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Why Twitter and Facebook Give Me Hope

3 - Published March 6, 2009 by in College

As a lacrosse fan, this year has been different for me. I’m not paying any more attention to the MCLA or NCAA than I normally do. In fact, I think I’ve Google’d “NCAA lacrosse TV schedule” only once or twice in the last few months. (Honestly, I don’t know why I try, Comcast doesn’t get ESPNU.) But the truth is I feel more connected to this sport than I’ve been in quite some time.

This get’s me excited… because if I’m feeling more connected (my tech-savviness is after-all bordering on a disorder) than the rest of the lacrosse community can’t be too far behind.

The main reason I’m feeling more connected is because of all the MCLA lax news that’s being shared by CollegeLax.us on their twitter feed. I signed up to get SMS updates of their feed, and I’m more connected to the game, with the least amount of effort that I’ve ever been. All I do is sit around, sip my coffee and find out ASU won’t be playing the Utes this year.

I have this dream that I’m able to get score by score updates for all the games I care about when I want them… not just the games a Twitter using Lacrosse fan happens to be at. Here’s a crazy idea – what if all stat keepers were required to tweet scoring updates? What if every university was required to have a twitter account to share updates?

Of course, these requirements and information sharing would be all fine and dandy…But the biggest problem with twitter is it’s tiny user base; somewhere around 5-6 million users. Compared to Facebook (which has more than 175 million active users worldwide) it’s tough to imagine that Twitter will be the all-mighty solution to lacrosse’s growth problem. Could Facebook be that solution?

If you haven’t heard, Facebook is once again re-designing it’s home page. Here’s a good synopsis of the changes from Mashable. The new “Pages” feature will bring with it a very Twitter-like feel now that any brand/organization can post status updates that will show up in your real time “stream”. You’ll even be able to create groups and filter your “stream” to bring to the front information you want to see, whether it’s your core group of friends, your co-workers, your favorite blogs or your favorite lacrosse teams.

I get asked all the time at the office “what’s next?” for Social Networking. After Myspace and Facebook, what’s the next big thing going to be? I always tell people that it probably won’t be another network. Very simply its Aggregation, Integration and Filtration.

  • Aggregation means no more silo’d experiences. Instead, everything will be in one or two places; think a much more refined FriendFeed.
  • Integration means services will enhance the current experience on your social network of choice, but won’t make you create a new network of “friends”.
  • Lastly and somewhat tied to the first point, Filtration of social data is really the next frontier. We are all bombarded with social data these days and Filtration allows us to easily extract the value we’re seeking when and where we need it.

It seems to me that Facebook is meeting that future head on with their new changes. I’m mostly just glad this won’t become a FriendFeed like firehose of information…. Even Twitter is beginning to feel that way for me.

What Facebook has done is allow brands/organizations to become much more active and personified… much like they currently are on Twitter. As Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook shared yesterday, the changes really bring to life what it means to be a “Friend” (two-way, reciprocal friendship) vs. a “Fan” (one way, very similar to “following” on twitter).

So what does this mean for lacrosse? Immediately, CollegeLax.us will be accessible through Facebook to the vast majority of its own player and alumni (cus seriously, who doesn’t have a Facebook profile these days?). However on Twitter, only a small and very tech-savvy subset of its players/alumni/fans are present. I don’t think Facebook will ever be able to replicate the immediacy benefit I get from Twitter and SMS updates, but CollegeLax could very, very easily drive traffic from Facebook to their Twitter profile in order to bring that benefit to many.

All in all, I see the Facebook re-design creating a synergistic relationship with Twitter, not simply becoming a Twitter clone as some have mentioned. I imagine the combination of Facebook and Twitter making it much easier for fans like myself to stay involved with and aware of the MCLA. The solution is out there, but the network of players/alumni hasn’t been there to drive major growth. The pieces are starting to fall in place my friends… Things are going to change, I can feel it, and it get’s me really excited.

- Joenandez

Follow me on twitter – www.twitter.com/joenandez