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May 16 / Tyler Horner

How Twitter, other social media can lead to better analysis

Tyler HornerThe social-media landscape can seem daunting if you’re new to it. That’s why I knew I had some catching up to do when I, a lifetime non-user of Twitter, was assigned to analyze the Twitter buzz surrounding an NFL draft prospect as part of the Advanced Program in Sports Media.

I had a few things going for me. While I saw tweets appear from time to time on my television screen and in sports forums, I had yet to produce one myself, or even attempt to read one firsthand online. 

What I found out is that there are upwards of a quarter billion active users on Twitter and finding all the relevant ones was not easy. I found the search method was the biggest time saver for me, as all I had to do was type in the player’s name and the most notable tweets were already sorted. From there, the task of analyzing the trends was easy. 

I quickly discovered several newsworthy tweets and after inserting them into my article, the accompanying commentary flowed without challenge. In just a few hours, my social-media acumen grew tenfold and it made me all the more equipped to utilize Twitter and other social-media platforms as providers of additional context for analysis in my articles. 

While I had previously stuck to offering my own opinions based on game recaps and press conferences, that can lead to repetitive and insipid writing. Sharing and responding to outside opinions, from well-known reporters or fans, clues the reader in to what the masses are thinking, allowing me to assess the validity of those opinions and draw conclusions based on their sum. 

Since this assignment, my analysis has become far more fluid and relevant. I’ve realized the journalistic value of social media and am learning more and more every day about how to use it to my advantage. 

And hey, perhaps one of these days, I might just start tweeting myself.

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Tyler Horner is in the Spring class.