Twitter is eight years old and it’s usefulness around here as a score-reporting tool for fans, friends and reporters alike, will turn five this September.
Every day, more and more schools, athletic departments and teams of all kinds sign up for the microblogging social media service to give updates on their teams. We’ve also seen the growth of bloggers and cubs carving out their niche as reporters on the site.
But Twitter — which can be best described as public text messaging — can be tough to understand for first-timers. Some catch on quicker and better than others. As for the others, even the simple process of adding an avatar seems a challenge.
But that’s ok. If you’re on Twitter, you’re already ahead of the game.
What we at GameTimeCT are concerned about is Twitter’s minutia — in this case, the use of hashtags.
We want your scores and we want them now. Hashtags are how we find them.
Yes, hashtags, those befuddling Twitter runes preceded by a pound (#) sign and usually followed by a cryptic arrangement of letters or run-on words.
Hashtags were not an invention of Twitter, but its users, who grew exponentially from the site’s inception. Among the cacophony of chatter, there had to be a way to pare conversations down to specific subjects and engage in a discussion.
Hashtagging was the answer. You simply add a ‘#’ to a subject term, and you would be taken to a list of every Twitter account using it.
For me, hashtags were my first ‘Ah HA!’ moment on Twitter. I signed up for Twitter in 2008 (hence the 40K+ Tweets), but didn’t really get the concept of hashtags until the Iran Election controversy in June of 2009.
I desperately wanted to see information on the protests in Iran. Twitter accounts discussing the chaos in Tehran and elsewhere used the tag #IranElection. A simple click on that link on my phone — which Twitter enabled expressly due to the popularity of the #IranElection tag — took me to every account Tweeting about the chaos and I was better informed.
A few months later, Connecticut Post was looking for a way to display scores on its website. Their first suggestion was to have me — their online sports producer — field phone calls and text messages in the Bridgeport office and post them online.
But I didn’t want to sit in an office. I wanted to BE at the games. So, taking a cue from the Iran Election system, we decided to gather scores by using a hashtag.
And #CTHSFOOTBALL was born. We created a widget that searched for that tag and displayed it on Connecticut Post. Here’s the display for the SECOND-EVER #CTHSFOOTBALL live scoring blog. (The first one is gone). A current widget example for boys basketball is at right.
For brevity’s sake, #CTHSFOOTBALL became #CTFB at the suggestion of Eugene Driscoll of the Valley Independent. And then that eventually changed to #CTHSFB when the entire community Cass Tech High School of Detroit usurped that tag to talk about their championship football team in 2011.
With the help of Joe Palladino of the Republican-American and Matt Fischer of CIAC, we created a standard hashtag for every CT sport.
#CTHSFB – Football
#CTSOC – Soccer
#CTBSOC – Boys Soccer
#CTGSOC – Girls Soccer
#CTFH – Field hockey
#CTSWIM – Swimming
#CTVB – Volleyball
#CTBB – Boys basketball
#CTGB – Girls basketball
#CTHK – Hockey
#CTWR – Wrestling
#CTBASE – Baseball
#CTSB or #CTSOFT – Softball (We still have not come to a consensus on this)
#CTLAX – Lacrosse
#CTBLAX -Boys lacrosse
#CTGLAX – Girls lacrosse
#CTTRACK – Track and field
#CTGYM – Gymnastics
#CTBTEN – Boys tennis
#CTGTEN – Girls tennis
Its greatest use is for getting out scores. Just add one of those corresponding hashtags to your Tweets, and it’ll show up in a running list of scores, photos and story links.
Then, all you have to do is click the tag to easily access on your computer or phone during those long road trips home. Or, for the more advanced Twitter users, you can create a hashtag column on TweetDeck or a similar Twitter app, like Hootsuite or a myriad of others.
For best practices click here or here. Some accounts like to hashtag by conference as well as sport. That’s fine. I don’t bother because it only really works in some cases. #FCIAC is a unique acronym. But SCC and ECC and CCC are not. I’d just stick to tagging by sport. It’s quick and simple and gets you the desired result.
Also, don’t tag more than once. And stay away from town hashtags, for the love of God. The more you tag, the more it becomes an unsightly mess.
All of this is just a roundabout way to say: If you’re going to tweet scores, DON’T FORGET TO TAG. :)
And tag correctly.
This has been a GameTimeCT PSA.