Twitter is an amazing social media tool that can be used to create relationships, monitor sentiment, garner feedback, mediate service issues, disseminate information, and more. Because there are so many uses for the 140-character microblogging tool, a ton of data can be collected simply by engaging in the conversation and/or listening to what others are saying organically.
The mountains of data twitter can create in a matter of minutes is a marketer’s dream – that is, until it comes time to mine the data and draw conclusions. But, before this happens, there is a good chance that when executing a time sensitive Twitter campaign, real-time data analytics become more important than analyzing the historical data once the campaign comes to a close. This is also key during live events when there are restrictions or risks that can now be posed using a mere 140 characters.
Let’s take the London 2012 Olympics as an example and discuss some of the implications that real-time data monitoring had on the various players.
First, there is NBC. NBC was the host network and it quickly experienced a hailstorm of negative feedback when there was a noticeable disconnect – NBC was streaming live Twitter updates during the opening ceremony, but not actually broadcasting the events in real-time online or on TV. #NBC was quickly trending (and not for a good reason), but it was important for the NBC team to be on top of the tweets and realize that they had to do something about it. Since NBC did embrace the idea of integrating social and TV, they had various Twitter accounts ready to engage, they just weren’t doing it in sync. Welcome to the digital age.
Another “player” in this Olympic Twitter game is the athletes. The athletes were using Twitter to chat with the public and provide real-time updates and share photos about their experiences. While most tweets were positive and in support of the games, a rant from U.S. women’s soccer player, Hope Solo, went in another direction. Solo outright criticized the reporting of Brandi Chastain (past Olympic goalie) who was covering the sport as an NBC analyst. Solo defended her tweets and felt that she had the right to express her opinion via Twitter. Because the Olympics and NBC was monitoring the real-time tweets, they were well aware of this tweet as soon as it hit the feed.
And how about the International Olympic Committee who found part of their responsibility this year was to monitor athletes’ Twitter accounts in real-time and ensure they followed both sponsorship and moral guidelines? This type of monitoring led to two athletes who were quickly banned from tweeting, due to racist comments, only four days into the games.
So, we must understand that there is a time and place for real-time data analytics, especially when it comes to social media and response driven interactions. Without paying attention and listening to the comments in these spaces, it is impossible to keep control of a time sensitive campaign. Maybe in four years, each player will have learned a lesson…and probably have moved onto a new platform!