[Update 04.01.2010: Guess I could've included the Twitter accounts for everyone here at PH8 in the original post, eh? @PitchersHit8th, @aprfool79, @andrewdmoses - follow us!]
After seeing a wonderful post at metsgrrl.com outlining the basics of following New York Mets Baseball on Twitter, I decided something similar was necessary for Cards fans. So with a huge tip of the cap to Caryn (@metsgrrl) at metsgrrl.com, I present to you the PH8 Cardinal Fan’s Guide to Twitter for 2010.
As a disclaimer, this guide is intended as a jumping off point for someone unfamiliar with, or looking to expand their use of, Twitter. It is by no means intended to be a all-encompassing, definitive list of people you should be following or behaviors you should adopt when using Twitter, merely recommendations and opinion. If you read this and think you should be on a list of folks to follow, just let me know in the comments below – or better yet, let folks know yourself in the comments below.
One further note – you may see tweets from some of the below Twitter accounts will use profanity or post links to items that contain profanity. Again, I advise you to use your own filter when deciding if this is acceptable to you or not.
Twitter is a fantastic service for those of us anxious to get all of the information we can possibly stand to read and get it immediately. There are also many ways to filter this information to have it presented to you in just the manner you wish to read it.
The more folks you follow on Twitter, the more chatter you will see on your main feed. That can be good or bad depending on your capability to consume lots of information, sometimes a lot of it being meaningless for your purposes. You will also realize that some folks tweet a lot more often than others. The important thing to remember is you have control over what you do and don’t see, using several methods.
The first is simply only following the people you want to read tweets from. It is no longer considered necessary etiquette to follow anyone who’s following you. As Twitter gained popularity, it simply became silly for those popular folks with lots of followers to follow everyone back. So again, maintain your follower list to only receive updates from those you choose. I am currently following 500 folks and it’s a lot to keep up with sometimes, and I’m constantly adding and removing names from that list.
You can also use any one of various Twitter client programs to filter out what you’re reading. For instance, I use the program TweetDeck, which allows me to filter the people I’m following into columns so I am certain to see the tweets I want to see. I have a column for folks who tweet mostly about the Cardinals, I have a search column that follows the #stlcards hashtag (more on that later), I have a column for writers and bloggers of other baseball teams and just ball in general, and various other columns. By doing this, I am able to stay current with a lot of tweets – because if you’re not on the website, or using a desktop client, or a phone client, you will inevitably miss tweets and the more folks you follow pushes those tweets out of your stream.
FOLLOW THOSE IN THE KNOW
The Cardinals’ beat writers have really embraced Twitter and trust me, it’s a wonderful thing for Cards fans. There is some variation in how they use Twitter during games, and how they use it during their down time, and how often they are updating. One important thing to remember here is that Twitter is, for each person who uses it, what they choose to make of it. Don’t be upset if a Cardinal beat writer is chattering about Florida State football, for instance. If it bugs you that much, go back and unfollow.
My recommendations of those on the regular beat:
In addition to those, several other members of the St. Louis media are talking, writing, and/or tweeting about the Cardinals, but not covering a regular beat with the team:
Finally, there are the official accounts of the club and also personal accounts of some front office folks:
(Abbamondi and Dewitt III have yet to post anything, but the accounts are there.)
The minor league affiliates and writers for those teams have their own accounts as well:
Some Cardinal players and the manager have also taken to Twitter. Again, understand that most of the things these guys are tweeting are not necessarily baseball related, but the access is there nonetheless (and I have to assume that this is an incomplete list, when we start including minor leaguers):
As I mentioned earlier, one of the beautiful things about Twitter is the access it provides to not only more information and interaction with the local baseball folks, but also national writers who are just as happy to go back and forth on a wide array of topics.
There are still a group of national writers who are apparently uninterested with trying to engage with regular ole’ fans, mostly the ESPN and big-time folks who are posting links to their stories or breaking rumors and the like, but aren’t going to respond to your question about whether the Cards can resign Albert Pujols. I still choose to follow these folks, because it saves me the time of checking ESPN or somewhere else to see if there is anything interesting to read – their Twitter feeds let me know instead. Your mileage may vary, and you may wish to only follow those that are apt to respond to you once in a while. For that interaction, I would recommend:
You can plenty of writers for other teams on Twitter too, if that’s your cup of tea. I believe all of the MLB teams have at least one beat writer that is using Twitter by now, so you can keep up with one writer from every team if you wish, or just those nearest to the Cards in the NL Central.
TWEETING FROM MOM’S BASEMENT
The Cardinal blogosphere is very alive on Twitter, with many solid blogs, writers, and folks who just get how to use Twitter to interact with other fans accessible on Twitter on a daily basis.
