Twitter's Latest Event Integration Highlights New Approach to Fan Interaction
It's great to see Twitter adding in more emoji and Periscope integrations to build increasingly immersive on-platform experiences around events. The latest example is the Australian Open, currently being held in my home town of Melbourne.
To start with, Twitter's added in the now customary emoji linked to specific hashtags about the tournament.
While these are only small additions, they do stand out - anytime you're skimming through tweets and you see the Periscope emoji or a character from Star Wars, it grabs your attention, and given the wider emoji trend, these little additions can provide a significant boost for both awareness and engagement.
In addition to this, Twitter's also giving tennis fans the chance to have their selfies featured on a mural display at the event (using the hashtag #AOSelfie), enabling people from around to world to participate, despite not being physically in attendance. Twitter's also calling on international fans to use the #SleepIsForTheWeak hashtag to promote their dedication to the sport (given the conflicting southern hemisphere time zone of the event). Both are interesting as they're using hashtags to encourage and support fan activity, as opposed to simply tacking your message onto a trending stream.
In this sense, both of these hashtags seem like something of an experiment, a means of testing the next level of improved Twitter integration with fan experience. While most emoji and promoted or official hashtags are generally non-interactive (you use a hashtag and a related emoji image is attached), Twitter's focusing on what people are actually doing around the event, how they're participating in the action in their own ways, as opposed to simply promoting the event's happenings themselves. This'll likely provide them with some interesting data on how such devices can promote engagement beyond the platform and influence behavior in the real world.
Along with the new hashtags and emoji, Twiter's also working to integrate Periscope and Periscope use into the wider Australian Open conversation, introducing a 'Periscope racket' for players to use to broadcast live Q & As.
At least, I think that's what it does - the design of the racket is slightly bewildering (though I'm sure it makes perfect sense in application).
In addition, Periscope hearts will be changed to tennis balls and rackets for Australian Open broadcasts - how exactly Periscope defines which hearts are changed into tennis images is not clear, but at present, you get a stream of both hearts and tennis icons in the mix.
Again, the focus of this integration is on engagement - while it obviously makes sense that Twitter would keen to push on-platform engagement and get more people tweeting about events, these activations actually work to align more with the fan experience in the physical world, with what the fans are actually doing at and in relation to the event.
While none of this is ground-breaking stuff for Twitter - the platform's long been a key player in real-time discussion and sporting events obviously play a big part in that - it is interesting to see how Twitter s experimenting with different ways to use the platform and boost fan experiences by better aligning with their actions, as opposed to the happenings of the event itself. In this context, you can start to see where Twitter may be headed with other, rumored, event integrations - just recently, a patent was released which showed Twitter is working on a way to use drones to take selfies of Twitter users at major events.
While, as noted, Twitter's considered the leader in real-time discussion, and the place to be to get up-to-the-minute info on events, the platform's looking to take this further with these new, audience-focused activations. Rather than being the place to simply stay up to date with the latest news, Twitter's looking to better facilitate such interactions and play a part in the wider experience.
Done right, Twitter could leverage such options to further embed itself as the key resource for event coverage, which can only be a positive for the longer term viability of the micro-blog platform.
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