London, Mar 9 (ANI): A retweet on your Twitter account from your favorite athlete or star has replaced autographs and signed balls and bats as souvenirs.
Fans have turned Twitter into a digital version of the autograph session, asking - sometimes begging stars from every sport for a shout-out.
Some requests are designed to raise the profile of a charitable cause. But most fans are simply looking for a little love from their favorite athletes.
"It's almost like capturing a photo of yourself with that person," the Daily Mail quoted Chris Abraham, senior vice president at Social Ally, a social media firm as saying.
"For a second there, you've breached their celebrity.
"They've actually allowed you to come over and take a camera shot of you two together, and you can share it with all your friends," he said.
Still, a retweet might not sound all that thrilling. You can't frame it and hang it on a wall [though you could do a screen grab and print it out], and it can't be passed down to your kids and grandkids.
You can't collect retweets in a book and show it off to your friends, and no one's going to pay six figures for a retweet, as someone once did for a baseball signed by Babe Ruth.
But that's the old-school way of thinking. An autograph is going to be seen by 15, maybe 20 people.
Get a retweet from Shaquille O'Neal, and you're now the coolest thing ever with the 5 million-plus people who follow the Big Tweeter.
To say nothing of the bragging rights you'll get when the folks who follow you see it.
"You can tweet that to your boys. Or if they're following you, they see it," O'Neal, now an analyst for TNT said.
"You have 15 minutes of fame," he said.
Sometimes you get even more than that.
A few weeks ago, New England Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, perhaps the most prolific athlete on Twitter, showed up on the doorstep of a follower who invited him to come over after Ochocinco tweeted that he was driving around Miami.
When Ochocinco posted photos of their meeting, the follower's timeline was flooded with so many messages he'd need until next month's NFL draft to respond to them all.
For the last three semesters, David Gerzof Richard has given his social media and marketing class at Emerson College the assignment of making contact with a Boston-area celebrity through social media.
The class picked Ochocinco last semester and, not only did he respond, he took the entire class to dinner, spending more than three hours talking about social media and why he considers it important.
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was this semester's quest, and the class got a response almost immediately.
"We've connected with two out of the three. ... If they had to sit down and call the agent or publicist, I'm pretty sure our success rate would be zero," Richard said.
"I would never have imagined that the course that took me into academia would, in a million years, have me connecting with athletes.
"That's the wonderful thing about social media, it literally opens doors that people could never imagine," he added. (ANI)