“Social Medialise” & Commercialize - Twitter, Facebook & The Melbourne Marathon

I don’t know how I made it or why I even decided to get up at 7am this morning but I did and went to the @socialmelb breakfast at Mr. Tulk in the State Library, Melbourne, Victoria, Austalia, Planet Earth.
I ordered a coffee from the also half asleep staff and went to the big table to meet & greet nice people and get my day started. One of these guys was Angie Hanke who asked me (before I had my first coffee) how I would use twitter for an event like a marathon. I probably seemed to be quite German unfriendly (sorry, I was just not on my awake coffeine level) and needed 5 minutes to wake up, think, waking up again and then I and came up with the idea which I quickly had to write down below:

Ingredients to “Social Medialise” a Marathon

Melbourne Marathon, running crazyness
Picture of this years Melbourne Marathon

To “socialize” a marathon / sports event (not that these have ever been social before..) with public social media participation we need:

  1. Twitter
  2. Facebook
  3. RFID chips
  4. Digital cameras
  5. RFID checkpoints
  6. (bonus) GoogleMaps
  7. People.(!sic)

Assuming we are creating this for the Melbourne Marathon and we have the above ingredients we would do this with each item:

  1. Twitter
    When registering for the event you can either enter your twittername or you will get automatically one.
    Features of Twitter we will use

    • Update the current status of a user
    • ReTweet (like forwarding a text message) the status to friends
    • Status update connector to Facebook
  2. Facebook
    The event needs to have a Fanpage and people can become fan of it and participate in the announced event. We assume here that the runner or at least people who are related to them already are using Facebook.
    Features of Facebook we will use

    • Invitation to participate in the event (online or offline)
    • An image gallery
    • The tagging functionality to tag people on images in the gallery
  3. RFID chips
    Those chips are already in use at current marathons and send back the race number and time of participants at each checkpoint.
    Features of RFID chips we will use

    • Retrieving the race number
    • Retrieving the time
  4. Digital cameras
    They take pictures of the participants. (surprising, I know!)
    Features of Digital cameras we will use

    • Taking pictures of the runners in high resolution
  5. RFID checkpoints
    They save the current time at each checkpoint for a runner based on the RFID chip who sends back the runners race numer and stores it in the server.
    Features of RFID checkpointswe will use

    • Saving the data as time & runner ID to a server
    • Sending back status (location, time) for further usage
  6. Google Maps
    Google Maps will be used to show the current Marathon race track.
    Features of Google Maps we will use

    • Showing the race track
    • Showing the current position of a runner
    • Using the image feature to assign images to this place
  7. People - And what do they do & get out of it?
    Of course we will have
    • runners AND
    • friends & family of runners AND
    • people interested in doing the same marathon next time OR
    • people interested in following the event allover the world

How do we bring this together?

First of all every participant will have a twittername and have it connected to their race number or they get an automatically assigned twittername which could be @MelbMa_12345. This stands for “Melbourne Marathon” and the runners number so they can still sign in later and connect with their friends using twitter after signing up or doing the race. (Plus they always can change their twittername in their options to get a personal name so this is a re-usable account).
Every runner will have a RFID chip to submit time & ID when they pass a checkpoint. The checkpoints are where the magic happens. They are connected to the cameras. By the time a runner passes an checkpoint the following actions will take place:

  • The camera takes a picture and the picture gets a watermark (event logo and event website URL)
  • The picture get send to Facebook
  • The twitter account will automatically update it’s status, this contains
    • Time
    • Name
    • A link to the Facebook fanpage gallery of the current image
    • A link to the current location on Google Maps
    • Call to action - “Tag me on Facebook!”
  • Friends, family and people allover the world can now either
    • click the link in the tweet OR
    • look at the pictures on Facebook OR
    • see the current location on Google Maps with integrated live images

On Facebook by “tagging” people on the pictures these will show up on their profiles and drive attention & traffic to the event by connecting people on an individually and hence social level. Maybe Of course they need some motivation and so everybody who tags a friend (or later on tags themselves after completing the race) will enter a draw and can win a trip for two to beautiful Greece (the original birthplace of Marathon and such crazy stuff).
Dan The Man on Facebook
Example of Dan The Man on Facebook

On Twitter people can actually send images around and ReTweet (forward) those messages of their friends as in “Look what our crazy friend is doing RIGHT NOW!”)

