Sunday's Super Bowl will be a major social media event. Here's how to insert your brand into the conversation.
The buzz around Sunday's Super Bowl LI is already ramping up—and your company can take advantage of it on Twitter to promote your brand.
"The Super Bowl not only has a huge audience, it is also creates a forum for discussion and interaction," Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. "It is one of the few times when everybody has a shared experience, and everybody has an opinion. And brands want to be part of the conversation."
It's clear that businesses don't want to put out social media content that is exclusively promotional, Calkins said. Instead, he sees the Super Bowl as "a wonderful opportunity for brands to interact with customers, and be part of the chatter."
The growth of social media has extended the shelf life of the Super Bowl, said Andrew Caravella, vice president of strategy and brand engagement for Sprout Social. "It's given a lot of businesses and brands a way to inflect themselves into the conversation in a more affordable way than taking out an ad," he said.
To get noticed on Twitter during the big game, brands should start tweeting now, using hashtags like #Superbowl51, said Allison Rosenbaum, Social Media Manager at Buzz Creators. Conversations about the game continue on social media through Monday, she added, so make sure you continue participating during the post-game analysis and discussions about commercials and the halftime show.
Here are 10 tips for getting your company a social media win during this year's Super Bowl.
1. Keep your content relevant.
Look for niche conversations your audience is having around the game, entertainment and commercials, Caravella said. "Understand what the goal is for you as a brand or business, and why it would make sense for you to be involved in Super Bowl talk," Caravella said. "Understanding the relevancy of why you're doing what you're doing is paramount, because there is so much noise."
It's also important to remain in your brand's voice on social media, even during the Super Bowl, Calkins said.
2. Do your research in advance.
Confirm the correct hashtags for performers, players, teams and brands you might want to align yourself with during the game, Caravella said. This saves precious seconds when live-tweeting.
You should also plan ahead in terms of thinking through potential messages that could be a good fit for the big game, according to Allison Matherly, coordinator of digital engagement in the office of communications and marketing at Texas Tech University. "By having some topics prepared, and even some actual tweets, you will be ready when the time comes, and with Twitter, timing is everything," Matherly said.
3. Skip the war room.
"Pre-planning is important, but you shouldn't have to go through layers of approval" before tweeting, Caravella said. Empower your social media team to respond in-the-moment by arming them with the right tools—especially visual and graphic tools—to create on-brand social content, from memes to GIFs to witty retorts, said Caravella.
"So much of what makes social during the Super Bowl great is when it's spontaneous, seemingly off-the-cuff, and relevant in the moment," he said. "If you get caught up in too much bureaucracy, you can miss the moment."
4. Pay attention to the game, and everything else in the broadcast.
Paying attention to the game and being prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they arise is crucial, Matherly said. "Don't just watch the game itself, but also everything else going on during the broadcast," she added.
One of the most memorable ads during the 2013 Super Bowl wasn't even an ad, Matherly said, but a well-timed, on-brand tweet from Oreo during the power blackout at the Superdome during the halftime show:
"Keeping an eye out for opportunities that make sense for your brand is essential," Matherly added.
5. Communicate your brand's benefit.
Don't just tweet about the game or the commercials, Calkins said. "It's not very helpful to say 'That was a funny piece of advertising, wasn't it?'" he said. "It's more useful to come up with something related to your brand."
For example, last year, financing company SoFi tweeted in reaction to the game and other advertisements in this fashion:
SEE: Social media policy [download] (Tech Pro Research)
6. Capitalize on what the internet is talking about, not just what TV is covering.
Social media users are often abuzz with side commentary, Caravella said. Tap into relevant trending topics there as well, instead of relying only on the big screen.
Many third parties also publish articles and content during the game, Caravella said. Don't wait until Monday to monitor and share those—this way, you can stay ahead of the conversation, he added.
7. Create content that generates an emotional response.
For big marketing events like the Super Bowl, emotion plays a huge role, and in many ways, brands that generate the biggest emotional response win, said Chris Johnston, founder of emotion analytics firm Adoreboard. The company's research found that celebrity posts on Twitter that contain strong emotions such as ecstasy, admiration, terror, amazement, and rage generated the most retweets and favorites.
"Brands during Super Bowl should be conscious that strength of emotion could be an indicator of how likely a marketing message could spread across Twitter," Johnston said.
8. Keep it light and funny.
While emotion is good, it's best to stick to happier emotions that fit the atmosphere associated with the Super Bowl, Matherly said. "People want to laugh, and they expect clever messaging, so serious messages don't do well, and in fact, often receive negative responses for being shared in the wrong place and the wrong time," she added.
"Twitter really, really loves clever puns," said Nick Brennan, founder and CEO of Watch Social Media. "Anything you can do from riffing off of a player's name to making lighthearted jokes about other brands in the conversation is fair game. Just make sure you take a few seconds to think about whether or not what you're about to say can be misconstrued in any way."
9. Move quickly.
Social media moves fast, so if you want to be part of the discussion during the Super Bowl, you've got to get your thoughts out there right away, Calkins said. "You can't sit back and spend half an hour thinking about the right way to express something," he added. "You have to get it out there immediately, when people are eager to talk about it."
10. Don't force it.
Don't force a tweet that doesn't fit for your brand or the game, Matherly said. "Something that doesn't make sense will be extremely obvious when all the conversation is around football and the advertisements," she said. "Plus, just because an opportunity arises, doesn't mean it's right for your business. Each brand has its own tone and culture, and it's important to make sure your brand matches the tone of the Super Bowl."
As long as you're respectful, you can have a more regular conversation from your brand account, Brennan said. "There is nothing wrong with being a fan of one team over another," he said. "Engaging in the same conversations you would have as a fan, even if they don't tie directly to your business, can earn you credibility as a 'real brand.'"
- Why your company needs a social media policy (TechRepublic)
- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn: How should managers use social media? (ZDNet)
- Video: NFL CIO on why your company should leverage hidden assets (TechRepublic)
- Stadium Technology Is Key For NFL Fans (CBS Sports)
- Extreme Networks named official Wi-Fi and analytics provider for Super Bowl 51 (TechRepublic)