ImageWould you spend $4 Million to reach over 100-million people for thirty seconds? Well, if you had that kind of money you could’ve bought a spot during the Super Bowl, which makes the average Super Bowl viewer worth twice as much as the average television viewer. This hefty price tag means that companies are trying to get the most bang for their advertising buck. Enter social media – a massive, largely free-to-use platform from which the world’s biggest and best advertisers can endear themselves to millions. America’s once-annual love affair with advertising has now become a month-long media circus, largely due to social, as it allows marketers to reach their audience like never before. And while the din of marketing buzz can be overwhelming, small-time marketers can learn a lot from how the big names leverage social to support their campaigns. 

Fostering Engagement

Major companies – the ones with the kind of money needed to buy ad time during the super bowl - are already recognizable. Everyone knows Volkswagen, Budweiser, and Oreo, and for the most part these companies aren’t aiming for new audiences. They are aiming to create the sort of brand evangelism necessary to stand out in a world disenfranchised by ads. For the most part, television advertising has stagnated, so marketers need another way to reach people. Last year, engagement spiked in the week leading up to, and especially on, the day of the big game. That means people actually sought out and interacted with the brand’s social presence. That is exactly what marketers want to see, people willing to take time out of their day to engage a brand, even if it’s only a quick retweet or a shared post on Facebook, because, as a study on Bazaarvoice.com revealed, people trust people way more than they trust advertisers. 

Encouraging Chatter

Chatter and conversation are extremely important for the staying power of a campaign. Having a campaign go viral is the dream – that means morning news shows running your ads, online media outlets giving your brand extra shout outs in their roundups from the evening, and people emailing YouTube links to their friends and family. Chatter leads to attention, and attention leads to a successful campaign. Marketers know this, which is why we are seeing teasers for ads posted through social media. A handful of big brands like M&M and Audi have recently released teasers - largely through YouTube and their social channels – and have effectively turned their thirty-second spot into a major event. While teasers allow marketers to track initial response and estimate how much of an impact their ad will make, they also help build suspense of the full-length commercial to come and ensure viewers keep their eyes peeled for their brand’s spot during the big game.

Building the Campaign

All of this build-up, of course, is leading to a wider social campaign, complete with hashtags, tracking, ROI numbers, and an end goal of making as big of a splash as possible. Hootsuite is even hosting a HashTag Bowl to help track all of the concurrent campaigns during the big game. Chatter and engagement tends to rise as the game progresses, so monitoring these social feeds as the day wears on will be key. The last thing these businesses want is their hashtag getting hijacked by disaffected viewers upset that the company is treating social media like a one-way street.

There are always winners and losers in the world of Super Bowl advertising, but social media did prove itself last year to be a great way to both boost purchase-intentions and engage with an otherwise disconnected audience. The best takeaway from the big game night is that a business doesn’t need to have a Super Bowl budget in order to learn a thing or two from the social marketing campaigns. These campaigns are effectively a multi-pronged marketing approach built around a shared cultural event – a strategy any business with a social presence can adopt. Brewing excitement and fostering engagement can be done on the macro and micro levels. Engage your audience by building a campaign around a shared experience or event, and you’ll effectively be doing the same thing as the biggest companies in the world during the Super Bowl, minus the $4 Million price tag.