Social media marketing analytics: A case study of the public's perception of Indianapolis as Super Bowl XLVI host city
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Using the example of a major event, this case study shows how social media analytics can be used for real-time assessment and issue identification. We introduce a method of using social media analytics that enable both broad overall assessment and in-depth understanding of the topics and issues that emerge around a marketing campaign.
Keywordssocial media marketing social media analytics sports marketing consumer monitoring marketing technology event marketing
This case study offers a snapshot of the public's perception of Indianapolis’ marketing of Super Bowl XLVI and presents practical implications for how social media analytic tools can be used to help organizations with real-time monitoring, analysis and assessment of marketing activities.
Among the world's top sporting events, none create as much economic impact as the National Football League's Super Bowl. 1 In 2011, the National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasted consumer spending on Super Bowl ‘game-related merchandise, apparel and snacks’ to reach $10.1 bn; 2 in 2012, the NRF predicted consumer spending to exceed $11 bn. 3 With such staggering figures, it is easy to see why the Super Bowl is lauded as the sporting industry's largest consumer spending event — and an incredible financial opportunity for the city that hosts it. In 2012, Indianapolis won this opportunity and capitalized on social media analytics to assess the public's perception of its Super Bowl marketing efforts.
Pre-game insights: Indy as an unusual Super Bowl host city
Indianapolis (‘Indy’) was not considered a typical Super Bowl host city (eg, Miami, FL, New Orleans, LA) because of its cold climate, limited accommodation and small population. However, state officials saw Super Bowl XLVI as a prime chance to highlight the city's capability to host a large-scale event. Hospitality and accommodation were two key areas that, if effectively marketed to the public, could ensure an overall positive perception of Indianapolis, thus bringing it on at par with other Super Bowl host cities — and to the forefront of America's top tourist destinations. Therefore, to ensure that their marketing efforts were successful, city officials outsourced some of its social media analytic efforts to our research team during Indy's 5-day hosting of the Super Bowl.
On the playing field: Gaining grassroots consumer insights through social media analytics
Measuring a marketing campaign's success solely through financial metrics can leave out important details relating to consumer experience, sentiment and the perceived effectiveness of an organization. Assessing the successful marketing of a large-scale sporting event such as the Super Bowl hinges upon understanding people's overall experiences, not just how much money they spend. Few traditional marketing campaign assessment strategies seek to truly understand this overall experience at the grassroots consumer level. However, social media marketing analytics can fill in this gap by uncovering the multidimensional experience of consumers through real-time analyses of qualitative data (ie, people's discourse about their lived experience).4, 5, 6, 7 Moreover, real-time monitoring of large events can help identify issues as they arise and address them before they become crises.8, 9
Game on: Our method for analysing social media marketing data
#super bowl indianapolis
#super bowl indy
Touchdown: How marketing affected sentiment
We further explored each major negative keyword by examining a secondary word cloud generated only from posts that included this keyword. This method enabled us to identify quickly potential issues as soon as they arose and gain an in-depth understanding of each issue.
Once again, we used word clouds to identify the most frequently mentioned topics, and then further explored each one using second- and third-level word clouds and manual examination of the posts they emerged from. This method enabled us to both identify the major topics of public chatter and gain an in-depth understanding of the nature of public discussion under each topic.
The advantage of this method is that it uses a combination of automated and manual analyses in order to gain maximum insights efficiently. Using this method, we identified overarching themes in the public's stream of social media content about Indianapolis’ marketing campaign. We then performed a manual thematic analysis 13 on the selected posts that emerged as relevant for each major theme. These themes became the summative assessment of our efforts — the results are shown in the next section.
The public social media chatter about Indianapolis’ hosting of the Super Bowl revolved around three major themes: hospitality, accommodation and the game itself. Our exploratory method enabled us to identify specific topics associated with each of the major themes. For example, topics related to hospitality were about the way the city and its residents received and treated visitors and about the entertainment in Indy's Super Bowl Village.
The major themes that arose are as follows:
Reception and treatment of visitors
In reading the post-Super Bowl coverage today, I still haven’t read a single negative thing about Indy as host city. That's pretty awesome.
Friday night in Indy … perfect weather, and locals as nice as any I can remember from any Super Bowl host city. Crowded, but great.
Thank u to city of Indianapolis for being an awesome host for Super Bowl XLVI … 1st class operation & people couldn’t have been friendlier.
