9th Nov 2018 by Cam Brierley

Updated 5th Sep 2019

Esports Career Interviews - Social Media with Matt "Triton" Borker

Having run social media accounts for the likes of Red Reserve and Dot Esports, Matt had some very interesting points on the world of esports social media and how aspiring candidates can enter the area.

Welcome to the Hitmarker career interview series! A great learning resource for people looking for jobs in esports is to hear the stories of those who have worked in the scene, so we’ll be speaking to people in various roles in the industry about how they got there.

We had to begin with a sector that is quintessentially esports - social media. To shed some light on the topic, we spoke to Matt “Triton” Borker, the former Head of Social Media for Red Reserve.

To get an idea of what he did in this role, we had to start off with a description of his daily duties.

“My day-to-day usually incorporated three things. I provided live event coverage for all our teams. So I’d watch the streams and post the scores after every map or game on a scoreboard that the design team supplied. I had to quickly learn how to do some basic Photoshop skills and coverage techniques in order to provide proper coverage to my best extent. On top of that, we had a great team of content creators that we want to promote. So tweeting out their streams with a custom GIF - or accompanied by a stream clip instead - really was of utmost importance to show off our content side as much as possible.”

“I also scheduled advertisements to go up across our social media accounts for all the organization’s sponsors. Besides the general advertisement posts, the team and I brainstormed creative and unique content ideas to promote our sponsors as well. It allowed us to not only promote our sponsor, but also to regularly show support to our professional players. That type of more in-depth piece also works as fulfilling requirements we agreed to with our sponsors, which are called deliverables.”

If you’re chasing a career in social media, we hope that gave you some insight into some of the duties you’d hold in a position!

Here’s what else Matt said.

Matt’s journey to becoming a social media manager for Red Reserve

Like most of us avid about esports, gaming was prominent for Matt “since a very early age” through an introduction from his elder brother. Games of his childhood included Super Smash Bros., Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and James Bond 007: Nightfire.

“My friends and I in elementary school as well as middle school would go to one another’s houses and immediately turn on the GameCube to play games like NHL Hitz or, especially, Nightfire. Call of Duty 4 was my first experience into playing games with other people online. But I remember all I wanted to do was replay the campaign level “War Pig” over and over again.”

Through his school life, Matt frequented the Call of Duty titles as they came out each year, which brought him to Modern Warfare 2 and his first slight introduction to competitive gaming through MLG and GameBattles.

“I had a couple friends who I played all the COD titles with, but only three of them both liked playing competitively and were also good at it. It became something to look forward to after school because we would all hop on and, you know, play games with each other.”

Throughout this, Matt didn’t lose focus of the importance of school.

“I found a good balance. I was only allowed to play my games once all my homework was done. It’s also important to focus on your education, so I always made sure that I studied and got my homework done right away as soon as I got back from school, and then I’d have time to have a bit of fun and hop on Modern Warfare 2 or whatever title was released that year and have a good time to end the day.”

With so many people looking to get into esports juggling another job or a education, it was interesting to hear how Matt combined his studies at university with his duties at an organization of Red’s size.

“It definitely helped that I had a team of people I trusted to balance my schedule out. During the school year, it was all about figuring out what everyone in the social media team’s schedule was like and then working around it.”

“What also helps balance school and work is finding quicker ways to do basic tasks. I figured out I could schedule all the ads for sponsors we had for an entire week on a Sunday. So instead of having to be around to schedule everything everyday, I knew that they were all ready to post at the time I set.” Tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck are beneficial for doing this, and are important for a budding social media manager to play around with.

University, as it should do, took precedence in Matt’s calendar. “It’s about finding a balance. University is important and I take it seriously. I’m able to refine my skills, correctly network with students, and get a degree which are all important things when I think of my career long term. That’s all important to my individual success and growth.”

Matt’s story is an inspirational one to people looking to get into the scene in a position like his as he had no “real-life” experience before his esports work. Instead, what paved the way for his success was being proactive and creating and managing a Twitter account covering Call of Duty esports a few years ago.

“I created my own Twitter account called InsiderCOD after I realized there was a gap to be filled covering the more amateur and semi-professional side of competitive Call of Duty back in 2015.”

“I realized I had time in the day to cover this space and it seemed like there were enough people who would be interested in an account like that. I took time to cover the UMG Semi-Pro League, the open bracket side of LAN events, and the following rostermanias that always seemed to happen. By updating that, I refined my skills in social media, gained a following and was able to network.”

