The Air Typewriter: Britains Got More Talent & An Experiment In Social Media Monitoring
Last week (one week before the live semi finals started), my friend and work colleague Jonathan Stidwill had the (some would say dubious) distinction of appearing on the television on ITV2's Britains Got More Talent programme. Having audition with over 60,000 other people at the pre-screening auditions, Jonathan was selected to go through to the live shows, putting him in the top 1% of those who auditioned. Some may not be aware that only a small fraction of people who audition for such shows ever end up in front of Simon Cowell or the other celebrity judges but that's how it works.
Jonathan's act was quite a unique one (for lack of a better expression) entitled The Air Typewriter. I think rather than try and explain it, you should all just watch the clip from Britain's Got More Talent below:
Well aware that his performance was likely to elicit a multitude of different opinions, I'd already warned him I was going to monitor Twitter for feedback if and when he appeared on the TV. So I decided to follow a couple of searches. The #BGMT (the "official" hashtag for the show) search had new tweets on such a rapid basis that it was difficult to follow or pick out noteworthy ones, however the search for "air typewriter" (without a hashtag) was somewhat easier to digest.
To be perfectly honest, I was expecting the majority of comments to be negative ones. And don't get me wrong, there were a fair few negative comments, such as these:
However, as a very pleasant surprise, the majority of comments (I'd estimate at least 65-70%) were positive. Here's a few examples:
Lastly, I did manage to get a rather nice screen capture that perfectly sums up the wide range of opinions on this subject, please see the last screenshot below:
Apart from this being a bit of fun (and it was nice to know that the entire Internet wasn't indulging in "live update heckling" of one of my friends), there's a few important lessons to be learned from such an activity as this:
- Monitoring opinion of your show/art/brand/company (delete as appropriate) on social media can be very worthwhile. Whilst opinions on social media can be taken with a pinch of salt at times, if doing something like a live search at the time of a product launch shows you an overwhelming reaction one way or the other, that might give you an idea of whether you're getting it right or not.
- Any chatter is better than no chatter: The old adage that all publicity is good publicity still applies here, albeit in a slightly different form. If people are talking about whatever you're offering, they've got an opinion. A bad opinion is better than no opinion at all because it shows a person or people have invested time in the subject in question, even if its a few seconds. If there's a lot of people out there who don't like what you're doing, try to engage with them to find out how you can turn it round (though there will always be some people who are never happy unless they're unhappy and complaining about something!).
- The public will not always interpret things in the expected fashion. I thought more people would dislike Jonathan's performance than enjoy it. From the sample of those who were putting (voluntary) feedback about it online, I got it wrong - very happily so from my point of view. But it proves that people may not interpret things the way you expect, or even want them to. So monitoring feedback is extremely important.
I guess ultimately what I'm saying is take the time to investigate and care about online opinion of whatever you're involved in. It sounds so basic but so many people and companies don't do it and it could make a real difference.
*Small shameless plug* For those interested, I do all sorts of SEO work over at my freelance business FiveRDesign. This is the first time I've done a live social media monitoring experiment but I'd be happy to do more in the future if people are interested (either solo or as part of an SEO campaign).
P.S. For more information on Jonathan and the adventures of The Air Typewriter, please visit the official website at AirTypewriter.com.