Learning From a Super Bowl's Social Media Command Center
In 2012, more than 160 million people watched Eli Manning lead the New York Giants to victory over the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI. While most viewers enjoyed the game from the comfort of living rooms or sports bars, 68,000 lucky fans packed Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. But regardless of whether the game was watched on a bar stool or in a box seat, in past Super Bowls the organizers’ job was just to deliver the best experience seen on the field. This time, however Taulbee Jackson and the Super Bowl’s host committee had something new ready.
For two years prior, Jackson’s company Raidious worked to build a Social Media Command Center that was ultimately used to complement the experience of Super Bowl attendees. More than just a central repository to consolidate Instasgram pictures, the Command Center was a vital source “for safety, service, and making sure people had a good experience,” said Jackson. “At the end of the day we wanted to create a very positive perception of Indianapolis, and we certainly accomplished that.” He said it wasn’t intended to be like Nike or other large brands where there was a lot of proactive content created in order to sell something. “It was more about creating a real-time experience for fans for every touch point on the street as well as online.”
Instead of a more traditional model of using social media that scales as large as possible, the Command Center was in ways an experiment in using social media to deliver an enhanced local experience. The people who manned the Command Center were monitoring Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms during the days leading up to the Super Bowl so they could swoop in whenever help could be offered to fans. “From the time a visitor steps off the plane, whether it was in a cab or in a hotel or on Twitter or Facebook we wanted to make sure they had an amazing experience and find all the information they needed and maybe even some that they weren’t looking for,” Jackson said.
By using sentiment, Jackson and his team were able to confirm that they had been successful. After establishing a baseline prior to the event and measuring it in real time, “At kickoff we were at a 3.6 to 1 positive to negative sentiment ratio,” said Jackson. (Meaning that for every negative comment that appeared on social media, 3.6 positive comments did as well.) Not to mention that that sentiment was from 50,000 fans by kickoff, or ten times what the NFL had set as a goal. To Jackson, having a substantial audience was key. “Nothing else happens without audience growth,” and to that end they created a lot of preplanned, proactive content to drive engagement.
Jackson hopes that after having helped create such a positive experience influence, this year’s Super Bowl and other future events can take cues from what Raidious learned. He says that the opportunity to surprise and delight people is something that brands have a real challenge finding. “The fact that it’s real time and based on listening and not talking is a huge change of mindset for marketers.” But after such a successful experience, maybe brands will start taking those cues, too.
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