Times Square Goes Digital for New Year's Eve

By Lauren Sleeper

The Times Square New Year's Eve "ball drop" is arguably the most famous celebration on December 31st nationwide.  With millions of people tuning in to the live broadcast, and an estimated one million people in attendance, it is one of America's favorite holiday pasttimes - and biggest party.  This year, the Times Square Alliance and some savvy sponsors are taking the party digital, and using social media channels to spread brand awareness through creative promotions and applications.

After inaugurating the tradition last year, livestream will be hosting a webcast that will allow revelers around the world to experience the festivities and interact throughout  the duration of the 6.5 hour celebration. Through the livestream chat function, viewers will be able to comment and interact while watching (commercial-free of course!) via Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, you can access the webcast on your mobile device, add a widget via an app to your Facebook page, or include a widget on your blog or website.

For the mobile app-loving New Year's Eve enthusiasts, Countdown Entertainment has released the Times Square Ball App.  This free application is available for iPhone and Android users and offers a customizable Times Square experience, wherever you may be.  App users can: submit photos to be voted on and displayed in One Times Square, send New Year's photos to friends and family, watch the event live, customize a countdown clock, have easy access to event information, and check-in via Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter to find out how far away you are from Times Square.

Foursquare is also doing its part to push the celebration to the social realm.  As an added incentive for checking-in, the Mayor of Times Square will win a holiday present to be envied.  The official contest rules state that the "reigning mayor at NOON (EST) on Wednesday, December 29th will win 2 tickets to the official New Year’s Eve VIP party - it’s the party thrown by the people throwing the big celebration!"  Well-done foursquare, well-done.

Even the formerly offline tradition of the New Year's Eve Wishing Wall in Times Square is going digital.  Every year, people flock to the Times Square Visitor's Center to leave their wishes on scraps of paper that will eventually carpet Times Square, along with one ton of confetti.  Now, your wish can also be dropped from the sky on December 31st, even if you can't make it to New York.  Simply fill out this survey, sponsored by Carnival Cruises, to include your wish!

For the masses that will be ascending on Times Square, American Eagle has partnered with SCVNGR on a New Year's program to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters.  The program was launched with a billboard in Times Square urging people to complete American Eagle and New Year's-centric challenges.  For every challenge completed, American Eagle will donate $5 to BBBS, which will then be matched by SCVNGR.

A number of other brands are hosting Times Square New Year's related promotions that are worth some attention.  Nivea asked long-distance couples to submit via Facebook the reasons why they should be able to "kiss the one they love" on New Year's, and of course petition others to vote for them.  The winners were announced December 29th, and were rewarded with a trip to New York City to watch the ball drop. While they're not giving away a trip, Jose Cuervo is also offering it's fans a way to "be" in Times Square, albeit digitally, on their massive electronic billboard.  Fans simply need to submit "epic party pics" on Cuervo's Facebook Pan Page for a chance to live in tequila-induced infamy.

And just for good measure, Facebook made sure they were one of the cool kids at the party with a billboard in Times Square urging people to check-in with Facebook places "just for fun" - no incentive attached.  Facebook did not actually pay for this placement, but rather received the spot due to a relationship with the Times Square Alliance.  Oh, to be Facebook.

Are you planning on using any of these digital options to help ring in the new year? What other New Year's promotions have caught your eye?