Use of social media to support live events has grown rapidly, even over the past year. An excellent example of this is the Superbowl, with 24.1 million related tweets in 2013 during the event compared to a mere 13.7 million in 2012. It is a real world example of how social media is increasingly becoming a medium for people to communicate worldwide during a live event.
I think the most important use of this is that it helps to build a community around an event as it takes place. According to Lisa Harris, people can interact and it ‘allows people to make connections and curate what was going on in different rooms, in real time’, this is especially relevant for example at a conference if everyone is using twitter hashtags. It allows them to communicate together and follow each other as they will inevitably share interests and be able to develop an online relationship.
Another opportunity is that it helps to build an archive of social media which can be used for anything from just keeping a record, to visualising it for analysis and you can use it to figure out trend.
In the same way that use of social media during live event has its advantages there are also some downsides. For example, it was argued by the SMiLE (Social Media in Live Events) project that use of social media during an event is a distraction materialising in one of two major ways. Firstly, live tweeting throughout an event could mean that the tweeters are so busy focusing on their wording and hash-tagging that they miss out on the actual event unfolding in front of them. As well as this, it can be hugely distracting for a speaker if he is talking at a conference and a large proportion of the audience are clicking away on their phones or laptops.
Another constraint of social media use in this way is that it can be very time consuming and difficult to set up, for example live streams of a conference. However, the benefits of being able to broadcast a conference worldwide on the internet far outweigh the detriment of the difficulties in setting it up.