Super Bowl Social Media Volunteers Score Big


One of the most advanced sports communication projects in recent history included a driving force of college students and PRSSA members.  During the 2012 Super Bowl, social media command center volunteers included students from Ball State University, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis, Butler University and Campbellsville University.

Social Media Monitoring Wall at Super Bowl
Tweets were mapped and analyzed for sentiment and organized by keywords. Photo courtesy Gerry James.

PRSSA members Sarah Janiga, of Ball State University, and Gerry James, of Campbellsville University, shared key lessons they learned along the way:

1. Take Opportunities When They Come

According to Twitter, an average of 10,000 tweets were posted per second during the final three minutes of Super Bowl XLVI. For social media fans, the buzz began in 2010 when the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee contacted Raidious, a digital content marketing firm, to create a strategic digital plan for the committee. Ryan Smith, president of production, said Raidious monitored the Internet, reviewed what was done during the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas and drafted ways to engage more fans via social media in 2012.

2. Learn Fast

We used a social media interface like Tweetdeck to pinpoint tweets originating from the downtown Indianapolis area using Twitter search terms such as “#SB46,” “bathrooms,” “hot dogs,” “zipline” andweather.” Volunteers and staff collectively monitored 500 keywords for more than 1,130 hours. One of the most active keywords was “parking.” For people looking for parking, we would recommend a response like, “Check out this interactive parking map. Have a super day!” Those suggestions then went to a Raidious staff member for edits. We also approved videos and photos taken by visitors to Super Bowl Village. Each day, there were more than 900 guest experiences recorded and uploaded to the Host Committee’s YouTube and Flickr pages.

3. If You See a Problem, Offer Ways To Fix It

When the staff at Raidious told us they were short volunteers, we didn’t waste any time to make sure those shifts were covered. We made calls to friends in the Midwest who were experienced in social media and asked them to help. If you have an opportunity to help your employer and your professional contact, you should do it; everyone benefits.

4. Be Passionate

Raidious made us feel like valuable members of the team. Even when not working, we would log on to Tweetdeck to help people find information. Gerry even had the chance to expand his photography portfolio using the firm’s Nikon 3100, which is one of the best cameras in the market.

5. Have Fun

Despite working long hours, Raidious provided us with plenty of opportunities to take part in Super Bowl events. At the J.W. Marriott Media Fan Gallery, Sarah met former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka. We both wandered around the Super Bowl Village and explored the NFL Experience at the Convention Center. While out filming footage about our experience in Indianapolis, we ran into Snoop Dogg and reporter Bob Costas. Several people came to visit the command center like NFL running back Arian Foster and Indy Star reporter Dana Hunsinger. One of the coolest parts of our experience was when we were featured on the Ochocinco News Network about our roles within the Super Bowl’s social media team.

If this all sounds like fun to you, don’t be sad it’s over. Can you say Super Bowl XLVII, New Orleans? Get involved. It will be “super!”

Did you tweet during this year’s Super Bowl? In what ways do you think social media influences or changes fans’ experiences during live events?

This is a guest post from Chapter members Sarah Janiga and Gerry James.

Sarah Janiga, of Ball State University, is a Ball State Daily News Social Media Editor, Cardinal Communications Account Executive and a Disney College Program Campus Representative. Her email is

Gerry James is the PRSSA President at Campbellsville University, a reserve member of the United States Air Force and a volunteer firefighter. His email is

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