A decade ago, organizations expected that communication strategies for public events would have to plan for sufficient time lags before their messages reached a broad audience base. This is no longer true, as new communication technologies allow events to go viral in a matter of hours. While entrepreneurs have been effectively leveraging these technologies over the last decade, even established offline events - such as the US Super Bowl, the Grammy's and the Academy Awards – have begun to look at communication technology differently and are making viral touchdowns.
So, how can companies effectively use technology to make events go viral? The most obvious strategy is to build technology infrastructure. At Super BowlXLVII, the Wi-Fi network at the New Orleans Superdome was structured to handle 30,000 simultaneous connections during a single game.
It's also important to think 'new media' technology from the start and devise content for different platforms. For instance, the Academy Awards have traditionally been broadcast via television networks. But the 85th Academy Awards were also streamed online, with a special online version. Interestingly, content for the Internet and television versions was different.
But perhaps the most spectacular viral touchdown of 2013 was scored at the Grammy's leveraging of social media platforms. Besides exclusive content for social media, the event host also pushed the show's social media presence during the live event. The Grammy social media platforms were active during the event, with an interplay between online and offline media. In fact, users' tweets were even read out as part of the live event. Clearly, the organizers had carefully planned their approach to social media technology long before the show.
The impact of technology was also seen at the Wipro San Francisco Marathon held last year where a real-time tracking app let supportive friends and family stay abreast of a runner's location. The live runner tracking app also sends live results via email, text message, Twitter or Facebook.
Successful usage of technology to make events go viral may also necessitate the creation of technology war rooms – like at the Grammy Awards – to back the development of the event in real time. At Super BowlXLVII, organizers also had to deal with their worst power outage ever.
Even after the event, technology still has a role to play. It pays to use analytical tools to gauge the impact of an event. That's what most successful corporations do.
The rich dividends from these approaches were visible at the Super Bowl, the Grammy Awards and the Academy Awards. With 24.1 million tweets at the Super Bowl XLVII, 13.2 million tweets at the Grammy Awards 2013, and 8.9 million tweets at the 85th Academy Awards – a combination of these strategies is clearly what you need to score a viral touchdown.