Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tweeting racers could raise profile of marathon in social media test Business First of Columbus

Backers of the Columbus Marathon are hoping to raise awareness of the race – and of Columbus itself – through a campaign centered on Twitter.

The Huber & Co. Interactive ad agency, whose clients include Columbus Marathon title sponsor Nationwide Better Health, wants participants to Tweet their running times at various checkpoints during the race. It’s hoping to persuade enough runners to do this, using the hashtag #cbusmarathon, that the event will rise into the top Tweeted topics for the day, showing up in Twitter’s running tally of trending topics on its Web site.

Hashtags help organize Tweets along themes, so anyone interested in the H1N1 virus, for example, can follow any missives with the hashtag #swineflu.

Huber’s effort aims to promote Columbus as a “truly innovative and leading city in the area of new media communications,” organizer Nate Riggs said in an e-mail to Columbus Business First.

Marathon participants won’t have to be staring at their Blackberries while running to participate. They’re already given shoe tags with microchips that automatically log their times, pace and locations in the race’s computers. Huber has been working the microchip provider to develop a Twitter application that will automatically take that incoming information and send it back out online through Twitter or Facebook.

Riggs figured that if 10 percent of the estimated 12,000 marathon participants takes part in the effort, the race could generate about 6,000 Tweets from the various checkpoints. Throw in spectators, organizers and others Tweeting using the #cbusmarathon hashtag and the event may get some national exposure, he said.

“Our hope is that with enough volume, #cbusmarathon will trend globally on Twitter for at least a few hours,” he said.

Anyone interested in participating can register at the Web site tweetmytime.com once it’s live closer to the Oct. 18 race.


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