Innovation, Social Media and Sporting Events — What’s the Catch?

Innovation, social media and sporting events — do these three phrases actually go together? Sporting events have historically been laggards in technology adoption, focusing more on their captive audiences and increasing revenue flow through “in event” sales such as merchandise, food and beverages, etc. But we’re now seeing two organizations blow that model out of the water with their interpretation of customer engagement, community building and brand value.

The Australian Open “aced” social media by become one of the most “digitally connected sporting events of all time,” says one Mashable Business article. Along with a “Slamtracker” app, where online users could get real-time updates of qualifying play, the Australian Open offered a 24-hour a day Twitter feed complete with “a fan leader board that ranks players based on buzz and provides a social counterpoint to on-court results,” says Mashable. Adding to that, the sporting event empowered its biggest proponents by enabling “Fanbassadors” who became such by mastering a strong online presence and a wealth of tennis knowledge. In mastering its own online presence, the Australian Open actually grew its name, “brand” and fan base immensely — proving that social media can be as big of a hit with its fans as some of the greatest tennis all-stars are.

Now, on to the upcoming Super Bowl XLVI. Naturally, when you prep for the annual Super Bowl, you think chips, dip, beer and wings. But add a little social media to your platter and now you’re talking. For this year’s big game,  the Indianapolis Super Bowl XLVI Host Committee spent more than a year’s time and effort working to determine what its best social media management potential could be. This July, after considering 60 social media management candidates, the Committee chose to use Awareness Social Marketing Hub. The result is incredible:

“The Indianapolis Social Media Command Center is a 2,800 sq.-ft. facility perched strategically above the Super Bowl village in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. A staff of 50, including student interns from nearby universities, uses the Awareness Social Marketing Hub to monitor more than 300 keywords on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. The platform allows the team to respond in real time to fan comments, providing directions and venue information, as well as gathering and sharing information to ensure fans don’t miss any of the action. The team is currently managing as many as 1,500 interactions per day across the four channels, a number that is expected to climb as the big game approaches.”

Essentially, Super Bowl fans are being interacted with, engaged and catered to on not only a daily basis, but also almost instantaneously. This exemplifies the power and reach of social media — and as a result, Super Bowl fanatics feel closer to the game than ever before.

Social media — when done with extreme care, attention to detail, user awareness/engagement and positivity — can change the world as we know it. As bold as that statement may be, we’re just bold enough to say that we’re seeing it happen as we speak. Tune in to the Super Bowl this Sunday — on your TV, on Twitter and on Facebook — to see, feel and experience it for yourself.

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