How to Get Started With College Football Twitter

Streeter Lecka

Come join in. It's great.

The corner of the Internet known as College Football Twitter is a great place. If you've never tried Twitter or you tried it and didn't get it, read this and give it another go.

What is Twitter?

This is a question that not even the company itself has a succinct answer to. The reason is because Twitter ends up being whatever you make it to be.

It is all in who you follow. Following on Twitter means you are subscribing to someone's updates. When you open it up, you'll see the most recent updates from the accounts you follow. If you follow a lot of sports people, your Twitter stream will be full of sports talk. If you follow political people, it'll be full of politics. If you follow business people, it will be full of business chat. You get the picture.

How do I get started on college football's corner of Twitter?

Basically, you sign up for an account and then follow people. That's really all there is to it. Once you do that, you will get a stream of updates based on who you follow, you'll be able to interact with others on the service, and you can put out your own updates.

Want to see what it's like without even signing up? Try browsing this list, which I've populated with 100 Twitter accounts. It's not an exhaustive list of people you should try following—I follow 520 accounts at time of this publishing—but it's something to get you started. The list is heavily biased towards people from the southeast, which should make sense given what this blog is about, but there are people from a few other places plus some folks on the national beat.

If you like what you see, open up a Twitter account and hop over to the list's members page. From there, just click the Follow button for each account and then you're set.

OK, but some of your picks suck. How do I find better ones?

If you want to find specific people or publications, they'll probably be promoting their Twitter usernames somewhere. It's pretty easy to search out people and find them.

The way I tend to my list of follows is that essentially I get others to do the work for me. I have my list of accounts I follow, and if those people mention, recommend, or otherwise bring an account to my attention that looks interesting, then I'll try following it. If I end up not liking that account's updates, I unfollow it. Simple as that. Twitter doesn't have to be complicated.

I will give one note of caution: don't immediately go following a bunch of celebrities or well-known athletes. Most of them use Twitter as a PR outlet, and some can actually be pretty irritating. If a famous person is actually worth following, word will get around. Trust the people you follow to lead you in the right direction.

I don't have followers. How do I get those?

By using Twitter, basically. Anyone who joins Twitter and isn't already known for something has to work at it some to get followers. Replying to people is one way to get noticed, but if you're serious about collecting followers to read your thoughts, you're going to need to put out those thoughts to your audience of zero.

Does it feel good talking to an empty room? No, but everyone who has ever started a blog knows the feeling. If your reply catches someone's eye, you want to have something of substance on your tweet list for them to decide if following you is a good idea or not. Just be patient and try to enjoy the conversation.

Twitter has its own jargon. What does it all mean?

On Twitter user accounts are signified by an @ symbol ahead of them. Mine is @Year2. That's why you see @ signs a lot in relation to Twitter.

A tweet is the basic unit of Twitter. When someone posts an update, that's a tweet. Famously, tweets may only be 140 characters. The stream of tweets you see from the people you follow is your Twitter timeline.

Here is what a tweet looks like on the Twitter website:

Screen_shot_2014-05-05_at_11.27.47_am_medium

If you see something you like that you think your followers will be interested in, you can forward it to them via a retweet. The way you should do this is by using the retweet button right there on the tweet.

There is also the manual retweet, which is seen here as well. That is where you copy someone's tweet into a new one of your own and credit it by putting RT @username: in front of it. That is a handy way of doing things if you wish to comment on the subject of the tweet as you see here. You should not retweet this way if you have nothing to add, because then your followers' timelines will end up seeing multiple copies of the same thing. That's irritating, so don't use manual retweets very often.

If you want to comment on something with a manual retweet but you run out of characters, you can try using a modified tweet. It works like a manual retweet, but you'll use MT @username: instead to indicate that the original message has been changed. If you do one of these, take care not to distort the original meaning of the tweet you're modifying.

If you want someone's attention, you mention them in a tweet. All mentioning entails is including someone's username in the tweet with the @ sign in front of it. In the example above, @rockmnation has mentioned @Dave_Matter. Twitter will automatically alert people when they've been mentioned by someone.

Twitter's search functionality is quite poor, so there are some ways to work around it.

If you want to save a particular tweet for future reference, you can use the favorite button. This doesn't necessarily mean that you like that tweet above all others; think of it like how a web browser might refer to your bookmarks as "favorite places".

The other way is through hashtags. A hashtag is in the form of #something, and the name comes from the pound/number sign being known as "hash" in some places. When you click on a hashtag, Twitter will take you to a list of recent and notable tweets that include it. For example, someone who covers Florida might include #Gators in any tweets on the subject. These days, few people outside corporations and news outlets use hashtags sincerely. They're often used as a means for jokes and snark, and you'll pick up on that pretty quickly.

Twitter's search functionality is bad in part because the medium is meant to be inherently ephemeral. Don't feel pressure to read every single tweet from the people you follow. If you miss hours or days of tweets, it's no big deal.

The social contract on Twitter is also pretty loose. Generally speaking, unfollowing an account is not a kind of social insult in the way that unfriending on Facebook can be. If you no longer want updates from someone, there is no need to alert them to that fact or apologize. Just hit unfollow and be on your way. There also is no pressure to follow someone who follows you. A small number of Twitter users do believe in following anyone who follows you, but you should feel no need to engage in that convention.

College Football Twitter is one of the consistently best things in my life. I've made friends there, I've shared great experiences there, and it never fails to make me smile or laugh on a daily basis. If you've never tried it or did try and couldn't get into it, I encourage you to give it a shot. It can be a source of great joy in your life. Come join in.

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