Comment - Why Twitter remains a powerhouse for sporting debate and who you should be following
The imminent demise of Twitter has been widely reported over the last couple of years, yet the platform has retained its place as the most potent hub for social media sporting debate.
With professional sports stars past and present engaging in heated discussions with high profile journalists and fans, a lively Twitter time line has become an essential companion if you are indulging in a day of sporting drama.
Twitter chatter will flow during this week's US Masters and the heavy hitters will be back at their tweeting best this weekend as another round of Premier League action captures the imagination.
Meanwhile, over in the White House, the guy who now goes by the name of President Trump will be doing his bit to boost/destroy the brand with his daily tweets that have raised the profile of Twitter in spectacular fashion over the last couple of years.
So is Twitter about to die? Probably not.
As so many media professionals have ploughed hours of their time into cultivating their social media audience and TV and radio continues to promote Twitter names as part of their coverage, journalists and their employers are eager for it to maintain its relevance.
Twitter is likely to evolve rather than disappear from our lives over the course of the next decade and if you use it in the right way, it can be a wonderful source of information and entertainment.
A buy-out from one of its social media rivals has been rumoured, with falling its falling stock price suggesting changes will be made sooner rather than later and yet it remains a powerful source of information and interaction for around 320 million active users across the globe.
The release of the annual Tweet Index survey compiled by respected PR firm Murray Consultants revealing the top 100 most influential Twitter accounts in Ireland offered a snapshot into the accounts your should be following and, more significantly, the impact they can have.
My own surprisingly lofty position in the Murray Tweet Index charts for 2016 was greeted with derision by some on Twitter, yet this survey was not based on the simple process of evaluating who has built up the most followers on a service that is still affected by accounts boosted by followers that have been purchased rather than earned.
As the numerous fake transfer accounts on Twitter confirm, Twitter users should be judged on their overall package and if you can get the right blend of follower numbers, content and credibility, success can flow.
Advertisers have estimated that Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo generated around $500m for Nike in 2016, with his 260 million followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram eager to buy anything the Portuguese boy wonder urges them to buy on his social media channels.
While journalists are fishing for much smaller rewards when they dip their toe into Twitter waters, a potent account capable of delivering thousands of web hits daily and bolstering the profile of tweeter provides suitable reward for the hours of effort that goes into building a following.
It remains to be seen whether Twitter can hold its own amid an increasingly crowded social media landscape, but soccer fans who are not already part of the tweeting madness should jump on board before it is too late.
Here are some of the best sporting Twitter accounts your should be following:
John Aldridge (@Realaldo474)
The Ireland and Liverpool goal scoring great serves up some witty and occasionally confrontational tweets, with his huge following lapping up his brand of biased scouse humour.
Des Cahill (@sportsdes)
The RTE broadcaster has been hitting a new audience in recent weeks in his appearance on Dancing With The Stars, but he remains a sports fanatic at heart.
Ken Early (@kenearlys)
The Second Captain’s podcast king and Irish Times journalist is always forthright and punchy in his Twitter comments.
Daniel McDonnell (@McDonnellDan)
The Irish Independent soccer writer is always first with the news from the League of Ireland and has his finger on the pulse with the Ireland international team.
Hugh Cahill (@hughcahill7)
The affable RTE broadcaster mixes his comical sporting views with some video clips and images that brighten anyone's day. All you can expect from a Twitter account.
Alan Cawley (@alancaw)
The former League of Ireland star has built up a strong Twitter following as he eagerly promotes the domestic game. The concern may be that he has more passion for the game that some of the top decision makers in Irish soccer.
Paul McGrath (@Paulmcgrath5)
The Ireland legend has embraced Twitter and posts messages that have stirred plenty of debates. He also managed to upset Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce earlier this year with a tweet, but that issue has now been resolved.
Ger Gilroy (@gergilroy)
Newstalk’s Off The Ball maestro has mastered the art of the informative and comical on Twitter, as he mixes sports, politics and personal views on the big talking points of the day.