On Google Maps people can send this link around and have the current position and the integrated image on the map.

Let’s talk shop!

Awesome! We bring a lot of people together and allow them to collaborate almost in real time. We make a lot of people happy. What is in for the event organizer?

What’s the outcome - short term?

  • The whole event becomes more personal and hence more concious and people actually connect and talk about your event and connect to your advertised brands / sponsors
  • Live tracking for runner data will cause more attention off track at time
  • A massive wave of data which will be send out and create “crowd sourced publicity”(wow!) not only nationwide but worldwide (double wow!)

What’s the outcome - long term?

  • The photos will remain on facebook and people will always be able to re-connect with the event - they don’t get outdated!
  • Data can be used and compared in next years marathon to have a pace for the own race (and to see if you were huffing and puffing at kilometer 26 or fine at kilometer 39).

Gadgets - A dashboard created to play some number games & more

  • Average runner speed
  • Time until finish line will be reached with the current average pace
  • Next 5 people before and after this person
  • Compare pictures of people at kilometer 5,10,15,20,25,..
  • Number of people supporting/following a specific runner

And of course you can use this for a triathlon too…
And of course you can use this for a triathlon too…

Using existing functionalities and combining them with real live data a local Marathon event can become a worldwide event with incredibly close public interest and big buzz around each individual. People will forward your event pictures for you and make your brand more public by personally giving a recommendation.

What would you use twitter for in real life? And what do you think about the above?

About me today

Most of the time I develop websites and consult our clients ar Areeba and I run a CMS developer and ECM customer CommunityBlog with others. This makes me use and think about social media. I like reading, snowboarding, talking and especially thinking with others. Thanks to @Angie_hanke who made me think about the above this morning. A great start for a Friday or any day :)

Image Credits:
- Thanks to @alborns and @dcsign for the triathlon images (which I used for a marathon example…)

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
“Social Medialise” & Commercialize - Twitter, Facebook & The Melbourne Marathon by Markus Giesen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License.
Based on a work at blog.markusgiesen.de.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.markusgiesen.de.

In short: You are not allowed to use my ideas here commercially, unless you have my permission.

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2 Reaktionen zu ““Social Medialise” & Commercialize - Twitter, Facebook & The Melbourne Marathon”

  1. Daniel Kasimirowicz

    Hi Markus,

    it’s just 7am here, too and I like reading and thinking about your article on my way to office, espacially because the two things running and programming are important for me, too. My coffeine level is not high enough this early so I’ll continue in German.

    Das ist ein sehr interessante Idee, aber ich habe kein Gefühl dafür wie gut es in Wirklichkeit ankommt. Denn wenn weder ich noch einer meiner Freunde bei dem Marathon unterwegs ist, habe ich kaum Veranlassung mir tausende schwitzender Leute anzuschauen. Da müßte es schon eine Best-of-Vorauswahl der Fotos geben und die wird automatisch nicht hinzubekommen sein. Wenn ich jetzt mitlaufe, hoffe ich natürlich, dass meine Leute an der Strecke sind und mich anfeuern. Und mobil im Internet sind die (noch) nicht. Nach dem Event Fotos zu sehen ist natürlich schön, aber da gibt es ja heute Lösungen (www.marathon-photos.com)

    Halte uns bitte auf dem Laufenden, ob das hier eine Freitagmorgen-7-Uhr-Idee bleibt, oder ob es real life social media wird.

    Schöne Grüße

    Daniel K.