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The Super Bowl of Social Media

Insights January 30, 2014


There’s no denying, social media has become an integral part of our generation. Chances are, your Instagram account is linked to your Twitter account, which posts tweets on your Facebook profile, which also links to your Vine account. We’ve all become so immersed in sharing and engaging our lives with one another; it would be silly if marketers didn’t take full advantage of this.

It appears they have

It’s very seldom you don’t see a #hashtag, an @mention or URL at the bottom of a brand’s commercial these days. With what appears to be an infectious component of our generation, adding social media mentions to commercial and even print ads has impacted a brand’s reach for campaigns in such a positive way.

The Super Bowl is an evident case of this. Companies pay millions of dollars for a 30-second slot to showcase their brand during the big game. Let’s face it; if you’re like me, you really only watch the game for the commercials. But with the help of social integration in these televised ads, do companies really get more bang for their buck? Will the price ultimately inflate for airtime in the near future if a brand wants to incorporate a social mention? Call me crazy, but I’d like to think there’s definitely a correlation between social media mentions and virality when user experience is continued past the half-minute ad.

Let’s take a look at last year’s results:

In a total of 64 commercial ads during Super Bowl XLVII, the final score of social media integration was:

Twitter: 26 Facebook: 4 Instagram: 1 YouTube: 1 Google+: 0

In Super Bowl XLVI, both Twitter and Facebook tied with just 8 mentions each. This shows about a 300% gain for Twitter, while Facebook dropped about 50% for the following year.

While Facebook dropped, the overall social usage showed an increase from 2012 to 2013, showcasing that second screen integration is becoming a huge player in a brand’s campaign. With Twitter being the front-runner and the well-known ‘conversational platform,’ brands now have the ability to track conversations and engage with their community in real time, ultimately extending the user experience past the Super Bowl.

Review of Play

Another beauty of Twitter specifically is it can reach a large audience and trend in a matter of minutes. Remember the blackout of Super Bowl XLVII? Oreo’s simple tweet made headlines:

In a matter of minutes, the brand had accounted for ~16 thousand retweets. On top of that, the brand posted the same picture to their Facebook page, accounting for ~20 thousand likes. Drops the mic.

Let’s kick off the second half here with a look at the highly anticipated commercials and the impact of social shares:

Within the ever-growing social media universe, shares have become a type of currency for e-marketers aside from the millions of dollars they put up for airtime. Extending user experience past the ad with social integration gives that extra push for further engagement with the brand. This becomes a segue for users to cross-promote for a brand on multiple platforms without necessarily knowing they’re doing it. Open the floodgates, this is like hitting the viral lottery.

Why not try to go for the 2-point conversion like these two teams have…

The most shared and popularly acclaimed Super Bowl ad of all time is Volkswagen’s “The Force” from 2012. This mini Darth Vader raked in a whopping 5.2 million shares. Sorry Luke, the force was definitely with Darth this time around.

Runner up is the unforgettable ad of Budweiser’s 9/11 Tribute in 2002. This minute and a half video aired only once but was shared 3.4 million times through bloggers, Facebook & Twitter.


We’re talking enormous numbers here, reaching millions and millions of people all through modern day “e-word of mouth.” Not only does it allow your brand to remain top of mind for your current followers, but with the help of social shares, your brand’s reach is broadened to other communities.

This leads me to call my final play: Teaser ads.

Looking to create buzz around your brand’s campaign? Well, statistics show 60% of the most shared ads were launched before Super Bowl Sunday. What is a more definitive way to frame brand recognition and create the ripple effect of viral content? Exactly.

Budweiser seems to grasp this “Pre-Super Bowl Sunday” idea really well. They released a Super Bowl ad this past Wednesday and it’s already making waves. The brand is notoriously known for its sappy Super Bowl commercials. Break out the tissues for this one – I’m looking at you tough guy.

Final Score

By no means does this piece intend to take away or devalue the commercial ads during the Super Bowl. Just like any marketing effort, you need to have strong content to encourage engagement. However, with such a high demand in money compared to the amount of air time, monetizing the value of social integration should at least be top of mind. It undoubtedly extends user experience with the brand past the 30-second ad, which in turn can only translate to more value for that company. But will this ultimately raise the price for the ever-so-coveted airtime space? Will marketers be willing to pay more for adding social mentions? Only time will tell.

All I’m certain of is we’ve awoken a sleeping giant over the past few years, indefinitely. Why not use this as an advantage as a marketed brand? The Super Bowl is just one day a year that has allowed companies to have major success with their campaigns. Why not make every day a Super Bowl Sunday?

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