Entertainment and attractions provided by the city
The Great thing abt a non-traditional SB host city: Indy set up a welcome band at the airport! #SBXLVI http://t.co/rSU9gk1G
Love it! RT @tenormack @DanielleSmithTV took my 9 y/o son ziplining on an 800’ line in Super Bowl Village, Indy today!
Super Bowl village wayfinding sign, underscoring just how much Indy was offering the crowds, and not just zip lines http://t.co/iPl1wLTM Fabulous bonding time.
The zip lines are a huge hit, and Madonna seems to excite everyone. Hosting the Super Bowl has given local politicians a chance to puff out their chests, show off their beautiful new stadium, and declare this is a big city after all. More …
13 hurt in Friday's Super Bowl 2012 Village crowd of 200,000; police announce … — Indianapolis Star http://t.co/6eogPxdj follow me
So … Darrin & I went downtown Indy tonight to see all the Super Bowl excitement. We had went to the Village last night. It was pretty cool. BUT TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! O M G!!!!! I have NEVER seen so many people in one place in my life!!! The police had to block off Washington St, Illinois, & Meridian St due …
Overwhelming crowds and reports of injuries and arrests in Indianapolis’ Super Bowl Village are causing police to rethink crowd control before the game. Eleven were injured Friday night as an estimated 50,000 people flooded downtown streets for a free outdoor concert by the band LMFAO. Police …
Downtown Indy is PACKED. Like Gman Tuesday of syllabus week packed. Can barely walk through Super Bowl village. #SBXLVI
Ventured downtown Indy. Too crowded for me. Super Bowl crazy! Just trying to watch IU at Purdue.
Recapping the game
This case study shows how social media analytics can be used to gain real-time insights about marketing campaigns. The steps we used first to identify issues as they emerged and then to examine them closely generated insights that had both breadth and depth and could be used as a basis for immediate action. This method goes beyond generic analysis of overall sentiment (positive, neutral, negative) while not being slowed down by the need to examine every post manually. Our method used the Radian6 application to identify and explore major issues and themes that emerged, followed by manual analysis of selected posts to gain further in-depth understanding. As a result, the evaluation shows not only the general sentiment of public opinion, but also the specific topics of discussion associated with this sentiment.
Social media analytics offer marketing analysts the possibility of real-time monitoring of consumers’ sentiment and response to an organization's marketing activities. As opposed to traditional marketing assessment tools, social media marketing analytics can monitor marketing activities as they occur in real-time. This offers organizations an opportunity to assess marketing efforts according to the ebb and flow of consumer response to that organization's marketing activities.
We have shown how this can be done effectively in real time, even when dealing with large amounts of information. Identifying issues and specific topics in real-time enables marketers to quickly adapt and improve campaign efforts. This can, in turn, ensure the success of the various aspects of a marketing campaign and identify the specific aspects that account for success. Furthermore, by monitoring marketing campaigns in real time, analysts can impose quantifiable metrics (sales, the frequency and response to social media discourse, etc) on an organization's marketing campaign and assess such metrics as they occur.
- Schwartz, P.J. (2010) ‘The world's top sports events’, Forbes.com, 10 March, available at http://www.forbes.com/global/2010/0315/companies-olympics-superbowl-daytona-worlds-top-sports-events.html, accessed 26 January 2013.
- Grannis, K. (2011) ‘Super Bowl equals party time, according to RAMA survey’, NRF.com, 25 January, available at http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=News&op=viewlive&sp_id=1073, accessed 28 January 2013.
- Grannis, K. (2012) ‘Record number of Americans to celebrate Super Bowl this year with plans to spend $11 billion’, NRF.com, 25 January, available at http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=News&op=viewlive&sp_id=1073, accessed 28 January 2013.
- Bukhari, I., Wojtalewicz, C., Vorvoreanu, M. and Dietz, E. (2012) ‘Social media use for large event management: The application of social media analytics tools for the Super Bowl XLVI’, Proceedings of the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Homeland Security, pp. 24–29; 13–15 November 2012, Waltham, MA.Google Scholar
- Patton, M.Q. (1990) Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods, 2nd edn. Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA.Google Scholar
- Newton, C. (2009) ‘On automated sentiment analysis’, Radian6.com, 10 December, available at http://www.radian6.com/blog/2009/12/on-automated-sentiment-analysis/, accessed 28 January 2013.
- Delaria, K. (2011) ‘Don’t just run reports — Read them to gather competitive intel’, Radian6.com, 23 June, available at http://www.radian6.com/blog/tag/word-cloud/, accessed 28 January 2013.
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