And just in time. The world has finally realized the power of real-time social media and how it can make or break a brand, an event, or a message. Social TV has truly arrived -- and it is entirely controlled by the conversation taking place on Twitter, Facebook -- not by the brand.
The NFL announcement of its Social Media Command Center for Super Bowl 46 is promising to be a winning play. They are smart to try and get their arms around this, realizing they may not be able to control the conversation, but they can try guiding it.
Last year, a jaw-dropping 162.9 million people watched the Super Bowl, making it the most-watched television event EVER. And since it is a global TV event, the conversation is also global. French social media monitoring service Semiocast reported that in the six-hour period around the event, there were 25% more tweets published around the globe than usual for the time period.
Twitter measures conversations in TPS or Tweets-Per-Second because they go so fast. During the final moments of the game, fans sent 4,064 Tweets per second (TPS) -- the highest TPS for any sporting event.
Brands are realizing that they better be in these global conversations. But it's been a long time since they've had a real dialog with their customers and they seem to have forgotten it's a two-way (and now multi-way) proposition. Ask big business about pushing the message and they can't shut up. Ask ab out the art of conversation and, well, it's crickets. Turns out that arriving at a high-touch relationship with customers is a form of competitive advantage. After all, markets are made up of people and the basic tenant of treating people the way you want to be treated still works.
A misstep in this area can cause potential brand damage that spreads like wildfire -- just ask McDonald's. McDonald's decided to put some muscle behind their Twitter campaign and buy some Twitter hashtags to promote its use of fresh produce. They inserted paid-for-tweets with hashtag #MeetTheFarmers. So far, so good.
Why McDonald's changed the hashtag to #McDStories is beyond comprehension. All hell broke loose and soon the 'conversation' turned to horror stories -- "Hospitalized for food poisoning after eating McDonalds in 1989. Never ate there again and became a Vegetarian. Should have sued #MCDStories," @Alice_2112 said. YIKES.
Perfect example of what not to do.
Let's hope the NFL gets it right. "Social media is just how people interact now," said Taulbee Jackson, CEO of Raidious, the digital marketing agency that the Super Bowl's host committee tapped to manage the communications hub. "We felt it was critical to have some horsepower behind that aspect of the Super Bowl here, versus what you might have seen from other Super Bowls."
I hope the Oscars are paying attention. Last year's Oscars ceremony was watched by 41.7 million people. The Oscar Digital Experience was just announced, which mentions 'tracking" the conversation. They better do more than that. Apparently some of the nominations raised eyebrows, which means strong sentiment is lingering out there. Oscar, you don't want a MickyD social disaster on your hands, do you, big guy? Remember, it's a conversation and you have a chance to guide it. Call me, I can help.
Beverly Macy is the CEO of Gravity Summit and the Co-Author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing. Gravity Summit's upcoming event on February 22, 2012 at UCLA will address social media in sports & entertainment. She also teaches Executive Global Marketing and Branding and Social Media Marketing for the UCLA Extension and lectures at Anderson Business School. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org