Social Media and the Super Bowl: A Brief History
Can you guess how many people watched the Super Bowl last year? 10 million? 50 million? 100 million? None of the above.
That’s how many people watched last year’s Super Bowl. 108 million! That’s over 1.5% of the entire population of the earth.
Regardless of whether you live in New York or New Delhi, the Super Bowl is an event not-to-be missed. With so many eyes fixated on this one event, the opportunities for guerrilla social media marketing are great!
This Sunday, (unless it gets snowed out) we will witness Super Bowl XLVIII, where The Denver Broncos will face off against The Seattle Seahawks. It is projected that this year, 111.3 million people will tune in. The differences between “traditional” TV advertising and social media marketing are perfectly exemplified in the case of the Super Bowl.
A single 30-second TV spot will run a company upwards of $4 million. Social media, as we all know, is essentially free. If ever there was an argument for a company – regardless of its industry, to invest in social media marketing during a certain time, the top choice would be the Super Bowl. In fact, people often watch the Super Bowl just to see the ads – a phenomenon I don’t think you will see occur for any other event.
Given the massive viewership of the Super Bowl, the opportunity for social media marketing is immense – both for B2B and B2C. Given that such a large sample of the population will be watching, chances are your target audience will be among the viewers.Oktopost, for example, is a B2B company that offers a platform for B2B social media marketing. In other words, you could call us a B2B 2 B2B. You better bet that we (I) will be taking advantage of the Super Bowl this year, and posting relevant tweets and Facebook posts throughout the event. Even though we aren’t selling any sort of tchotchkes , I know our target audience will be tuning in and, as a marketer, I have to use this unique opportunity to reach them.
Here are a few examples of how clever social media marketers have taken advantage of the Super Bowl over the years:
2013 – The Blackout Bowl
Super Bowl XLVII was one for the ages. Aside from the high energy game-play and the nail biting finish, a major blackout caused a stoppage of play for an entire 34 minutes. During this time, there were a few clever social media marketers who thought fast, and took advantage of the situation.
This was a perfect example of why social media is an integral part of any marketing mix – it happens in real time, just like life
Here are how a few brands capitalized on this spontaneous event:
Arguably the most innovative social media campaign ever. Oreo was the first brand to realize the potential of the 34-minute black out. In only a few minutes, the company put together a clever graphic.
The brand tweeted an image titled “Power out? No Problem,” The image and showed a dimly lit scene, with an Oreo and a caption that read, “You can still dunk in the dark.” The company had the foresight to have a full team of copywriters and designers on hand, which allowed them to strategize and release this image within 10 minutes of the blackout
Piggybacking on Oreo’s idea, Tide also released a graphic on social media that capitalized on the blackout. About 20 minutes after Oreo’s tweet, the ad-wizards at Tide released an image of their own with an extremely clever tagline.
Taking what Tide and Oreo did one step further, Calvin Klein put together a short video clip which they made using Vine, and tweeted it. This strategy was not only a great way to take advantage of the blackout; it was also one of the first really successful uses of Vine, which was relatively new at the time.
2012 – The First Social Media Super Bowl
The 2012 Super Bowl was a special game for this writer, since it was his team that came out victorious (Go Giants!). Super Bowl XLVI was dubbed the first “social media” Super Bowl, and it has set the stage for how marketers think about large events with high viewership. Marketers took the time to plan their strategy, and when it came to game day, they were able to capitalize on many aspects of the game – as well as the commercials.
The companies who had paid for commercials that aired during the event carried out most of the social media marketing activities. According to research conducted by Coca-Cola prior to the game, 60% of all viewers would have a second “screen” open during the game. Given these statistics, the 2012 Super Bowl was a watershed moment for the way social media is used for marketing.
Will people keep track of Twitter as much as they do the commercials during future Super Bowls? I am fairly confident that we will see some amazing developments in the way social media marketers tap into the potential of the Super Bowl in the coming years.
Chevrolet, for example, used their commercial spot to allow viewers to interact socially by answering trivia questions on a free app, and then share it on Twitter. This was an innovative idea that will most certainly be used in the future.
2011 – Social Media Dips It’s Toes
Super Bowl XLV was really the first time social media was introduced into companies’ marketing mix during the event. By today’s standards, the tactics used then were rudimentary, but the fact that they were used at all marked a monumental shift in how social media is leveraged.
One example of how social media marketers dipped their toes into the water during the Super Bowl was the inclusion of hashtags in commercials. This practice is commonplace today, not only during the Super Bowl, but on television shows at large The idea of putting a hashtag in a commercial is to motivate viewers to engage in a conversation about the commercial and product.
So this Sunday, along with your chips and beer, make sure you have your computer open, and keep an eye on your social channels – you are sure to see some innovative marketing tactics!
Do you have any plans for innovative Super Bowl related social media activities this Sunday?
Mark is a marketing guru with years of experience in the world of startups and social media. He has a BA in Psychology from Boston University and an MBA from Florida Atlantic University. Mark joined the team in late 2013 and has helped take Oktopost's marketing activities to a new level.
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