Because the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards were the first of the Twitter era, MTV had to take a unique approach to the micro-blogging service during the broadcast.
Video blogger Justine Ezarik — known to the Internet world as iJustine — came onboard to be our Twitter correspondent, and with the help of some fresh technology, she was able to track and respond to the Twitter trends in real time. Once the show wrapped, the Tweet Tracker was made available on the VMA Web site so fans could see for themselves exactly what was popping when.
The experiment paid off, as 1.3 million VMA-related tweets were unleashed between the time the show started and when it wrapped Sunday night. By Monday morning, the number had ballooned to 2 million. The numbers were unprecedented for Twitter. "During the VMAs, Twitter experienced three times our average volume of tweets," Twitter's Chloe Sladden said. "[It was] twice as many as during the news surrounding Michael Jackson this past summer."
Twitter became a huge part of the show, as the tweet volume was both instantaneous and gigantic, but the service also allowed stars — many of whom were actually inside Radio City Music Hall — to shape the narrative of the evening. So when Kanye West bum-rushed Taylor Swift's acceptance speech, Katy Perry, Pink and Paramore's Hayley Williams (among others) were able to weigh in instantly.
The whole Twitter-centric approach made the VMAs compelling television not only from a performance approach, but also from an interactive one. "The unique level of viewer engagement MTV was able to inspire during the VMAs was impressive," Sladden added. "We think Twitter can be the way television becomes more interactive, and MTV is showing us the way."
The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards might have wrapped, but the party is far from over. Stay tuned for behind-the-scenes updates, party reports and much more.