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What's the Event?

On Sunday 16th March 2014 at 13:30 on Sky Sports, you will see Manchester United embrace Google+ hangout technology as they give fans from around the world front row seats – quite literally – for the match against arch rivals Liverpool.

How so? Following a competition on Manchester United’s Google+ page, live video images of 20 winning fans, who’ll be watching the game from their homes, will be beamed onto the digital advertising display boards that surround the Old Trafford pitch.

To see what this is all about, watch this short one minute video:

How Could You Enter?

When you visited the Google+ Manchester United page (before the match) you were guided through exactly what you needed to do to take part in this event and have a chance to be selected to appear on the front row.

Basically, by the closing date of 5th March, in order to enter fans had to take one photograph of themselves which demonstrated their support for and commitment to Manchester United FC. The photograph needed to be uploaded on Google+ and include the hashtag #mufrontrow. Judges would then select 20 winners.

What's the Buzz?

News of this event spread rapidly through Google Plus, appealing to both fans and social media experts because of the creativity in using Google+ Hangout technology to engage this huge global brand with individual fans. The event is likely to generate a lot of questions, particularly in relation to HOW Manchester United have implemented the event. The image below shows the ripples of one post promoting the Front Row event on Google+. Each of the spots represents a share of the original post, and Google+ provides details of exactly who shared the post when and where. It’s quite fascinating to have this kind of insight within a social platform and so far this is unique to Google+. 

Note: to see the ripples yourself go to the original post (this only works on desktops and not on mobile devices), click on the ‘options menu’ which appears when you hover over the top right hand corner of any individual post. Then choose ‘view ripples’, which will show you all the details of the re-shares, which in this case is over 1,000. 

What About the Prize?

Each of the 20 winners will be given the opportunity to feature in a live video stream via a Google+ hangout (“Live Stream”), which will be displayed on Manchester United’s LED banner advertising system during the Manchester United v Liverpool Premier League match. It is specified that the duration and location of each Live Stream on the digital boards is at Man. United’s absolute discretion.

The Rules

You can read the Full Terms & Conditions yourself but the interesting extracts are: 

  • participants have to take part in a trial in advance of the Match Day to check they have the necessary technical requirements
  • there can be no product placement, no extraneous people (only the winner), no rude gestures, no smoking or drinking alcohol
  • In the event of any rule breaking they will be cut off the live stream
  • winners basically have to agree to be used in any and all promotional material forever more

What Will the Outcome Be?

It’s quite exciting to see such a creative adoption of Google+ hangout technology by this massive brand, and on mainstream TV (well, Sky here in the UK), which will give exposure to hundreds of millions of eyeballs across the globe (yes, hundreds of millions – these games have an estimated global audience of half a billion) and raise lots of questions about what exactly is going on. It’s exciting to me for lots of reasons: 

  • Hangout technology is free and available to any brand or individual who wants to get creative with it
  • Google+ will get exposure to potentially hundreds of millions of people, many of whom will want to know more about it
  • It’s social engagement as we have never seen it before

I am particularly interested to hear the discussions on match day to see how the event is explained in a way that makes it easy to understand what is happening. 

I will certainly be watching. Will you?

If you are interested in knowing more about Google+ read 10 reasons why google plus is essential for your business in 2014.

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