No Olympian has a more authentic social media presence than Lolo Jones.
But that was not always the case.
The 100m hurdler was inspired to join Twitter in 2009 when she discovered that someone else was Tweeting under her name with the handle “rungrinch.” Jones’ very first Tweet called out her impersonator:
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Since reclaiming her social media identity, Jones has provided fans with a unique look at her life. From unfiltered commentary about her dating life to gruesome pictures of injuries, nothing is off limits.
“Lolo gets it,” said Caroline Engle, NBC Olympics’ Social Media Producer. “She consistently creates high-quality social content that her followers will engage with.”
Jones shared her thoughts on social media, as well as advice given by comedian Trevor Noah, while making an appearance for Red Bull.
You have more Twitter followers than any other U.S. track and field athlete. What has been the secret to developing such a large social media following?
The secret to growing on social media is having no secrets. Show your daily life, and if something comes out, have an opinion about it.
The main thing I want to do is have people get to know me in a non-Olympic year. You get so much attention in an Olympic year, and people literally think that we do not train in the three years before that. I want to show people that this is what I do when NBC isn’t following me around.
You are active on several social media platforms. What is your strategy for each platform?
Each one is different, depending on the audience.
Snapchat is a rough draft of my day. It’s super, super behind-the-scenes.
Instagram is for cool pictures.
Twitter is for when I’m watching TV, like the Emmys or the NBA Finals, and I am doing play-by-play with gifs or memes or jokes or trending topics.
On Facebook, I really like the live video feature because I can interact with fans.
What is the nicest compliment you’ve received on social media?
On multiple occasions fans have given me compliments, or when I’m going through surgery, they have encouraged me to keep on. I really do appreciate all of the good stuff because it balances out a lot of the bad stuff. It makes it worth it.
How do you deal with the haters on social media?
It’s hard because sometimes it can be overwhelming. But at the end of the day, I really like making people laugh, so when I do get that feedback, it balances it out.
"The secret to growing on social media is having no secrets."
You have sent more than 13,200 Tweets since 2009. Which post has been the most memorable?
That’s a lot of time wasted! I don’t have an overall favorite, but I know the ones that have gone viral, and it’s always the jokes.
A comedian, Trevor Noah, the host of “The Daily Show,” told me, "a good joke is always going to offend some people." I have to keep that in mind sometimes when I’m posting, like when I did the Rihanna joke. It was an excellent joke. Even ESPN said, if you weren’t an athlete, you could have been a ghost writer [for the ESPYS] for that joke. It got over 5,000 retweets. But her fans came at me in such a vicious way that I could not check Twitter for two weeks. I could not check my mentions, I could only post.
The viral ones I always remember. I have the Rihanna one and the Derrick Rose one.
Which Olympic athletes are your favorites to follow on social media?
There are a couple for different reasons. Lindsey Vonn is really good for fitness inspiration, and she has overcome a lot of injuries.
I really like Anthony Davis, but he doesn’t post that much. I wish he posted more.
I actually don’t follow a lot of people for the Olympics. Is that bad? Because a lot of them suck. Just being honest.
Usain Bolt has gotten a lot better. I don’t know if he does it [himself] or not. But he’s opened up more.
Jason Richardson is pretty funny. He will say what’s on his mind, and he doesn’t do the cross-posting. It’s separate. His Instagram has a lot of black-and-white photos, and on his Twitter he’s kind of feisty. He will talk about TV shows, and he reads a lot.
What advice do you have for Olympians looking to improve their social media presence?
Don’t cross-post. They are all different platforms for a reason. And know your audience. Pay attention to what is giving you likes, and repeat it in a unique way. If a fitness post got you a lot, stick with fitness. If it didn’t, then just because you are an athlete, doesn’t mean you have to do a shot of you working out. I get a lot of my hits from humor. I am a three-time Olympian, but sometimes my humor posts are the best ones.