SPARTANBURG Before February, J.J. Jansen just used Twitter to follow friends and news organizations, keeping his public account as low-key as a professional football player can.
A trivia nerd with a passion for obscure sports facts, Jansen decided in the offseason to interact more with fans. Thus began Trivia Tuesdays.
Jansen, the Panthers fourth-year long snapper, holds a one-question trivia session on his Twitter account (@JJJansen44) every Tuesday afternoon. His legion of followers has grown from a couple hundred to nearly 4,000 in just a few weeks as they wait each week to answer a question that could win them signed merchandise or game tickets.
With the help of the Panthers PR staff, as well as the signatures of a few teammates, Jansens Twitter giveaway has brought him a cult following on the social networking site.
Before, we would get about 10-15 answers to the question, Jansen said. Now, I venture to guess, in five minutes, we probably get 150-200 answers.
Its definitely been a team effort, and Im very indebted to them. I know the Panthers Twitter page has promoted it. When we were just getting started, Jonathan Stewart tweeted something out and all of a sudden I had 500 more followers.
Heres how it works: On Tuesday morning, Jansen will tweet out a picture of the prize to tease his audience and heighten awareness of the upcoming question. Between 1-4 p.m., hell send the question out. He allows five minutes for folks to get their answers in before closing the contest. After randomizing those with the correct answer, he selects the winner.
But dont think Wikipedia will help you. Jansen does his best to ensure his questions are Google-proof, and at times he has enlisted the help of Elias Sports Bureau to make the questions even tougher. He once asked what four jersey numbers have been worn by only one Panthers player in the teams history. Last week, he asked what former Panther medaled in the Olympics, along with the specific event, year and medal.
Jansens prize for last week was a pair of tickets from his own allotment to any Panthers game this season.
The most recent one is a military member stationed in Virginia, and hes going to get to go to the Panthers at Redskins game, Jansen said. I assumed itd be a home game because I thought itd be a Charlotte fan, but it turned out to be a member of our military. And so if hes willing to fight off the Redskin fans, Im more than happy to oblige him, and well always take extra Panther fans at road games.
The long snapper tries to tie the question to the prize. With a Jon Beason autographed ball as this weeks prize, Jansen plans to have a question related to either Panthers linebackers or Beason specifically. He also plans to give away more unique items in the future, like a signed pylon rather than a ball or glove.
His newly found Twitter fame gives him notoriety that most in his oft-forgotten long snapper position wouldnt get. But this isnt a personal brand attempt for Jansen as much as its a way for him to interact with fans in a way that his other, more-high profile teammates do.
This was a way for me to blend some of my passions and make it into a way to be with the fans, he said. Yeah it puts me out there, but Ive always felt like my Twitter page is the Trivia Tuesday Twitter page and it just happens to be under my name. I like to think that putting a face with it makes it a bit more fun, but weve had a blast with it.