The Super Bowl’s first-ever social media command center was an “enormous success,” according to Taulbee Jackson, who managed the host committee’s interactive communications hub.
A team of strategists, analysts and tech-savvy volunteers spent the past two weeks monitoring the digital fan conversation while working out of a 2,800-square-foot space in downtown Indianapolis just blocks from where Super Bowl XLVI was played Sunday. They chimed in as needed via Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.
“The number of people we were able to reach was through the roof, more than anyone on the committee expected,” Jackson said in an interview the day after the game.
With some 150,000 people expected to flood downtown Indianapolis for Super Bowl festivities, the command center functioned as an innovative way to keep football fans informed and under control.
Jackson says it had a direct reach of about 49,000 people in the Indianapolis area over Facebook, Twitter,Foursquare and YouTube. Overall, the command center delivered some 1.8 million online impressions each day for the Indianapolis host committee.
Brad Carlson, the host committee’s vice president of marketing, told Mashable that he is “sure this trend will continue” as social media becomes increasingly widespread. The committee tapped Jackson’s digital marketing agency Raidious to run the operation, which Carlson said became a hot spot for tours by other event and civic organizations.
The team used advanced search tools and analytics to identify fans in need of help by indexing key words and phrases.
On Saturday afternoon, for example, a fan named Morgan Cooper tweeted to no one in particular that she was struggling to find somewhere to park. Less than half an hour later, someone at the command center located Cooper’s post and responded via the host committee’s official account with this message:
The link contained a map of more than 50 parking areas. That ability to directly respond to visitor concerns paid off — over the month preceding the game, fan sentiment about Indianapolis and the Super Bowl averaged a three-to-one positive ratio on social networks.
Excluding search engines, social media was the number-one referral source to the host committee’s homepage, ahead of the websites of the NFL and Indianapolis Star newspaper. The command center averaged more than 3,500 retweets and 2,500 Twitter “favorites” or Facebook “Likes” per day.
Jackson also said that, by monitoring the online fan conversation, his team was actually able to learn about several minor safety issues before even being notified by official organizations.
The two biggest operational surprises were an older and less nightlife-hungry audience than expected, according to Jackson. But the command center’s successes and surprises alike will be a boon to cities and organizations that look to set up similar operations.
“We’re really excited about what we were able to accomplish,” Jackson said. “A big part of our mission was to give this new idea a shot and establish a really good baseline that future committees and events can learn from.”
What other cities and events should establish social media command centers like this? Let us know in the comments.