Super Bowl XLVI Reaches Out To Fans from the Social Media Command Center

While the Giants take on the Patriots at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis this weekend, the Host Committee organized for the event will look after their fans from the watchful computer screens of the Indianapolis Social Media Command Center.

The facility is a 2,800 square-foot building looking down on Super Bowl village in downtown Indianapolis.  Sleek and modern, with exposed brick and rows of gleaming Mac computers, the command center was set up especially for the game.

Inside, a team of 50 staff members and volunteers from nearby universities are monitoring more than 300 keywords on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare and Flickr to respond to questions from visitors about the upcoming Super Bowl.

The committee uses the Awareness Social Marketing Hub to centralize its activities across the various social media channels. “Social media is not an afterthought,” said Mike Lewis, vice president of marketing and sales at Awareness, Inc. “It is an integral part of how you plan, design and execute your fan engagement.”

An estimated 150,000 people will come to Indianapolis to see the game this weekend. Operating in two shifts, the command center team will work for two weeks, 15 hours a day, to help out with venue information and parking, to offer sightseeing tips, to respond to emergencies, and to cover the game highlights as they unfold. So far, the team is managing around 1,500 interactions per day, which is likely to increase over the weekend. A look at the dashboard shows just how many mentions and comments they field on Twitter alone.

The hardest part about monitoring a large-scale social media effort is understanding the language people use to ask a question, said Taulbee Jackson, president and CEO of Raidious, the Indianapolis-based social media agency that’s managing the operation.

In a trial run,”We expected them to ask, ‘where should I park?,'” Jackson said. “Instead, they said, ‘I can’t find a parking spot.'” The system can monitor passive phrases like this one as well as key words, and the committee also uses the ChaCha Answers application to respond to questions sent by text in real time.

Sports fans can expect a warm welcome this weekend. Not only is Indianapolis “rich in culture,” said Jackson, the city is made up of genuinely nice people. Reaching out to visitors online is a way for the committee to reinvent “Hoosier Hospitality for the 21st century,” he said.

Image by raidiouscontent via Flickr