Indianapolis Social Media: Way More than 46
If you’re a member of the Indianapolis social media community, you’ve probably heard of the Social 46. Commonly seen in conjunction with the #SB46 hashtag, these 46 locals were selected by the Super Bowl Host Committee in conjunction with Klout to help spread the word about Indianapolis’ first ever Super Bowl. These individuals were given swag, including merchandise and tickets to local Super Bowl-related experiences and events, and asked in exchange to tweet about all of the exciting happenings in Indy.
Great idea, right? Engage influencers, get buy-in from locals, get the Internet humming with news of Indy’s awesomeness, position Indy as a tech-savvy city. Everything’s peachy keen, right? Well…not quite.
Since the 46 were chosen, the issue has become divisive: people were begging to be one of the Chosen. Others were scoffing at the entire idea, disparaging those who were selected. Others were confused about the selection criteria. And almost any criticism of the program got a response of “you’re just jealous you weren’t picked. It’s really no big deal.”
At its heart, Social 46 is a great idea. But there are very real problems with its execution that leave me concerned about its overall success:
Lack of Transparency
From the beginning, there was mass misinformation about how the 46 were chosen. Because the perk was administered via Klout, some people thought Klout score was the only criterion for selection. Not so. Based on what I was told by those who attended to event (including Roundpeg’s own Lorraine Ball), it was a combination of Klout and a list created by the Host Committee of people who are influential in a variety of areas in Indianapolis. That’s fine, but the misinformation made its way even to the mainstream media and was misreported, which creates a problem and a lot of sore egos.
Solution: Explain more clearly how and why people were chosen. It doesn’t need to be exhaustive, but the committee failed to communicate with those who weren’t chosen, and so ignored a huge audience of potential brand advocates.
Again, per Social 46′s official communication, those chosen were identified as “one of the most socially savvy people in Indiana.” This construct meant that anyone who wasn’t chosen was left to feel that they weren’t savvy, they weren’t influential, they didn’t matter. I know this isn’t what the Host Committee wanted, but that’s the effect it had. It made it an us vs. them battle, the haves vs. the have nots.
Solution: The Committee could have gone with a much more inclusive message: “The Indianapolis social media community is so large and varied, we couldn’t even fit you all in one room! So we’ve selected a cross-section of our vibrant, diverse community. But we want all of you to be involved, too! Look to these 46 influencers for the inside scoop, but we want your unique perspective. Please send your own tweets and blogs with the #SB46 hashtag and join the conversation.” That way, you can do the outreach and the perk to 46 people and make them your most dedicated brand advocates, but you make the rest of the community feel loved and valued, and not like the uncool kids.
We’ve known for several years that we’d be hosting the biggest game in America, yet these folks were brought together only three weeks before the event. With such a compressed time frame, you lose some of the excitement of the buildup. You lose the opportunity to slowly build local support. Instead, you have it all shoved into the last two weeks in a flurry of activity.
Solution: Plan ahead. This could have started at any time in the past few years, allowing for greater group cohesion and brand awareness to form. Instead, it feels rushed and hurried.
Having civilian brand advocates is absolutely critical to the success of such a large event. But because these people were brought together by the Super Bowl Host Committee, they’re seen as being representatives of the event and of Indianapolis. From what I have been told, there was no training given about what to or not to tweet and how to represent the city. While some might argue that this makes the content more “authentic,” as a communications professional, I worry about what happens if, God forbid, there’s a disaster: a freak tornado or a tent collapse. These people will be looked to as a source of information–are they prepared for that? What happens if one of them tweets something offensive or ignorant or just wrong in the heat of the moment? They’re a representative of the Host Committee, and what they say carries weight.
Solution: Include some basic information on what to–and what not–to tweet. Clarify exactly what role the Social 46 play and whether or not their tweets should be construed as communications from the Committee at large.
I know some people will say I’m just bitter because I wasn’t chosen. And I’ll be honest: I would have loved to have been chosen. But this isn’t about me. This is about helping our city come together to show the world what we have. However, this program is causing divisions, cliques and confusion. I hope this program is a smashing success and Indy becomes a social media darling. Social 46? Prove me wrong.