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Countdown To Dublin: Catching Up With The Face Behind Penn State Football's Twitter Account

by on August 13, 2014 6:00 AM

We may live in the internet age but when it comes to social media it's clear the Penn State football program is still on the first or second date.

Twitter and Facebook were never really a part of the equation in the Paterno era. Bill O'Brien made his feelings known, referring to "Spacebook" and the joys of Twitter.

But James Franklin has started something of a social media revolution. Social media is now a tool that's used to get the word out. It's used to promote the Penn State football brand and connect with players and fans in a unique way.

As you might imagine though Franklin and his staff have a lot on their plate, so somebody else has to take care of the tweets and posts from the main Penn State football account.

Enter Lauren Damone, a recent Penn State graduate hired late last season to lead the social media charge and teach Penn State athletes how to harness the power of its online presence.

No pressure.

StateCollege.com caught up with Damone for a quick Q & A about life behind the wheel of a 69,000 follower Twitter account where there is no hiding from the grammar police and one poorly timed,  badly worded or edgy tweet can land you in a headline. Or even worse, in a meeting in Franklin's office.

You have a fairly unique job sharing inside info to the public. What has that been like?

LD: "Its been wonderful. With a lot more behind the scenes details and even events like I got the chance to go to Big Ten media days and it was very cool to share that aspect of the program behind the scenes. My job is a lot different than sports information in that I get to share more personal details or show some of the player's personalities and that helps me do my job better."

With Coach Franklin being so involved in everything that goes on with the program does that make it stressful or fun when you know he's watching everything the program does with a real emphasis on social media?

LD: "I think it's a lot of fun. It's funny because I'll stress over 140 character tweets because when you send it out you know that 68,000 people are going to be looking at it in the next few minutes. So that part of it is stressful but as far as Coach Franklin and the other staff members and players working on all the content I find it fun."

"I'll always check on Instagram and check and see what players or Letterman are liking it. That thumbs up is like a sense of approval. You'll be sitting on the plane on the way to Chicago and Coach Franklin is like "Oh yea this is a cool tweet" So it's really fun for me to know that I'm putting content out there that I know all of my staff is looking at."

From a professional standpoint what has it been like watching this all grow? It must be a neat thing to have gone here and now to be behind the scenes with some of the biggest names in town.

LD: "It has been incredible. I tell people that I have a really cool gig when I'm explaining it at family functions or whatever because I get to be a part of a program I just have so much respect and admiration for. I came here for my undergrad so getting to continue to promote Penn State football and share a lot of the good that is behind the program has been a really cool and rewarding professional experience."

You have a hand in teaching the team how to go about using social media. What's the first bit of advice you give them?

LD: "We all know that social media accounts serve as a visual of personal brands. I work to remind them of the reality that every post is judged by fans, classmates and the media. The good news is that they have the power to control the message."

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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