#Revs Delusions Of Twitter Grandeur

When I sit down to write a blog post that I suspect will annoy most of my faithful readers, there is always this brief moment of pause, where I ask myself “why bother?”

I pick topics somewhat randomly as it is, so I could simply “pass” on audience-angering topics. Heck, I already pick to write about things as they interest me seemingly on a whim and have never felt obligated to cover each and every result, player rumor or team announcement.

I do, however, tend to be sucked into the twittersphere of touchy subjects, but sometimes one hundred and forty characters just isn’t enough. And since my somewhat tongue in cheek campaign to promote the Twitter hashtag #NErevs instead of the corrupted #REVS for following New England Revolution news is already out there in 140 character sound-bites, I figured I would explain.

And frankly, it’s not about #NErevs but about why I think change is needed the why.

First, I commend the energy and passion of the #defendthehashtag crowd. They feel that we were here first, and that #Revs is “ours” for following the Revolution, and that the UK partiers that tweet it up as they get sloshed are treading on “our” turf.

Good on you for the passion. But, recovering #Revs? Not likely. I don’t know if the Revolution has ever considered an official switch, but I would hope they give it some thought, and here’s why.

Twitter hashtags are used for a few basic reasons:

  • Following / Tracking
  • Promoting
  • Sharing
  • Identifying / Locating
  • Being Silly / Ironic

For A) and B) there are logical, helpful reasons to leverage hashtags. You cannot know everyone who plans to say something interesting about a given topic, to hashtags give an organizing principle to what might be difficult to gather, noisy Twitter traffic.

I have leveraged #Revs (among others) for both tracking (getting team news) and promotion (of the blog and of my random musings) as do most of the New England based users.

The team also leverages the #Revs hashtag for promotion and (one can hope) tracking fan sentiment – though I cannot speak with any certainly if/how seriously they track sentiment at this point.

Sharing closely follows promoting and tracking, since promotion is a very targeted type of sharing. And if nobody shared, why would you follow? The idea is that you have something you think like-minded people might want to know. If I see a player at Walmart on crutches that we didn’t know was hurt, you #Revs follower, might be interested.

People also leverage hashtags (#Revs or otherwise) to be identified with something, or as a simple “check-in.” New England’s #Revs users do this when they want to be associated with their team – a use which will hopefully be in more demand in 2012 than it was in 2011. Sometimes it could simply suggest what game you are at – if it were to accompany a picture of a nice green carpet with white lines, for example.

The current noise that invades the #Revs feed on Twitter, however comes from people who are neither tracking or promoting anything. While they are, in fact, sharing information – it is not in the traditional sense of sharing with like-minded individuals they do not know. I actually wonder if any of the UK-based #Revs users even follow the hashtag. Actually, I do not really wonder, I think we know they do not.

And herein lies the problem when typically logical folks think they can muscle #Revs back from the dark side.

The UK #Revs tweets are signals about either their location or their intent. It’s where they’re going. Where they are. Where they will be. They are associating with a bar, a plan, a state of being. But, that’s not really news, and not really worth following. If your friend tells you they are “headed to #Revs” – that’s all you really care about.

The British #Revs users are almost representing WHAT they are doing (or will or have)… drinking and partying. And, for better or worse, there’s nothing wrong about it. It’s certainly an unnecessary use of a hashtag, but you cannot break rules that don’t exist.

The New England #Revs users are living in a world where promoting, following and sharing are the unwritten rules ascribed to #Revs. Logical, sensible rules, indeed.

And, if everyone agreed (and went to mandatory Twitter training/indoctrination) a “defend the hashtag” twitter argument would make sense. Other users (in this fictitious, yet logical world) who were also intent on following or promoting the Revolution bar chain would also find all this annoying North American soccer talk to be very much against their goals as well.

But neither of those goals exist in “Old England” regarding #Revs.

If the Revolution bar chain had decided to actively leverage the #Revs tag, that would be promoting. Have you ever seen that?

If the partiers where actively trying to promote the Revolution bar chain to those who are not already aware of it, that would be promoting. I’ve not really seen that. It seems to me that a certain crowd is talking to themselves. Loudly.

Don’t buy the argument? Think about this, when is the last time you saw an “Old England” #Revs users retweet or quote something? I cannot remember one such share. It’s because all they are doing is saying in four characters: tonight I will go out, get drunk and probably test the line between flirty and slutty while on camera. (A silver lining to some young, male Revolution fans, no doubt.)

So you can scream #Revs and #DefendTheHashtag all you want, but don’t think you are about to out yell a crowd that isn’t listening to you.

Personally, I do not believe ripping off the band-aid of a too-generic hashtag (#Revs) to something a bit more specific (#NErevs, or whatever gets people on board) is really that bad an offense. Ask #Crew96…

But I do wonder, if the rebellion against #Revs twitter clutter is coming from a proud fanbase that is defending their Twitter-God given right to four characters, or if it is the last stand of a retreating fanbase who simply cannot tolerate one last offense?

If it’s the latter, it’s time to remember a phrase my parents (sometimes confusingly) used to use with me when I was being a petulant child. “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”

Because Twitter is a popular, easily accessible communications platform and this ridiculous battle to save a character or two is now playing out in the public domain and adds to the stigma of a team that can do no right.

Because when casual fans probably are listening, or trying to, they hear 1) Revolution commentary, 2) UK bar hopping and 3) complaining about UK bar hoppers. (I guess one out of three aint bad, eh?)

So it’s time to ask if all this is helping further the goals you the loyal, local #Revs followers have to promote the Revolution, OUR Revolution on twitter.

While you contemplate that, there was one other kind of hashtag uses I mentioned. The silly or ironic use. You know, the “I’m wittier than you” kind. The punchline kind.

I’ll expect to see some… #SoccerSoapBoxSurrender, #FourCharactersOrDeath or #YouCanTakeMyLifeButYouCannotTakeMyHashtag.

Or, you can use #NERevs. Or #Revs96. Or #Revos. Or something.

Whatever works.

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4 thoughts on “#Revs Delusions Of Twitter Grandeur

  1. All very well-put. The Cardiff Tweeters aren’t going to stop because they don’t care and – like you said – they don’t even check the feed anyway.

    I just don’t want #NERevs – it’s boring, and if there’s a switch, the new tag should have personality. I want something interesting. I toyed with #NETID but I read that like the word “fetid” which is gross. #Revs96 wouldn’t be the worst. Would remind non-MLS friends that this isn’t a young league. Being the only one of my closer friends who follows soccer (especially MLS), that’s certainly something I wouldn’t mind.

  2. As you alluded, we had this debate about this time last year about #theCrew hastag. Like #Revs, it generated very interesting posts completely unrelated to the Columbus Crew. You are right on all counts. Besides, the Crew fan in me can suggest plenty of alternatives (e.g. #NotPats, #KraftCheesers, #NDerAchieve, etc.)

  3. I’m with you in theory, but I just can’t do it. Adding two more letters shrinks my tweets from 135 characters to 133 characters, and that is not enough. J/k I honestly don’t care about the Cardiff #Revs tweets, they humor me, and when I do post a #DefendTheHashtag tweet I’m generally being ironic. In theory, you are dead on. We should be bigger and move on. It’s a fruitless battle that cannot be won in the twittosphere, but I for one will not change unless -as you stated- the team decides to start promoting #NERevs or #NER (which would save me 1 character) as their “official” hashtag.

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