On Sunday 26 April, alongside around 38,000 other intrepid runners, I ran the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon (I promise this will be the last time I mention it). To make it harder for myself, I decided to live tweet my way around the course.
Along the way, I learned some very valuable lessons about people, how they use social when watching live events, and the opportunities that could arise for brands and stakeholders, however large or small. I saw huge global brands missing an opportunity to engage with the captive audience that surrounded them; I saw charities with runners using hashtags on their vests; and I saw a full brand story unfold in front of me.
Of these, the latter is most interesting: Pink Lady apples. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen an apple, or an apple brand, advertised in a public arena. Pink Lady had a full page ad in the Marathon magazine that anyone who applied for a London Marathon place received for free.
So what, you say? Well, after running about 3 miles, I was overtaken by a couple of guys dressed as Pink Lady branded apples – probably more of a surprise to me than it was to you! After a brief moment putting two and two together, I thought nothing more of it until the finish, when in the runners’ goody bags was a free Pink Lady apple. A great use of a brand at all stages of a runner’s journey.
But getting back to the social side of things, a number of brands and charities along the way decided to get involved with the #socialmarathon – Dogs Trust, JustGiving, and even the social media team at Tower Bridge. Now, clearly, the activity around my handle and my hashtag was only a snip of the full #LondonMarathon conversation, but the opportunities are clear to see.
From looking back through the conversation on the Storify, and reflecting on things I did or didn’t see along the way, I have learned the following about using Twitter at public events:
- A captive audience waiting for their moment will take and share photos of things they enjoy/find amusing
- Brands could be making more use of the hoardings and billboards that are so prolific (as I’ve written about before)
- Brands and charities could do more with the opportunities attached to the runners – after all, this is where the audience is actually looking!
- People (i.e. your audience – who we really want to engage with) will do anything if you ask them to – even donate money to someone they’ve never met or a cause they’ve never heard of.
- And finally, people are just genuinely lovely.
Furthermore, for one of our current clients, we did some hyper-geotargeting around their offices, and to the people who would be in the area on Marathon day – with Twitter, you can target people on a street-by-street basis. It resulted in more engagement in one day than in the previous two weeks combined. Some food for thought.
Flick through the Storify to see some of the things I saw, and all of the lovely people saying lovely things as I went round. It truly was both the best and worst experience of my life, and I would encourage everyone – including you – to try it just once. And once again, I promise this is the last time I mention it.
Meanwhile, I’m off to train for next year!