Friday, August 12, 2011

The Other Side of Twitter

I’ve built a sports news gathering organization comparable to ESPN. There are 640 correspondents everywhere from Rio de Janeiro to Rochester, New York to Vilnius, Lithuania. Twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week, the news keep flowing directly to my phone. And it costs absolutely nothing.

Some view Twitter as a way of reaching out to others, which is absolutely true. But there’s another huge component that rarely gets mentioned: Twitter enables you to customize the news that comes to you. Whether I want to learn about a hot high school basketball prospect in New York City, track a minor leaguer in Williamsport, Pennsylvania or learn about emerging sports research or technology, I have a source.

Twitter has major advantages over more traditional ways of gathering information, even Google:

1) Getting the jump on real-time sports information. If there is a big trade brewing or other breaking news, you’ll see it on Twitter well before it hits the major sports websites. Why? Writers like Buster Olney or Ken Rosenthal will usually tweet before they post a story. It takes far less time to blast out 140 characters than an entire article that needs to pass through editors before reaching a webpage.

2) Everything comes to you. The mindset has always been to seek out topics which interest and have value to us. Since Twitter enables you to select followers and subjects that provide news you care about, there is no effort or energy required to find it. Whenever you want it, specialized information is there waiting for you.

3) Going beyond Google. For all its strengths, Google requires multiple steps to finding great sports info. You need to first find the right search terms. When you do, there’s no guarantee Google will have what you need. Even if it does, you may waste time sifting through meaningless links. With Twitter, the posts and links come to you. Your trusted followers do the legwork!

While negative tweets have come back to haunt athletes and other people in sports, it’s not very common. Besides, interacting isn’t necessary. It’s possible to build your news gathering organization without ever posting.

I’ve heard skeptics say “I barely have time to check email, why do I want to get on Twitter?” Unlike email, Twitter isn’t something you need to respond to. I’ll avoid reading Twitter for several days during baseball arbitration season. If somebody wants to contact you via Twitter, they’ll use one of its methods that directs correspondence to your inbox, just like an email.

For sports agents, the other side of Twitter can have tremendous value. And it will only get bigger and better.

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