What is Twitter Good For?

By Patrick Patten, Handride

Well what was once a trickle is now a full blown tsunami. Twitter is here, and whether people know what it's good for or not they are tweeting and clogging up blackberries and phone in-boxes by the millions. (FYI no one really knows exactly what Twitter is good for, hell the people running it can't make a dime off it.) I was not a early convert. In fact, I have had my doubts about its viability and still do. However, let me give it a go and tell you (horse racing fans & industry) what I'm looking for out of your tweets, and how I think it can be useful.

The easiest thing you can do to your Twitter is turn it into an RSS. The TBA uses twitterfeed. I like the idea of putting out the TBA stories out there via Twitter, but I wouldn't want to put a huge RSS on Twitter. Something that would post more than 25 stories a day might just turn into noise and as a follower I'd probably stop following. The truth is there are many ways of getting an RSS feed and Twitter is not the easiest. So, tread lightly on this front: Maybe just your favorite stories, or the "hot" stories of the day, headlines etc.

Make Twitter public. This is probably the biggest hurdle for the racing industry. Yes I can log on to Twitter and see your tweets but how does that benefit anyone else? It doesn't. The TBA grouped together to form the Twitter tab on the homepage. Now someone who doesn't have Twitter can see what we're talking about and follow our links. Take your Twitter feed and display it somewhere. Not every post will make sense or be "topical" but it does add personality. The back and forth a twitter feed can have with another member might look confusing to a person who can only see one side, but it is what it is, people can figure it out.

Horse racing information is probably THE perfect fit for Twitter. Things like scratches, carryovers, and changes are a good start. However, I would love someone to twitter from the rail about what horses look like, action on the tote board, a funny pic of something happening at the track right then and there. I'm not sure you can call this news, but it does have value. The way a horse looked before a race after the race is run is worth $0, before the race is run is a different story. Twitter allows that value to come out because it is real time and short. Imagine a day where virtual stable tweets you your stable workouts. Image a clocker just putting out little comments about workouts. You could have the same thing at sales.

Twitter is all those things, but it can't stand alone. Don't expect anyone to get a hundred thousand Twitter followers unless you have a name like Shaq or Brooke Burke. I think of Twitter as a public Instant Message conversation w/ everyone at the same time. That idea can't possibly stand alone, it has to be leaning on something. For the TBA it's inside our homepage and adds a little character to our TBA feed, and some members post their tweets on their site. This "conversation" might be more difficult for industry folks. Are they willing to share a conversation?

To all the tracks out there I'd encourage you to collectively come together somewhere (maybe the TBA homepage email me: contact@tbablogs.com) and everywhere, and I'd include and encourage the writers to do the same thing. A conversation is only as good as those partaking, if you're talking to yourself you know you're not a good Tweeter.

Consider some of these Tweeters as Industry: BloodHorse, TTimes, NYRAnews, NTRA1, Beulah Park, Johnleemedia, NYRAComm

And of course the one you need to follow: TBAblogs

And And you can follow all the TBA members who Tweet over at the homepage 2nd tab.

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