Like it or loath it, Twitter has taken off in the biggest way possible, and it’s here to stay.
A few years ago, every individual, company, and going concern was getting a flashy Web site, now they’re all on Twitter.
I’m not going to insult your intelligence by explaining what Twitter is, if you don’t know, then I somehow doubt you’ve found your way to this article without the help of a responsible adult.
So, now that Twitter is here to stay, you best embrace it— as people, as fans, as fan-blogger-journo-bleacher-creatures.
For my sins, I have a twitter account (The_Lap_Times shameless plug over). I set it up at the start of the year, after hearing the sort of people that were on the Web site already, primarily as a way of peddling my amateur writing wares. And I still do that (look at the link above now, and you’ll probably see a link to this very article), but it has becomes so much more than that.
Over the last few months (and these will mean nothing to you if you are not a racing fan), I have found out about the accident involving the death of Henry Surtees, the uncovering of the Piquet F1 race fixing affair (and the related Briatore/Symonds resignations), the Yates\Petty merger, and, on a tangent, the recent passing of Patrick Swayze first on Twitter.
And it's all because of the people you can find on there.
Twitter presents the entire sports universe in one place.
There are, of course, casual fans and bloggers such as myself on there. However, there are also writers and editors who get paid to write for major Web sites and publications—and most tend to tweet their stories soon after, if not before they hit the Web site they write for.
Then there are the sports themselves—NASCAR has too many twitter accounts to...count, the NFL has an official twitter account, as well as official accounts from the likes of Roger Goodell. Then there are the athletes—you can find out what a player (or at least their PR person) is thinking—and teams themselves. Everyone has a twitter account, or at least has their name on a twitter account, as there are a worrying number of people who seem to pose as the famous person.
Let's look at it another way. Do you, an NFL fan, go on the hunt for NFL news on several different sites—FOX, CBS, ESPN, maybe the official site for your team, or the local press? Twitter will probably have all of them in one place, putting the links to their stories, and much more besides in 140 character (or less) chunks, and provided you’re following them, subscribing to their every tweet, they are delivered instantly to your doorstep (or you laptop, or your blackberry, or your Tweetdeck, whatever one of them is—something about typing on a yacht I think).
Voila! No more searching through umpteen Web sites.
Then there is what can be considered Twitter’s master stroke. You can talk back to them! Do you want to congratulate a player on a good game? Do it. If you don’t agree with the angle of an article from a fully paid up journo, let them know.
Then, provided you're not been overly profane, and the person you’ve replied to is friendly (or savvy) enough, they might reply back to you. It’s like berating your TV, or yelling at the newspaper, only the newspaper or the TV can berate back!
Log onto Twitter while a game is on.
It’s like global smack talk.
Dive in, you’re probably no more knowledgeable than most of the people there.
Of course, you don’t have to type anything. You can set up an account purely as a sort of "reader", sign up and start following the athletes, writers, teams, organizations, companies or whatever else you’re interested in.
However, Twitter, like so much in life is one of those things where what you get out is dependent on what you put in. People are, unfortunately, not going to come to you and give you what you want. You have to go looking for them.
Maybe start by searching for the sort of thing you want to follow. Type in "NFL" and you’ll likely get lots of fans exchanging views on their team’s latest game. But maybe there’ll be one tweet from a team’s official account, click on it.
Follow them if you want.
Now, who do they follow?
A few other teams and their star player. Click, follow. You now have every view and snippet of news they have potentially at your fingertips.
If you’re lazy, try We Follow, type in the "tag" at the top, i.e. "NFL" and watch the list light up ranked by the number of people already following them (and to paraphrase the famous quote one million people (approximately the number following the official NFL account, can’t be wrong). Within the first 25 results lie 11 "official" accounts of NFL teams, at least four players, four of five media outlets, and a single fantasy site. Multiply that down all 812 results the search turns up and, well, you get the picture.
Then on, the other hand, there are the people that will follow you. These won’t happen overnight, but start replying to people, and start getting replies back, start posting links to anything you might put on B/R, or anywhere else, and people will start popping up. These will, at the start, most likely be fellow bloggers (or accounts who only ever ask you to come and see the XXX profile pics). But keep going, and more recognizable names will appear. Maybe, more authoritative amateur sites, then the very teams and people you joined to follow.
Then, when someone follows you, take a look at their accounts and what they post. Are they asking you to look at their XXX pics? No. You think their worth following in return. Do it. It’s like waving at someone on the opposite side of the street, or the playing field.
There will be those of you who think ill of me for having a self-publicising Twitter account, let alone seeming to promote it, and the whole concept of Twitter.
But as sports fans Twitter should be as central to following your sport as drinking a six-pack for a Sunday night game.