The technology community in Georgia experienced a new kind of March Madness this year when the Technology Association of Georgia tapped 16 prominent community members to face off in a bracketed Twitter competition modeled after the National Collegiate Athletic Association's annual basketball tournament.
The promotion was part of an effort to drive traffic to TAG's annual “State of the Industry Report,” a free resource available at tagstateoftheindustry.com. The report brings together data mined from disparate sources, including the census, the companies that make up Georgia's technology sector and surveys of TAG's member database.
“It got kind of heated,” said Rory Carlton, a principal at Arketi Group, an Atlanta-based agency that developed the promotion for TAG. “The whole point was to capitalize on March Madness, which was taking place at the time in Atlanta. We wanted to have something fun and approachable.”
Competitors rallied their followers to retweet messages that included links to the report. A competition website tracked the number of retweets of each original message, posting results in near-real time as participants climbed in the bracketed competition.
In the end, a Georgia businessman who doubles as an Internet radio personality edged out an account tied to a Georgia university to take the top honor. The Twitter tournament generated 3,000 tweets and retweets, helping the association reach such new demographics as students. More than 2,000 unique visitors linked to the report website from Twitter during the two-week competition.
“A lot of people found out about the existence of the report via our Tweet Tournament,” said Melanie Brandt, COO of TAG. “This got it out to a broader audience.”
The association also worked with Arketi to redesign the website housing the report, creating a new interactive design that boosted time spent with report materials. The Web interface allows visitors to quickly find and organize data relevant to their interests. The mobile-optimized site leverages an open-source content management system. Visitors can choose a user category with a preset dashboard, then can customize content widgets on the grid.
The association released the report at its Georgia Technology Summit in March, distributing an executive summary to 1,200 attendees. Its partners and sponsors promoted the report, and the association teased facts in email messages to its own 20,000-member database.
The marketing efforts, combined with the new user interface, helped the 2013 report trump the performance of earlier reports, Brandt said. The number of unique visitors in the month after the March release of the report climbed 85% compared to the same period last year, while page views rose 16%. Moreover, visitors stayed on the website longer than they had in the past and returned to the site more frequently.