We’re big proponents of getting out there and building experience in whatever way possible, and with social media being something where you can build your own pages it’s very possible to gain some experience.

Matt credits the success of his COD account to how he’s always loved being creative through avenues like drawing and writing. As well as that, he looked to what established social media pages were doing and tried to implement that into his page.

“I analyzed what other professional companies and organizations were doing in the esports scene. I took a lot of notes and really studied that in order to formulate my own Twitter account that I was able to grow. The best thing was that people actually followed the account I made, not because they knew who I was, because I wasn’t anybody at the time, but because they enjoyed the content I was putting out and they wanted to follow me because they wanted those quick updates.”

“I was always so proud when I saw a story, broke it on the InsiderCOD Twitter account, and then five minutes later I saw all the big companies put out that same information.”, Matt told us.

Advice on getting into social media in esports: the skills needed

Who better to ask what skills you need to be a social media manager than someone who has held that title with organizations such as Red Reserve and Rogue! Matt had some cool things to say in what it takes to do well in social media.

“I think I put a pretty big emphasis on teamwork and accepting criticism. If someone tells me I did something wrong I know it’s because they know I can do better, and not because they think I’m bad at what I do. I think taking criticism and being open to working with a team are good traits that someone should have looking to establish themselves in social media.”

“Besides that, it’s important to research creatively. When you take time to research specifically esports related content and social media out there, you can learn a lot about bettering yourself. I was lucky enough to get a follow back from one of my inspirations Mateus Portilho, the social media manager for Cloud9, and he was the one who suggested to look at other teams’ social media, and study how they perform. Which means their posts, content and wording. He also let me know that grammar is very important.”

“So because of that, I’ve analyzed multiple Twitter accounts of prominent esports organizations and companies to better understand how I believe an account should be run. The most interesting thing I looked for was how an organization balanced, or didn’t balance, professionalism with appealing to the gaming/meme culture that exists within esports. Also more basic things as well like the times they posted certain types of tweets, what graphics they used, type of formatting and language used, and how to cater to their specific fanbase as well as the esports community as a whole. It’s a lot but I guess doing that will separate someone who isn’t sure if social media is for them, and someone who enjoys putting in the time, and enjoys turning social media into a science.”

“Going back to that balance topic I mentioned, it’s probably the most interesting to me. Professionalism is obviously a staple of esports, especially since there are some people outside looking in who don’t understand it. So coming across like a major sports team’s social media account would help boost an organization upwards to stand out. On the other hand, the esports fanbase I’d say as a majority are different than traditional sports fans. We love video games and nerdy things but we’re also proud of that. So there is an entire gaming/esports/meme culture that exists and has to be catered to. I think the concept has treated the esports community well as it’s very inclusive for all companies, organisations & fans involved.

“Going back to the formatting and text part of running a social media account, having a really solid understanding of grammar and syntax is really important. Syntax is basically how someone arranges words and phrases to make a sentence look clean. I think there are small things to note when typing out something that can separate a good social media manager and a great one. Once you’ve got that understanding, then its equally important to make the sentences or phrases your writing what I’ll call flavorful. It’s not about just spewing information like a bot account, it’s about writing a tweet that someone viewing would enjoy reading, whether subconsciously or consciously.

“So to be able to say that Red Reserve is about to take on Luminosity in what will be a battle of the titans - stay tuned for game one, they’ll be playing this map and this game mode. It adds more flavor to the tweet; things that are more enticing for someone to want to read the entire thing of besides just kind of a more bland, bare-boned, information style of tweet.”

“Creativity isn’t something that you can really teach people - it’s something that you have to figure out yourself in different ways. You’ve got to find ways in which you feel you’re stretching your more creative muscles. That can really be anything - not even related to writing tweets. If you like drawing or taking pictures, even streaming, you may start looking at things like formatting tweets in a more creative way.”

More great things to take note of from Matt. You can see everything that top brands post on social media, so it’s very possible to check what the other top dogs in esports, and even outside of esports (looking at you, Wendy’s!), are doing in their social media game and what lessons you can draw from that.

We also love the out-of-the-box suggestion to try and make yourself think more creatively.

