Monday, September 17, 2012

NHL Who?

I'm a big hockey fan and I have been for as long as I can remember. Yes, I cried when my parents told me I was playing hockey that one fateful September day back in 1982, but I loved the game - I just didn't want to play it. Now, almost exactly 30 years later I can honestly say that I still really love hockey - its the people that run the teams and don the uniforms that bring tears to my eyes. Okay, it's not so much tears as it is pure unadulterated rage and loathing... but enough about me. If there's one thing this latest NHL work stoppage has shown me is that it's not about me. Or you. Or anyone else that makes NHL hockey possible for that matter.

It's about players who think they're bigger than the game - entitled to more than half the daily take simply because they worked up a sweat, and it's about owners who think that they can mismanage their lemonade stand and still be entitled to profit. Make no mistake though, it's definitely not about the paying customer. They'll get their watered down, over priced, sour beverage - and they'll love every drop and come back for more. 

We only have ourselves to blame.

NHL hockey is the only professional league in the world to have lost an entire season due to a work stoppage, and do you know what happened when they came back? Seven years of record record revenues. Now we're on the verge of another collapse, for pretty much the exact same reasons that caused the last stoppage and fans are taking sides. Seriously? We are actually divided on who is to blame? Even Bob McKenzie, who has probably the greatest hockey mind the business has ever seen, won't pick a side on this one.

Fool me once, shame on you...

There should only be one side that matters in all of this: the one that pays the bills. In case you didn't catch on, it's our side. Us. The fans. The only way the spoiled elite and the out-of-touch beyond wealthy will ever understand is if we hit them where it hurts he most:

  • For the players you go after their ego, and the tactic is simple:
    You stop watching!
    Adore and revere someone else. Pay no attention to the spoiled brat in the corner, he'll find someone else to carry his books to class.

  • For the owners you go after their pocketbooks, and the tactic is simple:
    You stop paying!
    You give someone else your hard earned dollar. Pay no dividends to the greedy, fiscally irresponsible jerks in the ivory tower, they'll move on and try to find another sucker to con.
A very reasonable and wise man by the name of Neil Hedley wrote an article a couple days ago in a less scathing and vitriolic tone, but the message was essentially the same. Unless enough people say it, and enough people commit to it, we'll just be right back here again eight years from now and another eight years from then. 

Fool me twice, shame on me.

So it's time for hockey fans to step up and do something worthwhile. Sell out the junior rink around the corner, up the road, or in the next town over. Simply because you can, head out to a high school or college game - and buy a giant foam finger. Read a damn book (I recommend Neil's) or get behind another sport (Lyndon Johnson has one that seems to be catching on).

Just do something, anything, that keeps the NHL and its players from fooling you again.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Making a List...

If you're like me you're on Twitter. If you're one of the few dozen million Twitter users following more than a few dozen people you may have noticed your Twitter feed fills up pretty quickly. One thing I have discovered is that Twitter is all about interactions. It's not about how many people follow you, it's about who you follow, and most importantly the people with whom you choose to engage.

Twitter = Engagement.

How some people following thousands and thousands of accounts can keep up and actually engage is beyond me. I love seeing celebs or "experts" following 50,000 people. There's absolutely no way that's practical for anything and I suspect that those accounts are at best a person (or team of people) just scanning the @ mentions for something worth replying to or at worst just self promoting pseudo spam churning out links or 140 character insight in a robotic "look at me!" sort of way.

As someone who is reasonably compulsive about keeping things in order, as soon as I started following more than a couple hundred people I knew I needed a system. Maybe you don't need a system, maybe you have one of your own, but in order for me to maximize my Twitter interactions and engage as effectively as I can I have come up with something that plays out like this:

First things first - I almost always use the Twitter app for my iPhone when I'm mobile and just want to check something quickly (mentions, direct messages, trends, searches, etc...). At home, I'm almost always on my laptop and I'm using Hootsuite (free). I have a system for how and what I tweet as well, but that's a separate post altogether, for now we'll focus on organizing the 486 people I'm following.

Lists.

One thing Twitter has done that's a great idea is lists. Their implementation of lists is clumsy and getting at them from the web or iPhone app takes too many clicks but fortunately there are other apps out there that help with this. Now on to the system...

It's really quite simple. Everyone I follow goes into a list. Heck, even if I don't want to follow someone I can add them into a list (they won't clog up my main feed and they'll still show up when I look at my list). One follow, one list. How many lists do I have? Good question. I have 13, and here they are (along with what each one is):

  1. Friends (self explanatory)
  2. Tweeps (these people interact with me on Twitter most often)
  3. Tweeple (I like what these people have to say)
  4. Community (people in my community or other local communities)
  5. Writing (people who write)
  6. Personalities (famous people, celebs, and personas)
  7. Sports (athletes and sports journalists)
  8. News (traffic, weather, headlines)
  9. Music (musicians, music journalists)
  10. Visual Arts (photography, painting, other forms of visual art)
  11. Geek Stuff (social media "experts", science, geeks and nerds)
  12. Businesses (twitter accounts for businesses I support/recommend)
  13. Causes (charitable organizations I support or generally agree with)
Now, this is where Hootsuite comes in really handy. I can display dozens of tabs at once and up to 4 streams on a single tab. A stream can be anything I want, including searches, hashtags, and lists. I order my lists in terms of how much I want to see those tweets and put them on tabs, and voila!

Yes, it means I'm effectively putting the people I follow on Twitter into a hierarchy, but that's just the way it is. Sometimes I'm not in the mood to listen to what my writer friends are up to. Many times I'm not concerned with what a celebrity is doing. Quite often I want to know what's going on with my friends and in my community. Here's how my tabs are broken down:

  • Tab 0 - mentions, direct messages, my re-tweeted (yes, I'm narcissistic so that's why it's first)
  • Tab 1 - friends, tweeps, tweeple, community
  • Tab 2 - writing, personalities, sports, news
  • Tab 3 - music, visual arts, geek stuff
  • Tab 4 - businesses, causes
  • Tab 5 - hashtags (trends and topics I like to follow)
Here's what it looks like on my laptop and on my phone (click to enlarge):



But what about maintenance? Another good question. There are a bunch of non-Twitter apps and websites that will help you manage your lists but the one I like to use is found at http://tweetbe.at. It's free and does a pretty good job of managing lists, list members, and other twitter followers/following. The only downside is it will only load 500 of the people you're following on any given screen. Once a month or so I go through my followers/following and start to clean things up. I get rid of the spam-bots and unfollow people and shuffle the list participants based on recent interactions.

So there you have it. My Twitter system in 1000 words or less. I'd be interested in knowing what you're doing to manage your Twitter environment. Use the comments below to share or post links to other systems that work.