A new language is invading Baton Rouge. There’s no Rosetta Stone for it—whether that means a Ptolemaic carving or a software program. It has no translations, and it’s not even communicated verbally. It concerns a once-whispered subculture, an undercurrent of local commentary, creativity and, at times, consternation. And it is growing louder every day.
This new language uses nonverbal symbols like @, # and RT. It forces brevity upon those who choose to speak it. At 140 characters, tweet speak is commanding locals’ fingertip-fueled conversations.
Twitter’s use of hashtags linking like content and the ability to follow whomever you wish paves the way for establishing connections. It’s constantly updating, so when you visit your feed, it’s never quite the same as when you left it—unless you’re like Kanye West and have a grand “Following” count of one.
The 7-year-old social network has certainly been a game-changer worldwide. Twitter has altered how we receive our news, how we approach customer service and even how we find our food. Baton Rouge’s expanding food truck scene wouldn’t be what it is now without Twitter; the trucks let us know where we can find them via tweets.
But what exactly is it that makes this network, with its little blue bird icon, so popular? Is it the character limit? The always-fresh timeline? The cuteness factor of the now-iconic and globally recognizable logo?
The answers vary so widely, depending on whom you ask, it seems that no one really knows what makes Twitter so popular.
Stafford Kendall, co-founder and principal of the communications firm Covalent Logic, says it’s all about the relationships. Through its hashtags, Twitter helps its users form new relationships based on mutual topics of interest, she says.
For example, the @BRFoodies Twitter account that now has more than 1,000 followers was born out of a desire to get together to watch and chat about Bravo’s hit culinary series Top Chef.
What it turned into was a popular feed run by a group of new friends who love eating, drinking and cooking. The cuisine-centric account has become so popular because lots of other Baton Rougeans love those things, too.
If you ask Orhan McMillan, founder and managing partner of the graphic design and web development firm dezinsINTERACTIVE, he’ll tell you Twitter’s popularity stems from its efficiency.
Twitter’s clean, text-only interface allows for quick scanning and scrolling through content, as opposed to Facebook’s News Feed full of multimedia posts, McMillan says. Additionally, he says, the strict character limit forces even the wordiest communicators to self-edit and get those messages out as clearly and quickly as possible.
Though Twitter is often celebrated for this streamlined simplicity, McMillan thinks it may be the most confusing of popular social media sites.
“It has so many diffferent things it can be used for,” he says. “It can be a text message, a conversation, and then there’s the hashtag, and you can create a public-exclusive conversation for a person who uses the hashtag.”
Sure, Twitter is a blossoming and booming new technology, but Kendall doesn’t think we should call it—or social media in general—”revolutionary” quite so fast. To her, these are examples of our communications habits coming full circle.
“I see it as a return to communication we had before this came along, which is word-of-mouth,” Kendall says. “Think about the way you use word-of-mouth; what you trust is what your friends say. Social media is the fulfillment of that. Unlike the telephone game, social media messages can be literally copied and pasted and shared and moved.”
While the verdict is still out on what exactly it means to be “good at Twitter,” users know a resourceful or entertaining feed when they see one. 225 has compiled a list of Baton Rougeans with Twitter accounts worth following. Our Twitter 25, complete with profile photos and example tweets from each, begins below.
Style blogger and graphic designer Krystal Bennett knows what looks good. Follow her, and you will, too.
— Krystal Bennett (@KrystalBennett) April 17, 2013
As a sports information director for LSU, Michael Bonnette is a go-to guy for Tiger sports news. Bonnette also uses his Twitter account to share funny tidbits about being a dad.
Never dull w Les Miles. After spring game,reporter used phone to tape press conf. Phone rang,Les answered & had convo w caller during PC
— Michael Bonnette (@LSUBonnette) April 20, 2013
Whitney Breaux is a social media expert who bleeds purple and gold. She’s a fun follow for quips about LSU sports and life in the Capital City.
The only day of the year you are happy your team was awful the year before … #draftDay
— Whitney Breaux (@wbreaux) April 26, 2013
Joshua Burton’s Twitter account is more than just a foodie’s ravings and a chef’s rants. His frequently updated feed is full of light-hearted, fun tweets that are sure to make you laugh and drool simultaneously.
Gas stations still do serve some of the best home cooked food.
— Joshua Burton (@JoshGrillsItAll) April 29, 2013
Elizabeth Clausen’s feed is a stream of both serious and lighthearted musings from a college student and budding writer.
If someone tells you, “You have such great taste in music,” what they’re really saying is, “I have such great taste in music.”
— Liz Whatsherface (@LizClausen) April 28, 2013
As evidenced by his handle, Taylor Daigrepont seeks to clean up Baton Rouge—both our litter problem and a variety of other local issues.
@thecityofbr how is Florida Blvd repaving still not finished?! I thought it was taking too long 3 mos ago, unacceptable!
— Taylor Daigrepont (@YouAreFilthyBTR) April 6, 2013
Brenton Day’s Twitter feed is a compendium of 140-character messages on his two seemingly disjointed loves: running and beer.
— The Ale Runner (@TheAleRunner) April 26, 2013
This account is all about LSU athletics, but it won’t clog your feed with game updates. As the publications director for LSU Publications, Feirman offers a unique perspective on the college sports world. He often uses Instagram photos to show rather than tell what’s going on.
