Social Listening for Live Events: Aim for Agility


By Alli Kahle
In early 2018, The Social Lights’ office transformed into the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee’s Social Media Command Center (SMCC). A team of 70+ social media-savvy volunteers lined up to monitor the Host Committee’s social channels for the ten days leading up to Super Bowl 52.
The goal? Ensure that each Super Bowl guest had a safe, positive, and enjoyable experience in the #BoldNorth.
Live events are inherently social, with smartphone-toting attendees expecting quick responses and resolutions to their issues. As the Patriots and the Eagles took to the field for kickoff at U.S. Bank Stadium, our team fielded questions about transportation, weather, and security while simultaneously pushing out real-time content as events unfolded, boasting a response time of 15 minutes, two seconds.
So, what did we learn after spending ten days immersed in the world of social listening and moderation during one of the world’s biggest sporting events?
We can break it down to four key learnings:
Centralize response information for easy access –  and keep it updated.
The SMCC used a variety of tools to provide successful customer service and smooth transitions between team shifts. We leveraged Spredfast listening tools, Conversations and Insights, to keep a pulse on the social conversation, analyze trends, and house approved outbound content. Meanwhile, Slack allowed us to cascade messaging to all necessary parties and keep the SMCC team on top of the game plan. Google Drive supported seamless collaboration among teams, which was a key component to the SMCC’s success.
However, tools are often only as good as the information humans plug into them.
A huge amount of preparation went into imagining every possible scenario and developing a potential response. The responses came to life in a shared Response Matrix.
To accommodate the ever-changing nature of live events, Team Captains updated the Matrix as new situations arose or the answer to a question changed. Treat the Response Matrix as a living, fluid document that is simple to update.
Watch for trending topics and be ready to iterate on them.
Since #BoldNorth translates to #ColdNorth for many, we anticipated that weather would be a likely part of the conversation during the Big Game and the surrounding events. What we didn’t expect: the number of people sharing what we coined as their #BoldNorthStyle.
We collected the cold weather couture and whipped up an Instagram Story showcasing #BoldNorthStyle, all in real time.

Have team members on-site to capture content at key times.
Live event schedules can (and will!) change, but if you have people on-site already, you’ll be able to roll with the punches like a pro.
We stationed 1-2 “Runners” at event activations across the city during important times to capture content for use on all social channels. Using Slack as a messaging tool, we communicated changes to the game plan and remained agile when it came to event timing.
Don’t forget to arm your Runners with an extra phone charge or two and weather-friendly gear (in the #BoldNorth, that means hand warmers).
Plan ahead for surprise & delight.
When it came to surprise and delight opportunities, we knew that it wasn’t a matter of if they would arise, but when.
Stocked with several versions of surprise and delight packages, each featuring swag from official Host Committee sponsors, we streamlined the process and limited the number of steps between spotting the opportunity and executing the surprise and delight. This meant less time scrambling to gather the materials and more time delighting our guests.
Live events are unpredictable, but smart social media marketers find that trait to be part of the appeal. Find the right balance between planning for possible scenarios and knowing that you’ll need to embrace the unexpected.
Want to learn more about our proven process for live event monitoring? Stay tuned for the full SMCC Case Study, which will be released in the coming weeks.

Want to work with us? Contact us here.

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Background on The Social Lights
The Social Lights® is a social-first agency headquartered in Minneapolis that partners with clients to grow their business through strategy development, creative production, media buying, and social media management. Current clients include General Mills, Ecolab, Cargill, Caribou Coffee, Kwik Trip, Polaris and Massage Envy. The Social Lights was founded in 2011 and is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise. Learn more at The Social Lights.

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