m usually nay.

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Talking Twitter

Go behind the scenes with some of Twitter’s most interesting publishers and the social media professionals responsible for some of the platform’s standout Tweets and viral moments in the Talking Twitter collection.