Despite its limit of 140 characters per post, Twitter has become an important and irreplaceable tool in the lives of many. It allows people all around the world to interact and stay up to date with family, friends, the news, brands, and even sports. The level of interaction between fans of sports teams on Twitter is at an all-time high.
So, with the Panthers holding their 2nd-annual social media meetup tonight, we thought there would be no better time than now to find out what affect the social-networking site has had on people and how it has changed what it means to be a fan.
I scoffed at the idea of social media before I stumbled upon Twitter. I was constantly urged to set up accounts for existing social media sites. “Poke what”? I would ask. “Who is Tom again”? My friends would tell me “tell people what you had for dinner”. “Decorate your space” was another common request. None of this interested me. Twitter, however, was different. It was simple and it was exciting to have some complete stranger follow me after favoriting something that I wrote. It was the ultimate ego boost but I grew tired of twitter rather quickly. Then something incredible happened…I found some twitter users tweeting about of my favorite hockey team, the Florida Panthers.
Before Twitter I would watch the game, scream at the refs, cringe during shootouts, and smile after a Panthers win. More often than not, I did these things alone. Before twitter, I would go to the games and go home. I was not really apart of anything. Twitter changed all of that. I began tweeting with others during away games. As the game progressed so too did the tweets. Jokes would fly during Delvecchios commercials and most everyone would poke fun at Denis Potvin and his mispronunciation of players names. This made twitter fun and in turn made watching the games more fun. Because of twitter I have met many amazing people, had the courage to wear a banana suit in public, and even learned how to play hockey. I can’t even remember what it was like to watch a game without twitter and honestly I don’t want to.
When I first discovered Twitter and created an account, I wasn’t sure of its purpose. I didn’t know anyone else who had an account and I wasn’t sure what to do so I left and didn’t return until around the time of the 2013 NHL Draft. It was the first draft where I had really learned about the top prospects and had seen them play, so I was super excited to see who the Panthers would get with the 2nd pick. I believe my first three retweets were of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, and Seth Jones saying how excited they were to be drafted.
Then, on a day that I don’t remember, I found out that beat writers existed and thought it was really cool how they were tweeting trades before they were officially announced, lineups before the game, quotes from pre- and post-game, and other stuff about the Panthers that I had never seen before Twitter. Looking back, I’m honestly not sure how I got through life and Panthers games in general without Twitter. Twitter really brings the average fan closer to the team…you become more involved by voicing your excitement, displeasures, opinions, etc, with fellow fans of the team…it’s really neat. The fan is able to stay more up-to-date on their team; you don’t have to wait for someone to type up a whole entire article about a trade, roster move, or a game…you can just read about it right on Twitter in bite-sized posts. You’re also able to see what other people think about the things that happen and have discussions; there are so many possibilities.
Twitter is also big from the perspective of someone reporting on the team like we do here with Cats on the Prowl. Before we started COTP, I always wanted to know everything I could about the Panthers’ prospects and could never find anything. I also know that lots of other people love to know what’s coming in the system and how these young guys are performing. Twitter allows us to deliver the information that some people would likely never find out otherwise in a quick manner, and we’re able to attach video clips so it’s more than “John Doe scored a goal!”. It’s cool to be able to educate other fans and present them stuff they may not have known already and that also leads to fans that are more informed and immersed in their team. The Panthers’ social media event, PanthersPalooza, allows people to put faces to the names they see on Twitter and that’s pretty cool too. It’s a lot of fun to bring the game and all of the behind-the-scenes stuff to the fans so they can love the Panthers even more.
For me, Twitter pulls back the curtains and allows you to see what’s behind and around the game. It makes it so that you’re not just driving to the game and driving home. You’re involved with the team before, during, and after that game as well as during the days off and off-season / pre-season. It’s really immersive and tons of fun.
Steve Goldstein, Panthers TV Play-By-Play Broadcaster, @goldieonice:
I think Twitter is a great source of information, entertainment and the ability to connect with each other. I enjoy the interaction with fans, and the opportunity to share my thoughts and some information that maybe people wouldn’t normally be able to access as easily. I think it is helped build loyalty and the relationship between teams and fans. For example, having Doug Cifu, the Panthers’ owner, on Twitter interacting is great. For our franchise in particular, we are trying to grow the Panthers brand and hockey in South Florida. Twitter is an extremely useful tool to do both of those things.
When the team wins big games like the 1-0 game against Tampa, everyone is excited after the game. Twitter is a great place where everyone can go and see what others are saying and share their thoughts, videos and pictures…whether it was at the game or on TV.
Doug Cifu, Panthers Vice Chairman, Partner and Alternate Governor, @dougielarge:
Twitter is a great medium for me to hear comments – positive and negative – about the team, customer service, building, etc, so that I can get a feel for how we are doing. I read just about everything sent my way.
Connor Jordan, @ConnorJordan721:
Twitter has drastically changed my experience as a hockey fan. Before this year, I really never used Twitter. I have had an account since 2011, but had never been that active. That changed in 2014. I got back on Twitter and followed a bunch of Florida Panthers-based accounts. That was the beginning of a wonderful, sometimes frustrating relationship.
