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Social media to play big role in Super Bowl

January 25, 2012

Local Super Bowl organizers are doing everything they can to make sure visitors to Indianapolis have the information they need at their fingertips—literally.

The game’s first-ever social media command center opened Monday in 2,800-square-feet of space in the Morrison Opera House building on South Meridian Street, about a block away from the heart of Super Bowl activities. There, a team of strategists, analysts and techies will monitor the digital fan conversation via Facebook, Twitter and other platforms with the goal of making Indianapolis the most interactive host city ever.

These days, ignoring conversations on social platforms would be akin to not answering the telephone in years past, said Taulbee Jackson, CEO of locally based digital marketing firm Raidious, which is hosting the command center and managing two shifts a day through game time Feb. 5.

“I don’t know that anybody’s ever gone to this level at any event, whether it’s the Super Bowl, the Oscars or the Indianapolis 500,” he said. “Our goal is to make it the most connected Super Bowl in history.”

Raidious’ staff of 16 is teaming with a group of volunteers to monitor the communications hub—and add to the conversation. All told, about 50 people will spend time in the command center, including researchers from Ball State University’s Center for Media Design, Butler University and IUPUI.

About 150,000 visitors are expected to converge on downtown for Super Bowl festivities. Volunteers will respond to fans in need of assistance by indexing keywords and phrases used by those visitors in social media conversations.

Guests searching Twitter for destinations or parking and restaurant options, for example, should receive responding tweets from the throng of volunteers tracking the digital dialogue.

“We’ve already been through a few pilot programs testing out the space,” Jackson said. “It’s been put through its paces, and we feel it’s pretty bulletproof in handling an event like the Super Bowl.”

Volunteers also will publish pieces on the various festivities, concerts and parties, and will stand by to provide information in case of a disaster.

More than 5,000 members of the media will be in Indianapolis to cover the Super Bowl, and showing them how tech savvy the city is could bolster its reputation as a solid sporting events host, said Dianna Boyce, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Host Committee.

“With social media and where it is in our society, and its ability to reach far and wide and deep, it’s an important way to share our message,” she said. “It’s the here and now.”

Chronicling the festivities via social media undoubtedly will play a big part in this year’s Super Bowl.

Local public relations agency Borshoff also is jumping into the fray, unveiling its buzzfunnel.me site on Friday. The site will feature short video content compiled and produced by staff, in addition to twitter feeds and poll questions.

The goal is to provide a behind-the-scenes perspective for visitors to the game, said Karen Alter, a Borshoff principal.

“If we find that there’s a lot of interest and the buzz really takes off, and we think it will,” she said, “then we’ll take it to other events.”

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