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Jumping in on the Conversation: Predicting Optimum Moments for Brand Engagement During Live Events

By 8th July 2016 No Comments

Last week I presented at the Brandwatch and Spredfast Euro’s event in London, where I was talking all things second screening.  So, I’m not a football fan myself, but I do find the emotional cognition around connecting online during live events interesting.  In my world of social data analysis, the data around second screening and live events is a great way to show that while we humans are totally bonkers and make irrational decisions, we’re also totally predictable.  It’s this predictability that can help sponsors and brand to engage, in real-time with event audiences… And here’s the science behind it.

Can you Really Second Screen?

When I go home to visit my mum, there is always a running commentary about how I can’t possibly watch TV and be on my laptop at the same time.  Don’t worry we don’t just watch TV all the time; we do talk!

Now, I’m working rather than chatting about the TV shows I’m watching, but the principle is the same.  My attention flits between the TV and the laptop, when something crucial or interesting comes on screen my attention switches to the TV but otherwise it’s just background noise.  My mum can’t wrap her head around this, so I told her about the cocktail party effect, and we did a little test.

Have a listen to this video…


Did you tune into one voice more than the other?  Everyone has a different level of ability to do this, but our brains are so adept at shutting out background noise and actively processing the juicy communication that we don’t even realise it’s happening.

Take the cocktail party, for instance, everyone’s talking, there’s so much noise, but you manage to focus on the conversation you want.  Then bam, someone across the room says your name and you hear it and respond to it.

We’re Wired to Connect

So, it’s totally possible to second screen.  In fact, second screening even helps some people to understand and process information and events better by reading other people’s responses.  Good so far?

Then we’ve got the fact that our brains are wired to connect.  Even when we are not actively thinking, we’re probably more often than not running through how we fit into the world.  Your daydreams… You daydream for a reason, to feel connected.

Pretty cool, yeah?

So, what happens when we’re sitting at home and watching something that’s culturally relevant and has a catalyst for connection to share our emotional state?

We reach for the device… To connect around a shared moment.

You’re Live Event Audiences

In theory, there are three standard types of audience for televised live events, the at-home audience, the at-mini-event audience and the at-home audience.

Each of these audiences is in varying states of experience and connection.  The guys at the event are experiencing it truly live.  The guys at a mini-event may not be experiencing it live but are engaged in their own shared experience around the event.  The guys at-home may be alone or with fewer people in a normal TV viewing situation.

Which audience has the highest driver for connection?

The at-home audience.  These are the people with the least connectivity and therefore the highest likelihood to connect on a second screen.

The at-event and at-mini-event audiences have a shared moment, at the moment, with the group around them.  It’s not to say that these audiences don’t share content during live events, they do, to show their experience (experience is the new cultural capital after all).  But, they’re not exactly the people consuming content.

This has massive ramifications for live event content creators, as the at-home audience (and event the at-mini-event audiences) are the ones forgotten about by brands and sponsors, in my opinion.

Know Your Sector Behaviour

So, we now know that second screening is totally possible, it actually helps some people better understand what’s going on and is and engagement is a based on a need for connection to share our emotional state.  We also know that the audience in the most need to connect is the at-home audience with the highest need to connect around shared experiences.

What we need to know now is what behaviours they display around the event.  What trigger points induce the need to connect?

This is the part where we need the data.  For the event last week, we analysed football conversations during the matches.  The England v Wales match analysis highlighted that the trigger points are around goals and free kicks.  It’s the anticipation and the ecstasy of scoring that are major shared drivers of social cognition that encourage TV viewers to connect.


[Source: Brandwatch]


There are also other points not covered by this main analysis because they didn’t happen.  Take the World Cup in 2014, do you know what drove the highest level of conversation?  The Suarez biting incident at almost 2.8 million mentions.

Other triggers for connection are around unexpected or shocking moments.  Take the analysis of the England v Poland match, the rise in conversation when it was really known that England was going to lose.


[Source: Brandwatch]

Know Your Audience

The rise of social media command centres around live events has been huge over the last few years. I’m sure we all remember the Oreo meme at the Super Bowl in 2013.


[Source: Econsultancy]


That content went viral, but I’ve been racking my brains to find another piece of brand content that had the same success around live events.  If you can think of some, please send them across!

I’m of the opinion that the command centres are a good idea but in the planning, they are not going deep enough into customer behaviour to get traction and engagement with the audiences.

Going back to football, the research found that there are three types of at-home football audience.  The Adrenaline Junkies, The Broadcasters and The Connectors.  Each of these audiences, while they have the same trigger points, as discussed above, they have very different content needs.

#1 The Adrenaline Junkies

This micro audience is looking for the rush of big moments in real-time and to feel the roar of the crowd.  For this audience, you need to give them ways to participate in the energy and rituals of the stadium and make fan-to-fan communication more dynamic and visual.

#2 The Broadcasters

This micro audience wants to be the first to broadcast cool content and have their voice heard.  They want to push entertaining and inspirational content out to their networks.

Brands should consider, making credible content easy to access and making interaction quick and sharing seamless.  This will take a lot of planning but for increased engagement will be worth it!

#3 The Connectors

This micro audience uses ‘common language’ around the event to build social connections out in the world, away from the TV.  These guys want to be armed with information for social situations.

Brands should consider making it easy to find and collect snackable facts, stats and trivia.  They could partner with content creators to create more relevant information in engaging was – influencers anyone?

Opportunities for Brands and Sponsors

If bands and sponsors took the time to understand the trigger points and content needs, they’re sponsorship activation, and social engagement would be much, much better.

The opportunities for brands comes in knowing the audience and their triggers and different needs for connection.  Brands and sponsors are not the main attraction at these events, they are secondary and possibly less than secondary.  We don’t watch the show, the broadcast or event because of the sponsor.

This means that to authentically engage and grab, provoke and convert our attention around the event, brands and sponsors must understand at which points they can authentically engage with us and with what type of content.  They are not all going to get the Oreo Superbowl moment but with the right content for the right micro-audience, they can increase engagement, recognition and positivity; they can have a larger share of the live event engagement pie.

But this is all in the upfront analysis.  If brands and sponsors only took more time to analyse up front the success of the campaigns would go so much better and be so much more diverse!


What’s your thoughts, do you think that trigger and content need analysis would help your brand?  Need some analysis to find the key trigger points for your audience?

The full presentation….