— Jason Feirman (@jfeirman) December 7, 2012
Freeman isn’t just an LSU mass communication professor. He’s also a local school board member with a feed as multi-faceted as he is, with tweets ranging from Arrested Development quotes to news and local commentary. We asked Freeman to give us the names of his Twitter mentors: “@mat_johnson and @JennyJohnsonHi5 are two. They write hilarious stuff, but don’t write just to fill the Twitterverse. They’re the cool kids of Twitter.”
New question on final RT @ohnewsroom: Reporter: “If I make an audible fart at a council meeting, does that mean my fart is on the record?”
— Craig Freeman (@mc_prof) April 22, 2013
Famous on Tumblr—his blog has more than 80,000 followers—LSU art history student Andrew Harlow tweets beautiful photographs, camera phone pictures, random musings and most importantly, thoughts about his cat.
email newsletters are actually kinda fun. they’re almost retro
— Andrew Harlow (@notagaindrew) April 29, 2013
Interested in Baton Rouge’s bands? Ben Herrington plays in most of them. Follow this multi-instrumentalist for an inside look at the local music scene.
@twinkillers Yes he is! I love it when he works 5 ft from me, because that means he’s playing drums! I’m jealous of your frequent proximity!
— Ben Herrington (@MusicEverWhere) March 21, 2013
Jesse Hoggard is not only a voice of the Louisiana Tech Park, but an avid foodie as well. Follow him for tech news and food photos.
Jazz Fest and by that I mean couchon de lait poboy and crawfish beignets!!
— Jesse Hoggard (@jthogg) April 26, 2013
To make it short and sweet, Rivers Hughey is a funny lady. This Delightfully Southern blogger’s frequently updated feed is filled with short bursts of wit and Seinfeld-worthy observations.
I’m sorry for what I said when I was real hungry.
— Rivers Hughey (@RivsHughey) April 30, 2013
State Representative Ted James is an active Twitter user and is on top of the latest news and politics. Follow him for a first-hand look at the Legislature’s inner workings—and plenty of unfiltered opinions.
@barackobussa I’m playing in a flag football game with the LA Legislators. I suggest you place your bets with my team. Lol
— Rep. Ted James(@EdwardTedJames) April 21, 2013
Baton Rouge Area Chamber CEO Adam Knapp is all about economic growth and development. Follow him for links about tech, economics and quirky news.
Adulterated ice cream… The legal conundrum of the century.”AG: Wine ice cream illegal in La”theadvertiser.com/article/201304…
— Adam Knapp (@knappad) April 20, 2013
With more than 18,000 tweets, local entrepreneur/student Logan Leger consistently puts out punchy remarks on everything from sports to tech to music and movies.
Movie tax breaks have cost us $800 M, but LED says we’ve generated five times that. We can’t cut them now. It’s too soon.
— Logan Leger (@lleger) April 29, 2013
Bob Mann, an LSU faculty member, always has something to say about state and national politics. An active tweeter, Mann consistently provides followers with links and his detailed, left-leaning political commentary.
Hey, here’s a idea: Let’s go invade another Middle East country and oust their leader. What could possibly go wrong??
— Robert Mann (@RTMannJr) April 25, 2013
Patrick Mulhearn of Celtic Media Centre is an expert on the Baton Rouge film industry and “Hollywood South.” He’s active on Twitter, sharing observations, and—of course—movie trivia, tidbits and news.
As of April 2013, BR-shot Pitch Perfect’s soundtrack album has sold 663,000 copies in the US, making it the best selling soundtrack of 2013!
— Patrick Mulhearn (@LouisianaFilmTV) April 26, 2013
Chad Ortte is a Louisiana-lovin’ real estate guru whose tweets range from how to buy property to praising a food stand’s choice location in Tiger Stadium.
Theresa Overby is an enthusiast about running, social media and Baton Rouge. Follow her for running news and thought-provoking links.
I just downloaded Wifi Finder.Super handy app!Who knew @mcdonalds has free wifi? Check it out 🙂
— Theresa Overby (@theresaoverby) April 23, 2013
Haute Off the Rack is Jennifer Palpallatoc’s fashion-focused brainchild. Her frequent tweets include style guidance, cool products and gift ideas.
— Haute Off The Rack (@HauteOffTheRack) March 19, 2013
This social media strategist for LAMAR has a Twitter feed that is a zany collection of everything from newsy links and tips to Anchorman quotes.
Resumes are looking more like info graphics these days, not gonna lie! 50 Designs That Will Help You Get Dream Job: ow.ly/jRVki
— Stephanie Sander (@stephsandy) April 8, 2013
See scenes of Baton Rouge through the artsy Instagram filters of this photography buff, foodie and cat lover.
I just unlocked Grown Up Achievement #53: The neighborhood dry cleaners now recognize me and call me by name.We can never move.
— Kelly Spell (@KellySpell) April 29, 2013
LSU law professor Christopher Tyson is a fun follow for his diverse tweets. He shares news and commentary, interesting retweets, daily observations and anecdotes about life as a new father.
and yes, Im watching the #WHCD on a Saturday night (as my wife repeatedly asks, “Is anything else on??”) Its the nerd prom & Im feelin nerdy
— Christopher J. Tyson (@chrisjtyson) April 28, 2013
Former WRKF reporter-turned-LSU graduate student Swede White’s feed is a hub for local commentary and conversation.