Other sites use Twitter like some of the national writers, and use their account merely for posting links to their new posts. Again, this is where you must decide for yourself what you want to get out of following someone – whether you want to have their new content delivered to you here, or if you prefer to keep your Twitter feed clear for those who are actually having discussions.
Some of the more frequent users who have gotten into a groove using Twitter to have discussions:
Similarly to the writers for other teams, you can find all manner of bloggers for other teams as well, such as the aforementioned @metsgrrl, many of which are great to talk about baseball with, even if it’s not Cardinals specific. There are also lots of general baseball bloggers and sabermetric geniuses out there, if that’s your cup of tea.
I have a pretty healthy list of bloggers from other teams and the Cardinals that I currently follow, mostly to keep up on what’s going on around the league, but also to keep up on what’s going on around the blogosphere. Twitter has connected many a fan and/or blogger to do some collaborative things as well as just foster a good-natured rivalry before a game. It can be entertaining to say the least.
There’s really no intrinsic value provided by these folks, other than a good chuckle every so often. The impersonation accounts that run rampant across Twitter can sometimes provide a welcome giggle. A couple you might be interested in, baseball-related:
Be advised, as with anyone trying to write humor, these guys can hit a wall every so often and wind up repeating themselves or really stretching just to get a laugh. Once more, my advice is to use your own judgement whether it’s worth your time to see these tweets.
There is no shortage of just plain Cardinal fans on Twitter, eager to gather up as many tweets from the beat guys or us bloggers at every turn. They’re not typically interested in sitting down to write at a blog, but the 140 character blips on Twitter are just enough to get their point across. This is an area of Twitter that is definitely variable, and your mileage will wildly vary. Many of these folks spend a lot of time talking about the Cardinals, but just as much talking about the guy who cut them off on the interstate or how much Budweiser they drank the night before. This is where you can again apply your own personal filters for what you want to read regularly and what you don’t.
Ultimately, the best way to build your list of followers is to start with a base that you are certain you like – the beat writers, your favorite blogs, etc – and then start exploring. Twitter allows you to view the users that are following you or anyone else, and you can also view who they are following. Follow that? I’ve found plenty of folks that I follow and interact with by clicking through others’ follower lists. The best recommendation for anyone on Twitter is to have a large number of followers. It means other users are interested in what they have to say.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
- If you see the letters RT (retweet) or HT (hat tip) with an @user behind it anywhere in a tweet, that means someone has basically repeated what the original @user said. This is a tactic that should be used intelligently. For instance, if you are following all of the beat writers, you will see something like this on any given day or for any given event:There is no reason, in my opinion, for anyone to retweet those messages. If you’re not already following one of the beat writers, chances are you are following one of the others, and you already got the news. All you are doing by retweeting something from Derrick Goold or Matthew Leach announcing that Albert Pujols has signed a contract extension is cluttering up the feeds of those following all of those beat-writers, you, and each additional user retweeting that information. My personal approach to retweeting is to try to add value. Don’t just rehash information, add to the discussion. So instead of retweeting directly (and don’t use the awful native Twitter retweet function) that the Cardinals re-signed Matt Holliday, retweet whichever post you choose, and add “I think they got a steal” or whatever your own opinion is.
- You’ll see folks add hashtags to their posts, like the #stlcards one I mentioned above. These are a way for folks to easily “file” tweets, often during an event or referencing a particular common subject. Last season, folks following a Cardinal game could pay attention to tweets about that game by referencing hashtag #2009XXXXslnchc – or #Year/Month/Day/Visitor/Home. Hashtags are another great way to find other folks talking about the same things you are, but you may not be following the
- #ff – another hashtag – this one is for Follow Friday. You’ll often see users make a #ff list of other users they think are worth pointing out to their followers to add to their feed. Follow that? Ok, good.
- You can make your tweets private in your account settings, effectively blocking others from following your posts without your permission. Other users must make a specific request to you asking for you to allow them to follow your tweets. Many find this useful to control dissemination of what they are posting.
- One additional note about retweeting and passing along information from others – always ensure that you are providing proper credit. If someone posts a link that you enjoy and wish to share with your followers, retweet their post with your thoughts on it. Remove small words that don’t add value to the tweet, make sure that the original message still gets across, but always ensure that the original poster receives credit for the original tweet. The national guys really struggle with this (or don’t even try, because they think they don’t have to) and it can be a challenge in only 140 characters, but I think it is critical for a communication medium that is intended to foster somewhat intimate relationships between users that have to choose to communicate with each other. Be nice.