9 January 2010

COMP113: Blog Assignment 1

Taylor Phinney
(Taylor on Twitter)
(Taylor's website)
(Taylor on Facebook)

Taylor ("world champion American racing cyclist" - from wikipedia.org) has used Twitter since October 2008 to establish a fanbase of nearly 13,500 Twitter users. Taylor, who doesn't even turn twenty until this June, is one of the United States' most prolific and successful cyclists - having won the UCI World Road Race Championships Junior Time Trial event in 2007, the UCI World Individual Pursuit (IP) Juniors title in 2008 (along with placing third in the Time Trial), along with a slew of international victories in 2009. Taylor competed - at just eighteen - at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China and was seventh in the IP event. Last year (2009) he dominated the track cycling world, winning the IP at the World Championships and earning second place in the Kilometre race, as well as a historic win at Paris-Roubaix Espoirs (U23) (source).

Taylor is an active Twitter user, and makes use of the site for self-promotion, as well as the promotion of his teammates (Bjorn Selander, Jesse Sergent and Sam Bewley are just three examples of this) and to broadcast cycling news. He was a major, and vocal, supporter of the 2009 petition to UCI, when the organisation announced its plans to omit the IP event from future Olympic Games. The petition eventually gained more than 4,000 supporters from more than 55 countries, many of them Taylor's "followers", but was rejected. Taylor holds competitions via his Twitter account - they have included Halloween costumes as well as prizes for milestone followers (ie, his 7,000th and 8,000th followers). Since he is sponsored by a number of large companies, he has offered prizes like Oakley Jawbone sunglasses, and Nike "LiveStrong" shoes.

Taylor uses Twitter and other sites to raise the profile of cycling in the community. At local events around the US, he encourages his "Twitterati" to attend, and makes an effort to be a personable and friendly champion. His contribution to cycling website blogs (CyclingNews, VeloCast) and general availability to the press (he's also featured on numerous online radio interviews) led him to be ranked the second-most popular track cyclist of 2009 on CyclingNews.com. His own website plays second fiddle to his online presence elsewhere. There is an under-maintained Fan Page dedicated to Taylor on Facebook (992 fans) and he has nearly 5,000 friends on his personal page.

Taylor Phinney is a fine example of a "significant individual" who has used social media to engage with fans and supporters.

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