As a fan, Twitter is wonderful. Living in Tallahassee makes it pretty difficult for me to get to Panthers games. Twitter allows me to be at the game without actually being at the game. Other Panthers fans who are at the game provide updates from the game in such a way that makes me feel like I’m actually there. Before Twitter, I would just follow the box-score on NHL.com, or something like that. Now, I have dozens of people who are passionate fans updating me from the game. Twitter allows me to experience things that I never would have been able to had I not joined. Communicating with the team and its owners? That doesn’t happen on other Social Media sites.
I am also grateful for Twitter from another perspective that regular fans might not be aware of. From a scouting point-of-view, Twitter is basically a Godsend. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of scouts, and a lot of them probably don’t agree with me. PERSONALLY, I love Twitter as a scout. There are a lot of scouts on Twitter talking about which players they like. Seeing that gives me an opportunity to add a player to my list of players-to-watch that might not have been there before. It basically just enhances my experience as a scout, which is great, because sometimes, I have no idea what game to watch on any given day. Then I’ll see another scout tweet about a game they’re watching, and I’ll go watch that game.
Fan or otherwise, Twitter enhances your experience. It has definitely enhanced my experience as a fan, and also as a scout. Doug Cifu has given us Panthers fans a level of interaction with the franchise that I don’t think we’ve ever seen before. Twitter has bolstered fan interactions with their given franchise so much, that it’s a necessity for a franchise to have a Twitter presence nowadays, in order to interact with their fans.
Twitter has made my experience as a fan an amazing one, and I’m not sure what I would do without it. I can deal with the trolls and angry Canadian journalists if it means I get to interact with the other amazing Panthers fans and franchise, and everyone else on Twitter who helps me enjoy hockey as much as I do.
Amanda Weinstein, @aweins325:
I have had season tickets to Panthers games since I was five years old and I have been a huge fan ever since. My passion for hockey was and is still deep, but it wasn’t until I created a Twitter account that I was able to share that passion with other likeminded people. I created the Twitter account as part of my school’s personal branding course and didn’t plan on using it for any purpose other than this class. However, I found the fact that there were other people who enjoyed hockey just as much as I did extremely intriguing. So, I decided to become more involved in Twitter and I have never looked back since. Something I have thought about a lotus the hockey fans I see walking around the arena every game. When I first started coming to games, I was enthralled by the sea of red jerseys I saw (granted, at the time, it may have been more like a river due to the team’s abysmal record). Now, I don’t really view the fans as a sea of red jerseys. Instead, I view them as friends, colleagues, and blogmates.
As a naturally quiet individual, I found it difficult to share my ideas about hockey in the past. Twitter allowed me to be able to do this. Without Twitter, I would never have started Cats on the Prowl with Brett and I would not have met my wonderful fellow blogmates either, as well as so many of you who may be reading this that I have come to admire so much. Twitter has allowed me to make life long connections. I realized that Twitter, and the Cats on the Prowl account in general, not only made me more confident in my social image, but it also made me more confident as a person. I have found myself more comfortable speaking in front of others and even just in casual conversation.
I know all of this may sound cliche but Twitter allowed me to hone my passion for hockey into a more focused field and it helped me to find my people. I have learned more about hockey from the people that I have met on Twitter than from anyone else. I have been able to find out information that I may not have thought of before and I have also been able to receive feedback on the pieces that I have written. Twitter is the best way for me to advertise Cats on the Prowl, a writing outlet that means the world to me. I am so thankful for all of the fantastic things I have experienced through Twitter.
“Bobblehead Dale Tallon,” @turbuL3NT2:
As I renew my Season Seats for the 23rd year, I reflect back on the evolution of being a Florida Panthers fan.
During the “good old days”, you went to the games at the arena and became part of the crowd. You participated in the cheers and boos, gave high fives to the other fans sitting around you, and got to know a few of the regulars in your section. Once the game ended, you exited the front doors and made the long drive home. If you were lucky, the newspapers might have a small paragraph covering the team, buried somewhere in the sports section or maybe catch a sound bite during the local newscast. Your discussions of the team and the season may have been shared with that one friend who also followed the team or family members who were subjected to your rants about what the team was doing right or wrong. In a nutshell, being a Florida Panther fan in the past was an activity that felt very solitary.
With the arrival of Twitter and other social media platforms, the fan experience has reached a new high. In terms of involvement with other fans, it doesn’t matter if you are in the seats at the arena or on your couch at home. Whether the team scores, the refs make a terrible call, or you want to breakdown the gameplay, you are interacting with others that share your passion for Panthers’ hockey. The friendships have grown from the guy that occasionally sits next to you to fans in other states, countries, or wherever @DougieLarge happens to be at the moment. Walking around the concourse in seasons past, you might have just been another face in the crowd. Now, it has truly become a social event, meeting people that you may have shared a tweet with, shaking hands with hundreds of new friends, and being recognized as a member of the Panthers Family.
You can follow Cats on the Prowl on Twitter for all of the latest news, rumors, game updates, prospect happenings, and more by clicking here, and you can click the links above to follow the listed writer of each section.