Whether you love it or hate it, Twitter has changed the field of sports journalism. Just last decade, the only way to follow along with a sporting event was to either attend it yourself or by tuning in on television. Now, any fan can log onto Twitter during the game and, simply by following the proper accounts, can learn more about the game and their favorite team than ever before. Play-by-play, analysis, social interactions, you can do it all on Twitter. But have you ever wondered how sports journalists have grasped the now standard practice of live tweeting? Here are some tips to help you grow your skill set as a journalist on Twitter.
Know Who You Are Representing
Before the game even starts, take a minute to remind yourself who you are representing in the press box. You’ve earned a seat that few others will ever get to experience, and it is a privilege. Press boxes are professional work places, and should be treated as such. Know that if you are a college student in their first year working in the press box after three years in the rowdy student section, you are expected to be professional, especially on Twitter. So don’t show any favoritism when that player you’ve been rooting for all these years scores a big touchdown. Keep your tweets professional and unbiased. There is one exception to this rule. If you are tweeting for an account strictly devoted to the team such as the official team account, then go wild.
Know the Value of Pre-Game Tweets
Are you a statistical nerd that loves to crunch numbers and tell all your friends about it? Then the hour leading up to the game is your time to shine. Start with a real simple tweet that tells followers where you are, maybe what the weather is like, the time remaining until the start of the game, and obviously who is playing in the game. Then, start diving into interesting numbers. This could include the all-time series record, the season record if it’s a sport like baseball, potential team, conference or league records that could fall during the game, and any other statistics you think might be of interest to others. It’s perfect filler while waiting for the game to start.
Know What to Tweet and How Often to Tweet
Live tweeting can be tricky to get a hang of because every sport is different. You might think for example, that you should tweet out every play that happens in a baseball game because it moves so slow, right? Wrong. Just like any sport, tweet only the moments that could have an impact on the outcome. If the leadoff batter pops out to the shortstop, there’s no need to tweet that. But if the leadoff batter starts off the game with a triple? Your followers will want to know about that. In the world of live tweeting, less is more.
Hashtags Are Your Best Friend
Sure, hashtags can sometimes be funny on Twitter. But in the world of sports journalism, they serve an important purpose. Almost every sporting event these days has an “official hashtag.” Most times its a very simple hashtag. For example, the official hashtag of the ongoing Blackhawks versus Red Wings series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is #CHIvsDET. It’s simple and easy to search for. Find out from someone in the press box if there is an official hashtag for the game and learn to use it. You will probably even gain some new followers from fans searching for the hashtag.
Gather Quotes and Tweet Them Out
Fans love to hear what the players have to say about the game, and it’s your job as a sports journalist to gather those quotes and relay them to the fans. Twitter is a great way to do that. While transcribing quotes for your article, take the best sound bites and tweet them out, pending that they are 140 characters or less of course. Tweeting out quotes are a great way to give fans instant post-game coverage without making them wait for the recap, which might not be posted until you leave the stadium at 2 o’clock in the morning.
Don’t Forget to Link Your Story
It is after all the reason you’re at the game, right? It seems simple enough, but give your followers an easy way to find the story. Just tweet out the headline along with a link, and you’ve done your final job for the day at the stadium. If you wind up having to post the story in the middle of the night, tweet it once from the stadium, and once the next morning along with the abbreviation, ICYMI, which stands for “In case you missed it,” because chances are, most of your followers are sound asleep by the time you’re able to post the game recap.