Social media lessons from Super Bowl XLVIII

February 10, 2014Uncategorized

Social media lessons from the Super BowlThe Seahawks may have scored the final touchdown, but the real winners of Super Bowl XLVIII were the companies featured during the ad breaks. With competition for air time driving the price of a 30-minute slot up to a sky-high $US4 million, brands vying for attention found new, creative and, more importantly, interactive ways to market themselves to the world.

Content made for social has a number of principles at its core. These include a focus on storytelling, simplicity and socialisation, all in the hope of acquiring the Holy Grail of social – aka user-generated content. Elements of these attributes can be seen when you scratch the surface of most of the ads aired during last weekend’s Super Bowl, but it’s the brands that didn’t spend the big bucks that really caught our attention.

Let’s explore the best branded social media lessons from Super Bowl XLVIII.

Budweiser versus Chevy

The prize for biggest talking point at this year’s Super Bowl goes to Budweiser for their heartwarming campaign, #BestBuds. It’s relevant, emotional, shareable and subtly branded, but did it convert viewers into advocates of the brand in the social domain? In these stakes Budweiser lost out to Chevy, who’s simple, unpredictable and altogether less gimmicky ad #PurpleYourProfile has won the company 88.7K new fans and accelerated the company’s fan acquisition rate by 500 per cent.

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Next up in the simple-but-engaging stakes is Esurance’s stand against extortionate advertising costs. Choosing to air their ad in the cheap slots after the game saved them $US1.5 million, which they thoughtfully passed on to fans through a simple Twitter-based competition using an unassuming hashtag, #EsuranceSave30. Over 2.5 million people have now entered the competition to win the pool of money, creating 255,430 new Twitter followers . Pennies and followers in the bank – well done guys!


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Social-ready content reaches its peak when consumers identify enough with a brand to go to the trouble of creating content for them. Hats off to Doritos, who successfully achieved social-ready content with their #VoteTimeMachine campaign. In the lead-up to the Super Bowl, Doritos offered loyal munchers the chance to create their own ad to be aired during the Super Bowl, as well as an incredible $US1 million prize. The clever amplification campaign offered opportunities for social engagement with an ever-broadening global audience. And the result meant Doritos was able to successfully leverage buzz from the event and produce fantastic user-generated content with minimal input and maximum social media presence.

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How to play in this field

Super Bowl XLVIII has secured its place in history as the first event where advertisers and the rest of the world simultaneously picked up their mobile phones and entered the real-time media arena, and the stats are astronomical: 50 per cent of all ads contained a hashtag or call to action, while 90 per cent of engagement occurred via mobiles. This proves how ingrained the second screen really is.

As content marketers there’s plenty we can take away from this living case study, so here are some top tips:

Seeing is believing: Make sure you include high-quality visuals and a prominent hashtag to ensure maximum exposure. Conversation around your campaign is all well and good, but if you can’t track or follow it then you’re doing yourself and your fans a disservice.

Diversify your social platforms: Every brand is clamouring to be seen and heard on Facebook and Twitter, but what about the other networks that are gaining prominence and loyal fan bases under the radar? Do your research and find your niche before you start competing for that evermore elusive spot in the Newsfeed.

Chat, chat, chat: Interaction is what content marketing and social media are all about, so don’t be afraid to engage with consumers and brands alike. We’ll leave you with this very clever Tweet from Snickers as an example of how to do it right.

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Claire O’Dowd – Community Manager

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