Capturing #Linsanity: The value from Twitter traffic during live sports
High school basketball star goes unrecruited by major basketball schools; Becomes an Ivy League star at Harvard, but goes undrafted by NBA teams; Bounces from training camp to the bench to the D-League. In one hour Friday night, the New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin (@jlin7) became a Twitter superstar. The mighty New York Times took a look at the Twitter craze surrounding Lin. The paper also took a much larger look at everything surrounding the point guard, posting at least eight stories and blogs since Friday’s game ended (that’s in less than 24 hours).
Back to Twitter. As the Knicks closed out the Los Angeles Lakers Friday, 3 percent of all Tweets included Lin. Hashtag #Linsanity was included in another 0.3 percent of all Tweets. Two earlier big-time performances created a little buzz around Lin, but anywhere close to the Friday-night hype.
What does all this mean?
Major internet trends can come from anywhere, at any time. Brands must prepare and try to be as ready as possible. The Knicks were able to get a Linsanity landing page up quick. But can they capitalize through merchandise sales? According to The Times, no shop in the city has official merchandise. Look online for an official Lin jersey or T-shirt, and they are on backorder. And it’s a minimum 10-day to two-week reported wait. Coming from nowhere, could Linsanity be over by the time the goods are available? Or might this feel-good, underdog story continue?
Another thing: People aren’t just watching TV anymore. They are watching and commenting simultaneously. The Twitter stats show that very plainly. TV watching – especially sports – fundamentally now involves a second screen. Half those watching the Super Bowl planned to do so with a second device. One-third of the multi-million dollar commercials contained an online component. (Coke’s and Acura’s websites crashed). Tweets per second averaged 10,000 during the game. And during the final minutes, that number climbed even higher to 12,233. Total tweets topped 13 million. The traffic is now online during big events. But are organizations – news outlets, networks and brands – equipped to capture that valuable, engaged audience?
Right now, especially in sports, it’s individual journalists driving in-game conversation. Friday night, it was NBA and other sports reporters on Twitter leading the Lin conversation. That helps the reporters build their own brand, and hopefully their employers’ brand, but others don’t seem capable of capturing these instant event moments.
And one last thing. Here is the growth of followers for @jlin7. In less than a week, Lin added more than 150,000 followers and now his personal account tops the Knicks official feed, @nyknicks, in followers by a little.