Advice for getting into social media in esports: Key points

Having heard about the sort of skills you’ll need to do well in social media and how you can acquire them, check out what Matt said regarding his key advice for getting into social media esports.

“I think being an active personality within esports, on Twitter specifically, but also maybe Reddit is important. I don’t really use Reddit myself but I see people discussing what they see on there all the time. Esports is probably one of the largest communities on Twitter. So building and using your account to not only tell people about yourself and who you are as a person, but also using it to showcase your knowledge of whatever you’d like to get into within esports is pretty important in my opinion. Also don’t be afraid to reach out to people and try to make new friends. Some of them will just become good friends that makes gaming and esports that much more enjoyable for you, and others could potentially open up opportunities for you within esports.”

“Ways to build yourself could be writing articles analyzing different aspects of social media, or quoting tweets from organizations or companies and reviewing what you liked about it. These can only help gain a positive reputation for someone. I also have to say don’t be overbearing when you’re trying to gain connections. It’s always better to come from a more genuine place, so whether it leads to an opportunity or not, you’re happy you met that person. If you reply to a social media manager’s tweets 30 times a day, you may not gain the best reputation amongst people that follow you or could follow you. Just do you, it’s the best advice I can give.”

“This next bit of advice is cliché but still really important to understand. If you’re turned down 99 times out of 100, that 100th time when you finally do get accepted could be your big break that leads to a successful career. I also wouldn’t recommend reaching out to large organizations at first. You’re only going to hurt your confidence and self-esteem if you’re only reaching out to big organizations like TSM or CLG when you’re still in the process of building a resume.”

“Just continue refining your skills and be about the grind. I would recommend against having your entire Twitter feed be of you just responding to different people saying, “DM real quick”. Luckily I was never the person to do that, but I’ve seen it happen way too much with other people so I feel the need to address it. Personally, I’ll take someone who emails me more seriously about a position than someone who tries to hit me up via DM on Twitter.”

“I truly believe, and this is something that I hate and hold close to my heart about the social media scene, that it’s really hard to grow yourself as a social media manager. I think it’s the most difficult thing and I wrote a TwitLonger about it recently because without an organization or company, there’s no direct content you can showcase without overlapping into other scenes. Journalists can come out with articles, Twitch/Mixer streamers or YouTubers can create content in the form of videos. Everything that a social media manager can do, relies on you having an organization or company in order to tweet from and then showcase yourself through.”

“You can of course go the route that I did and create your own account, but it would take a lot of time for something that may not even yield results. So don’t be scared to take small steps into other esports fields. It may benefit you in the long run because if you make videos, you’ll probably learn how to use Adobe Premiere or After Effects. If you write articles, that will really help your understanding of grammar and syntax.”

Some awesome stuff for the budding social media managers out there! We particularly love how Matt talks about bringing additional skills on to your skill set to make yourself more desirable by companies. Video editing, graphic design and writing are the most relevant of these, and would definitely make your application to social media jobs stand out!

Thoughts on volunteer roles to get experience in esports

Volunteer work is a hot topic in esports, and here is what Matt’s thoughts are on volunteering to gain experience in the scene.

“It’s a touchy subject I think that no one can really have a correct answer to - every opinion on it is valid.”

“Volunteering helped for me, personally. In the social media area, you can showcase and build a portfolio on any organization’s account, regardless of size. It doesn’t matter if you’re working on an amateur or professional, if you have a talent for wording and formatting the text of social media posts, then you have that talent. On a side note, my “portfolio” is a second account that I have where I retweet all the tweets that I’ve put out from an account. It’s an easy way to show an organization or company what you’ve personally created.”

“Again, though, I don’t think there is a right answer to this tricky topic. Someone should also realistically look at their worth and their experience. If you really believe that you deserve a paid position, then don’t necessarily settle with volunteer work. If you’re trying to break into the scene and think doing a volunteering position would help build up your skills, then that’s equally respectable and fine.

“Volunteering early on personally has helped me land two paid positions so far in my career. There are several other career paths that people can end up taking though, and each individual is different, so I don’t want to give anyone any wrong advice.”

And that wraps up what we talked to Matt about! Lots of super insightful stuff that has hopefully armed you to start, or better focus, your voyage into esports social media.

Now, go get those jobs in social media!

Follow Matt:

Twitter - https://twitter.com/MBTriton

Image credits: Patrick Maloney and DreamHack / Pierre Yves Laroche