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Do we need a Twitter just for jocks?

Evan Dashevsky | April 4, 2013
SportsYapper is a Twitter-like conversation service just for sports fans. Is there room for specifically curated conversation apps?

Should jocks have a Twitter just for them? A place for true sport enthusiasts to express their opinions about their favorite athletes without all that Belieber and #YouMessedUpWhen nonsense mucking up the convo. Sportsyapper is betting that they do.

Conversation apps like Sportsyapper, GetGlue, and Zeebox are trying to make their mark as curated Twitter-like platforms built around specific topics (sports in the first case, television in the latter two). While these up-and-comers have yet to scrape together anything near Twitter's influence, there is potential in their business models because of something missing in Twitter's: Namely the platform is still built around the technology from the middle of the previous decade.

Twitter prefers chaos

Live-tweeting a big event can be chaotic. It's a fire hose of thought sneezes operating under global mob rule. Twitter has shied away from curating conversations, instead encouraging tweets to arise organically around hashtags or organized by brands. The result can be somewhat sloppy--when live-tweeting the Academy Awards, should you use #Oscars, #TheOscars, #AcademyAwards?

Twitter's laissez faire attitude towards curating content has always felt like a missed opportunity for a company that has struggled to transform their outsized influence into tangible income: would it not be much easier to target ads toward virtual rooms where people are discussing a specific topic? One for those tweeting about the Knicks versus Celtics, one for the New Girl season finale, and one for the latest edition of Meet The Press?

In the smartphone age, this seems like a no-brainer. Instead, we use #StrangeGrammaticalConventions to organize conversations around different events, when our phones could easily parse conversations via an app.

Why hasn't Twitter simply created these virtual cloisters and done away with these hashtags which eat into valuable real estate within the 140-character limit (itself kind of a vestige)? The answer is that Twitter is still expanding to a global mobile audience, the majority of whom don't have smart phones, and to whom hashtag discussions are still essential.

Many of these new and potential tweeters are using similar mobile technology to that used by the early adaptors who helped Twitter take off as a Web-SMS hybrid back in the mid-aughts. So, the company has reason to keep the platform consistent.

Which then leads an opening for a new kind of conversation.

Exploring jock Twitter

While it is in Twitter's interest to be compatible to "dumb" phones, other curated platforms have the benefit of utilizing smartphones to cultivate the conversation... smartly.

Sportsyapper, for example, allows users to enter a room with other likeminded fans. After following a series of pull-down menus (which sport? which team? which game?), users find a "room" with other fans watching the same game.


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