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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Eight Tweeters Tweeting

My latest article from Bristol City's matchday programme, Red Alert: Millwall, Jan 3rd

(Slightly belatedly) At this time of year it seems every publication does some sort of review of the year that was.  To ensure ‘On the Social’ isn’t left out, here is the unofficial review of Twitter and football in 2011.

What happened in 2011?

1)      Tweets, tweets and more tweets:  An explosion in users, particularly those who regularly tweet and an ever-increasing number of journalists, players and officials from across the footballing community.  I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of football clubs – if not all – now have an official account, whilst many also have key personnel such as their press officers, media managers and commercial managers tweeting officially.

2)      Ryan Giggs was outed as a love-rat:  This is probably the story more than any other that raised public awareness of how you can find things out on Twitter that you can’t always via mainstream media.  Whilst Fleet Street and broadcasters were restricted to talking about ‘an unnamed footballer’, Twitter users could be 99% confident they knew who the mystery man was by the sheer volume of tweets on the matter. 

3)      Deserters:  For every 100 new users there are countless others, particularly famous ones who join but quickly disappear from view.  Man Utd’s Darron Gibson was enticed to join by his Old Trafford team-mates but inside just two hours received such a horrendous amount of abuse (much of it from United fans) that he quickly quit.  Former City loanee Stephen Caulker also made a brief appearance but soon disappeared for reasons unknown, whilst Gary Neville sadly decided that a Sky punditry career didn’t fit with an open Twitter account and his often amusing brotherly bickering arguments with Phil (@Fizzer18) ceased. 

4)     Racism: I won’t go into this too much as two previous articles have already covered it but unfortunately it seems that reported on-field incidents have resulted in some deciding they can racially abuse footballers via their computer.  Sadly this is not occurring in small numbers. 

5)      Most popular event:  The overall Twitter record for most tweets per second was amazingly broken twice in the same day by two separate football events, and not necessarily the ones you’d expect.  Whilst the Champions League final between Barcelona and Man Utd trailed behind New Year’s Eve and the Royal Wedding as events of note, on July 17th Brazil’s exit from the Copa America peaked at 7,166 tweets per second worldwide.  This was surprisingly trumped just hours later by a moment few would guess could cause just a stir – the end of the Women’s World Cup.  For the record, the Royal Wedding peaked at just over 6,000, whilst US troops finding and killing Osama Bin Laden managed just 5,200 tweets per second. 

6)     Most tweeted about:  Whereas the event above focuses on a single point in time, over the whole year it’s perhaps unsurprising to find Wayne Rooney top of the list.  The most famous English footballer is naturally going to be a popular topic, especially when that player is on Twitter, has had hair implants, gets sent off and banned from much of Euro 2012 and has a mildly amusing row with X Factor flop Frankie Cocozza.

Second in the list was Fernando Torres, with his poor form for Chelsea a weekly source of gold dust for some of the wittier members of the online community.  The next three are far more random, with ‘Howard Webb’ leading ‘Wembley Stadium’ and ‘Colo Colo’ (a Chilean side) to complete the top 5.  I’d love to explain why, but can't.  Frankly that’s just Twitter! 

7)     Relatively small stories become big news:  The ability of Twitter to transform what would previously have been a small, local story, something that perhaps would merit a single paragraph in the daily national papers into more of a feature has been notable.  Billy Sharp’s celebration after scoring just days after the death of his son, Sir Chris Hoy receiving insults from Tottenham fans who mistook him for referee Chris Foy and Sam Bender, a Colchester player who was on loan at Accrington Stanley and playing in a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie when he was knocked unconscious and had to be given a drip whilst still on the pitch are three such stories and there are undoubtedly many many more. 

8)     And finally a more local angle:  For City fans it has been a year in which news about the club has been trending in the UK on a handful of occasions.  Keith Millen trended nationally once the news broke that he was leaving the club, as did Dave Jones and Billy Davies almost instantly as rumours began to surface of who might be appointed his replacement.  David James’ appearance on Football Focus caused a plethora of users to remark whilst more recently our 2-0 win against league leaders Southampton caused ‘Bristol City’ to be in the top 3 trends of the evening, above all the Premier League sides and much to the disgruntlement of many of the Twitter users from the other side of our city! 

The Exiled Robin
Follow me on Twitter: @TheExiledRobin

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