Can #Eurovision Win Over Europe for Twitter?

Last year over 5 million Tweets were sent about Eurovision, and as we head towards the song contest's finale this Saturday Twitter is pulling out all the stops to top that.

Rolling out across Europe this week are a full set of 40 Eurovision Hashflags, one for each competing country. The flag icons had previously been limited to major sporting events such as the 2014 World Cup and the recent General Election.

Last year's winner Conchita Wurst announced the launch and encouraged fans to pledge their allegiance in a Tweet.

Triggered when users Tweet three letter abbreviations of the competing countries (e.g #GBR, #RUS, #ESP) the flags will not only drive conversation on the platform but also help drive visibility of Twitter across Europe, as the tags are also shown live on air.

For Twitter, which has struggled to drive heavy mainstream adoption in much of mainland Europe, this exposure to as many as 200 million people could prove invaluable in getting new users to test out the platform. A slowdown in user growth has been a consistent challenge in their quarterly earnings since going public but previous events such as the Olympics and World Cup have been catalysts for spikes in adoption as people turn to Twitter for the inside track on events.

The official Eurovision Twitter account drove the conversation during the first semi-final with native video highlight clips released just seconds after the action happened on TV. The move is reminiscent of the 'Amplify' activities Twitter has helped drive around major sporting events in the US, and could present an opportunity to marketers in the future.

More than 30 clips, lasting from just a few seconds to over a minute, were shared during the course of the live broadcast with thousands of retweets sharing them beyond the account's 200k followers.

Although the semi-final shows attract only a fraction of the Saturday night audience early indications are that Twitter's push has been a success - whilst the #Eurovision2015 hashtag was the top trending topic in the UK, clicking on it revealed a stream unusually dominated by a wide range of European languages.

There were no main surprises in the first semi-final with predictable acts sailing through. Finland's unusual entry, formed via a charity for mental disabilities, was the only potential favourite to fall short, whilst Europe will certainly be worse off without Moldova's incredibly over the top, and leather policeman filled, performance.

Whilst the #Eurovision2015 hashtag was the top trending topic in the UK with over 500k tweets.

Jerry Daykin is the global digital director for Mondelez at Carat/Dentsu Aegis Network

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