Wednesday 01 April 2015

Follow Me: The Search for the First MTV Twitter Jockey


MTV TweetLevel

The creation of an innovative social media monitoring tool, that help turned MTV’s search for a new ‘Twitter Jockey’ into what Time magazine described as, “one of the top 10 Twitter moments of 2010”.

MTV wanted to re-establish itself as the go-to point for 18-35 year olds, who were starting to find the channel’s broadcasting approach outdated, especially compared to the levels of interaction and engagement they were experiencing in social media.

The channel’s solution was to stage an ‘Apprentice-style’ reality show, to find their own social media correspondent – a ‘Twitter Jockey’ or ‘TJ.’ In the true spirit of Web 2.0, the identification and selection of MTV’s first TJ would be ‘crowd-sourced’ i.e. chosen from and by the MTV audience.

The Challenge

The difficulty MTV faced – and challenged the agency to solve – was how to create a fair way to evaluate the performance of each participant. Not only did the solution have to be fair but its methodology had to be transparent to create a winning score that matched the attributes of an MTV employee. MTV demanded a tool that would be 100% reliable and provide an accurate way to illustrate each contestant’s influence, as opposed to popularity, on Twitter.

The Strategic Solution

MTV TweetLevel


Working in partnership with Twitter and MTV, the agency created a unique tool that compiles Twitter data from over 30 sources and feeds the data through an algorithm to rank an individual according to four weightings:

  • Popularity (i.e. How many people follow you)
  • Influence (i.e. What you say is interesting, relevant and many people listen)
  • Engaged (i.e. You actively participate within your community)
  • Trusted (i.e. People believe what you say)

A website was created to allow people to identify their MTV TJ score, based on a real-time, weighted aggregate of the four ranking metrics listed above.

The Campaign Roll-Out

MTV TweetLevel

The Five Phase

The competition was rolled out as a five phase project.

Step 1: Validation of tool
To validate the algorithm, a list of all the celebrities on Twitter was published on the agency web site as the Celebrity Twitter Index – this produced global coverage including Sky News and CNN.

Step 2: Public Launch
Within 48 hours of launch, over 1 million data requests had been retrieved. Coverage of this new product was incredible – including PRNewswire stating that it was one of the five most important PR innovations of the year.

Step 3: MTV beta launch
Working in tandem with Amex (sponsor partner), Twitter (technology partner) and MTV, a customised version of TweetLevel was incorporated into Viacom’s network (parent company). For a six week period, the site was stress-tested to ensure there would be 100% reliability.

Step 4: Media launch
An integrated broadcast, online, on air, Facebook and Twitter campaign launched in June 2010 to huge acclaim.

TweetLevel was used firstly to narrow-down who the top 20 finalists should be, from the thousands who applied, to eliminate contestants and finally identify the winner.

Step 5: Competition launch
The campaign ran from July 7 2010 to August 9 2010 and culminated in Gabi Gregg winning the contest to become the first ever Twitter Jockey.

The Results

A few numbers…

  • The competition was a phenomenal success with TweetLevel providing instant results. Highlights of the campaign include:

    “MTV selected Edelman’s TweetLevel as our measurement tool because the four criteria it uses to evaluate people are the same principles we believe our first-ever TJ needs to have. TweetLevel also gives people handy tips for improving their scores, so we expect the rivalries to be fierce as the contestants compete against each other.” Dave Sirulnick, MTV Executive Vice President

MTV TweetLevel