Shaq, Diddy, Tony Hawk and Al Gore do it. So do Pete Carroll and your one weird uncle. It seems like just about everyone is “tweeting” these days.
And recently, even the University’s Athletic Department and head football coach Rich Rodriguez have joined in on the micro-blogging craze.
In an effort to make programs more accessible to fans, the department announced yesterday the creation of eight new “Twitters.” The new micro-blogs for eight varsity sports will accompany five others that have already been trying it out for the last few months.
Twitter.com is an online service through which users can send and receive “tweets” — text-based updates limited to 140 characters.
In time, the Athletic Department plans on having Twitter pages for all 25 varsity sports.
Athletic Director Bill Martin wrote in a press release that the move was an effort to embrace the latest in technology.
“This is a communication instrument that can speak directly to our fans,” he wrote. “As a department, we need to be cognizant of social media communication and this will be our first official move in that direction.”
As part of the push, Rodriguez started his own Twitter page. Bruce Madej, associate athletic director for communications, insists that while Rodriguez was “getting some help to start,” the coach is now doing “90 percent of it” on his own with his Blackberry.
Madej said the Twitter pages will help fans better follow their favorite sports.
“It’s an easy, efficient way to keep a segmented part of your fan base following the sport that they want to follow,” he said.
Those with Twitter accounts can sign up as a “follower” of a sport, to receive live updates on a computer, cell phone or PDA.
“The idea is simply to help individuals follow the Michigan sport of their choice in an ever-changing, new-media world,” Madej said. “Social networking is the new-media world.”
The Twitter pages will feature casual updates about things like scheduling changes. For example, a tweet on the rowing team’s page on Friday read “Too windy to race in Indiana. We are delayed until tomorrow. Racing will begin at 9 a.m. There will still be afternoon racing as well.”
Pieces of in-game action will be tweeted too. On Sunday, an update from the baseball Twitter read, “Wolverines score twice in the fourth … we are tied again, 4-4.”
Matt Trevor, the Athletic Department assistant director of media relations, started tweeting for the ice hockey and women’s rowing teams in February. He said he has enjoyed it so far.
He added that Twitter’s biggest advantage is the 140-character limit and the brevity it forces.
“It just fills in some of the gaps between writing a full press release and getting out some interesting information,” he said.