How Twitter is Gearing Up for the World Cup

14 Jun How Twitter is Gearing Up for the World Cup

All of the sudden everything is about the World Cup.

(photo courtesy of TheOatmeal.com)

Across the globe soccer is the most popular sport, but what’s interesting to me about the whole event isn’t the athletics. I’m more interested in the social media, obviously, but not in the way you’d expect.

I’m not talking about hashtags or clever branding campaigns–I’m talking technology.

During the 2010 World Cup Twitter crashed. Repeatedly. The social network wasn’t prepared for the 150,000 tweets per hour that accompanied the largest sporting event in the world. In an effort to prevent the infamous Fail Whale showing up on computer screens and mobile devices across the globe, Twitter’s engineering department has been working tirelessly to prepare for the massive influx of traffic during each game.

In a Fast Company article Raffi Kirkorian, one of Twitter’s main engineers said, “I’ve been here just shy of five years, and I still have PTSD from the last World Cup at Twitter. When you come to my floor at Twitter headquarters, we have signs all over the floor with a countdown to the World Cup. Reliability is at the top of our minds, and reliability first is the mantra. Somewhere in the world, there is a sporting event, an election, or an earthquake.”

Kirkorian went on to discuss how Twitter has established itself as the real-time communication platform. While Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and other networks can afford to publish a post 30 seconds behind, Twitter fills the need for immediate updates. This asset is also a burden, as their biggest issues occur in real-time with little room for preparation.

I was interested to learn that in preparation of any major event, Twitter deploys a system of “shock absorbers” designed to only function when networks are incredibly busy. The social network also preforms tests to determine which of their servers works best for specific users across the globe.

While the complex background prep is noteworthy, I am more interested in the way Twitter is using their technology to create a new marketing and growth opportunity.

Twitter has incorporated new UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) touches like a World Cup Timeline where you can view tweets related to each game from people in your network or from teams, players, coaches, press, fans in the stadiums and celebrities. They have also created “HashFlags” that place a country’s flag next to their designated 3-letter hashtag.

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(photo courtesy of Twitter.com)

The tactic that I find most interesting is how Twitter changed their sign-up process to incorporate the World Cup team you’re supporting and tailor your profile and updates to that team.

Each of these strategies is a great way to attract and keep new twitter members, an especially important factor due to Twitter’s stock plunging from$70 last December to around $35 last week.

It will be interesting to see how Twitter’s updates and new strategies fare over the next few weeks. Will it make a difference? Will the influx of picture and video sharing overwhelm the system yet again?

Sally McHugh
smchugh@speakerboxpr.com
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