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New Twitter 'Lists' Connect Pro Sports Fans

The National Hockey League (NHL) is using Twitter’s new "Lists" tool to connect and share online conversations by its fans regarding the league’s individual teams.

The league’s initiative is among the first examples of a major brand using the recently-debuted Twitter “Lists” function, which lets users create groupings of their favorite users that others can easily keep tabs on.

The feature enables users to follow a list of individual users with one-click, instead of needing to follow each user one-by-one. NHL’s model shows that Twitter "Lists" can serve as a crowdsourcing tool in which users can find one another and form their own niche communities around their favorite topics.

The move is the latest in a string of social media initiatives launched by the NHL aimed at making it easier for its fans to find and interact with NHL content and share it with friends. Last week, the league launched its official Facebook page that includes virtual gifts, polls, message boards, blogs, and other interactive content.

Yesterday, the US-based hockey league asked its more than 114,000 Twitter followers to reply with a message that indicated their favorite team and included the hashtag "#myfavoriteNHL team." As users responded, the NHL added the participants to new team lists hosted on the NHL’s Twitter channel site. Lists included "@NHL/blues-fans" for St. Louis Blues fans and @NHL/red-wings-fans for Detroit Red Wings fans. As of this writing, the NHL had added nearly 1,300 fans to its 20 lists, and more than 300 users had opted to follow those lists.

For its part, the NHL’s main Twitter channel has been added to more than 750 "Lists" maintained by other users. Last week on the Twitter blog, founder Biz Stone highlighted a few popular “Lists” that had been recently formed. For example, The New York Times has grouped 97 members of its staff into the @nytimes/staff list. Additionally, StockTwits created a list of suggested stock market traders for its users to follow.

In addition to the NHL, other American professional sports leagues are increasingly making use of online tools and platforms to reach their fans and polish their image. The National Basketball League (NBA), for example, recently launched a new online video rule book on its website that illustrates more than 100 regulations through video clips from recent and high-profile league games. The NBA hopes that the new offering will educate fans, the media and other interested parties about the rules of the game.

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