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Note to selfie - social media and the 2014 Commonwealth Games

By Stephen Tagg - Posted on 7 March 2014

Dr Stephen Tagg, Reader in the Department of Marketing at Strathclyde Business School considers how social media might be used to enhance the experience of the Glasgow games.

It’s now less than six months until the Commonwealth Games opens in Glasgow. With an estimated worldwide audience of one billion people it’s an event that will be getting talked about on a global scale, which raises some interesting questions on how the games will be viewed on social media. The recent Oscar selfie phenomenon highlights that a single tweet can find a massive audience.

The issue was central to a recent event looking at the SECC looking at ‘The challenge of digital media for the 2014 Commonwealth Games’ Chaired by John Beattie, from the BBC my fellow speakers were Alex Balfour (Head of Digital Media for the 2012 Olympic games), Paul Giblin (Digital Media Manager, Glasgow 2014), and Fin Wycherley from Supersize Media.

The event gave me the opportunity to highlight Strathclyde Business School’s interests in e-marketing. Digital marketing is both ubiquitous and powerful. Recent work with my colleagues in Humanities and Social Sciences suggests that mere exposure to information increases young people's engagement with the debate around the Scottish referendum on Independence.

With a few months to go before plans go live a lot of discussion on the 2014 games focussed on the issue of legacy and how to use the event to encourage the take up of sport through social media. It was suggested that humour might help, and further that it was useful to tell stories about sportspeople that local kids could identify with.

Questions were also asked about how to get more than the basics out of sentiment analysis. One guest had had experience of sentiment analysis delivering only neutral results. My own background on sentiment analysis suggests that improvements can be delivered using alternative lexicons, or you could finally move beyond the ‘bag of words' approach to use NLP (Natural Language Processing).

The theme of sponsorship was also explored. Our debate explored the issue of getting sponsors involved without over egging the brand. Tweets stuffed full of corporate messages will have little room for relevant content with positive messages likely to get lost. One potential way suggested to avoid this was to put images and videos in the message as a way to increase involvement in conversations.

The use of social media at the 2014 Games is guaranteed but the best ways of partners using the medium is not yet set. The recent Oscar selfie turned out to be a marketing ploy for Samsung – it worked for them and they didn’t overplay their involvement. Whether other brands follow suit in July remains to be seen but we await the end results with interest.

Do you think social media will play an important role at the Commonwealth Games? Are you worried that large corporations will try to hijack the positive legacy of sport and healthy living?



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