It's time to ramble on…

The thoughts of a young journalist in southeastern Michigan

Tweeting gold, silver and bronze: My unique experience with Twitter the last two weeks

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As noted in an earlier post, I am in love with the Winter Olympiad.

I’ve loved the Winter Games since they were held in Nagano, Japan in 1998 when I was 10. I remember watching the flag from the World Trade Centers be carried in during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. And I still own the official U.S. men’s cap from the 2006 Torino Games.  I don’t know why, but I think it has to do with the world coming together and competing in events no one had even heard of until the Games come. It is great to watch some of the world’s best athletes come together to compete in sports people don’t care about most of the time. Whether it be Apolo Anton Ohno setting a U.S. record for Winter Olympic medals, or hockey goalie Ryan Miller winning MVP for his performance during the Olympic tournament, I take it all in and love every second of it.

During the Winter Games in Vancouver the last two weeks, I made an interesting and bias decision I hadn’t made in a long time when it comes to social media: I turned my Twitter account into an everything-Winter Olympics 2010 account.

This was a move I did not take lightly, as I’ve been taught to keep a keen eye on my social networking sites because potential employers can look at them and determine what they wish from them. Whether or not they see things the way I do is up to them. But none the less, I decided that for two weeks, I would tweet nothing but Olympics updates, links, scores, and general encouragement for the Games to help promote them and get people interested and updated on them (except for the rare shameless plug to a story or video I produced at CM Life). And I don’t think I ever tweeted anything horribly inappropriate, I just turned my account into an information page for people to know what’s going in Vancouver.

The transition was quite strange. Almost immediately, I found myself with some new followers, ones that saw my frequent use of the #Vancouver2010 hashtag (a way to sort out tweets, to those of you that do not use the site). I found my tweets being retweeted on some accounts, including those strictly created for these Games. It was strange suddenly becoming a part of a movement I had long told myself I would not join: the bias, non-neutral movement.

It was amazing to see how a similar interest linked myself with people from around the globe, particularly Canadians. It was even interesting to see how people I knew reacted to the sudden change and volume of tweets sent out from me. In the two weeks during the Games, I must have tweeted at least 200 times using the “#Vancouver2010” hashtag. To some on my follower list, I may have been a bit annoying, but some replied at me and sparked a discussion that may have not happened had my followers not known about my undertaking with my account.

Moving from a non-biased journalist account to a more supporting view of the Olympic Winter Games was an experience that I hope to continue – if Twitter is still a site myself and others use – when the Games take place in 2012 in London, England. Although I am a bigger Winter Games fan, the Summer Games can prove just as exciting, as Michael Phelps showed us two years ago. It was refreshing to bring that more human touch to my communicating, something that does not happen as much as it can because of the nature of my writing. But to jump in and join a movement is something I recommend every serious journalist do.

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Written by David Veselenak

March 2, 2010 at 7:02 am

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