Postcards from Wimbledon, No. 1:
I Follow: Chris Fowler

Editor’s note: I Follow is all about ESPN employees on Twitter: what they tweet, whom they follow and how you can interact socially with anyone and everyone.

Twitter Handle: @cbfowler
Followers: 146,565
Following: 90
(As of 06/26/12)

LONDON — Chris Fowler’s tweets focus on the sports he is primarily associated with — college football and tennis — but also concern other sports (notably international soccer) and music, a personal passion. This week and next, he’s tweeting from Wimbledon, where he is very busy for a 10th year as a host and calling matches for ESPN’s first year televising the entire tournament, from first ball through the finals.

When and why did you first start using Twitter?
I fired it up early in 2010, on the recommendation of Lance Armstrong, a friend going back to Scholastic Sports America. He saw the value in it as a PR tool. But I thought, ‘I’m not him’ and I didn’t do much with it until the football season that fall.

What’s your overall philosophy on how to use Twitter?
I want to enjoy it. I keep it light and entertaining. It’s not a competition. I’ve never sought to grow my number of followers. I don’t do hashtags or other tricks to build that number. I use it for amusement, for news, and although I’m a private person, to share a bit with the fans and to get feedback from them. It’s not a place for deep discussions, and I don’t go overboard and announce where I’m having dinner.

You interact with fans? Perhaps while you’re on the air?
I do respond, even if they are critical, if it is reasonable and not rude. Everybody has a different opinion about what they like in commentary, and their feedback is valid. When I write back, sometimes people are stunned and that alone wins them over. And yes, I do read it and tweet during telecasts, but only if I’m calling a match and we go the studio for a few minutes or to another match. The instant feedback is useful. I couldn’t do it during College GameDay. There’s too much going on.

I don’t ask many questions, as some do. But I do like to ask about new bands. I’ve been turned on to some interesting new music through Twitter. By far the biggest response was asking about College GameDay’s Big and Rich theme song. I received thousands of responses.

(L to R) ESPN host Chris Fowler, Hall of Famer Chris Evert and tennis analyst Mary Joe Fernandez on an on-site set for the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

What surprises you about Twitter?
What’s surprised me isn’t about my account, but how useful it is for many different purposes. I use it as a news feed. That’s how I’ve found out about many important events, such as the death of Bin Laden. Twitter far exceeds what its creators probably envisioned.

What frustrates you about Twitter?
Twitter runs the gamut, presenting both the most brilliant and most disturbing aspects of society. If you open up the rock you see the worst of humanity. It’s unfortunate that people hide behind the anonymity.

Who is your favorite person to follow on Twitter?
I like people who are consistently funny, such as Rob Delaney (@robdelaney). And I enjoy @PseudoFed and @PseudoRafa, which are parodies of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Mostly I follow news sources and some athletes, and those change seasonally. Beyond that, I don’t follow too many people. It ranges from the President to Scott Van Pelt.

You use Tout 12-sec videos in your tweets. What is your approach there?
I have fun with those. Sometimes they are personal, video postcards from climbing in the Rockies or a nice scene in Manhattan. But most are behind the scenes at promo shoots or GameDay meetings or having Brad Gilbert preview a match in under 15 seconds.

Postcard design by Crystal Cote.

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