Let me preface this post by saying that I have only been truly using Twitter since early October so I am by no means an expert on the subject. However, my introduction to this social media site has opened my eyes and I have truly benefitted from it, which is why I am passing along what I do know so far.
What is Twitter?
For those of us who were first introduced to Facebook, take the status updates and limit it to 140 characters and you have the foundation of Twitter. You can also view Twitter as a micro-blogging system. A tweet is each message posted by a user. Since then, it has matured into more than just updating your friends with what you’re doing. People now use it for a variety of reasons including to make contacts, share information like an interesting blog post or an informational article, and you can use it for fun and keeping in touch with friends. TwiTip has a great post up entitled 10 Easy Steps for Twitter Beginners that I would recommend new users to check out.
@username This is what you enter when you want to address another Twitter user in response to their previous tweet or to engage them in a conversation.
#hashtag This is used as a sort of category marker as it aggregates all the tweets using that hashtag. During the election, users could include #election in their tweet. It allowed individuals to search for that hashtag and see all the tweets with the hashtag.
You can check out other FAQ over at the Twitter website.
There are some useful programs and websites that can help you sort and keep track of all the tweeting going on every day. In order to search for individuals, you can simply use the search function on Twitter’s website. For a more thorough search, I recommend Twellow which allows you to search for users with similar interests. When I first got my account, I used Twellow to search for other individuals who worked in PR and/or liked hockey. It’s a great starting point if you don’t really know anyone using Twitter before you start (as was the case with me).
I like to use TweetDeck, which is a program you can download that allows you to (1) see the latest tweets from users you are following in realtime, (2) your direct messages and @replies in real time, (3) TwitScoop buzzwords so you can see what Twitterers are talking about, and (4) relevant searches. Think of the search as the Google Alert for Twitter. For example, I asked TweetDeck to update a column whenever there is a tweet about PR, sport media, or sports PR. That way, I will be able to capture the tweets I may be most interested in and might miss if I’m not already following that user.
So how is this relevant to sports?
Twitter is a great way to connect with people from all walks of life. As a mere sports fan, Twitter enables me to discuss the Detroit Red Wings game with other hockey fans and get interesting updates from other Twitterers regarding other hockey games going on that night. I really enjoy when a user actually goes to the game and tweets about interesting game moments or action that occurs off-the-ice.
From a professional standpoint, Twitter allows sports PR practitioners to interact and network with others in the industry as well as share ideas and news and trends. I know I have learned a ton from my own Twitter experience because I basically get to listen in on what these great PR, social media, and sports professionals talk about what’s the big thing, what’s affecting them, and gives me a great opportunity to get involved in that discussion. Another plus is that Twitterers share links to interesting and relevant articles, blog posts, and more that I may never have seen otherwise. By reading this highly informative posts or articles, I can add that to my base of knowledge on the subject.
While I highly recommend interacting and engaging with other Twitter users, you can just start listening at first before diving in yourself and you can still learn a lot in the process. However, you really won’t develop any relationships until you start sharing with others and make it a two-way deal instead of a one-way street.