TODAY Show engages concert crowds on social media

By Cory Bergman 

It’s summertime, which means the TODAY Show’s concert series is in full swing, drawing big crowds to 30 Rockefeller Plaza in NY every Friday morning. This year, TODAY producers are putting social media to work more than ever, encouraging the crowd — and the artists themselves — to share tweets and photos.

“Our concert fans show up with their cell phones to every performance,” says Melissa Lonner, senior producer at TODAY. “Social media has allowed fans to immediately share the concert experience with their friends and family, and their participation has energized the concert-going experience.”

For starters, TODAY staff hold up signs encouraging the crowd to share on Facebook and Twitter. Each concert has a unique hashtag — for example, this Friday’s Maroon 5 concert will be tagged #Maroon5TODAY. TODAY works with artists in advance to try to get everyone to use the same hashtag.

“Driving the online conversation around the TODAY concert series is definitely a group effort,” explains Ryan Osborn, director of social media at NBC News. “Engaging with the artists and bands in the weeks prior and mobilizing the crowd on the plaza the morning of the show has proven to be the best way to encourage the online water cooler around a concert.”

In late May, TODAY’s Rhianna concert became the #2 trending topic worldwide. Chris Brown’s concert last month trended as well, setting an all-time attendance record for TODAY’s Concert Series. Each concert, like Cee Lo Green’s pictured below, always sparks a flood of tweets and pics.

“Not only has the sea of fans holding up their cell phones become a fixture on the plaza, but the artists make it their priority to connect with their fans and our viewers through social media up until they are on stage,” says Lonner. Blake Shelton even sent a tweet from the TODAY stage.

TODAY producers are also using Instagram to share and curate concert photos. And for each concert, producers curate many of the best tweets and photos using Storify — here’s Cee Lo and Journey.

TODAY isn’t the only concert series in town — Good Morning America is running its own summer concerts, such as the Lady Gaga bash in May using the hashtag, #BornthisGMA. GMA has also partnered with GetGlue to award stickers for fans who check-into the live events, either on TV or in person.

(Full disclosure: I work at msnbc.com, which is a joint venture of NBC and Microsoft.)

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