Super Bowl XLIII is in the Books
The Cardinals and their loyal fans have licked their wounds and returned home with dignity, and The Steeler Nation prepares to celebrate their sixth Super Bowl championship in franchise history (a “six pack” a true football fan can appreciate), we can all head out to Denny’s eat a free Grand Slam and ponder the involvement of Social Media in and around this massive event.  The game came down to a fourth quarter rally involving a safety and a last minute drive.  Add to that the longest play in Super Bowl history: a 100 yard pick six with :00 left in the half, and you’ve got yourself a sporting gem worthy of the ages.  By contrast, aside from offering up the most expensive ad slots in the history of the game at $3 million per :30 second slot, the advertisements and the public reaction to those advertisements seemed to fall a bit flat. In fact, from a social media perspective, we saw very little “official” brand or broadcast incorporation of all of the tools we have come to embrace as social media fans and enthusiasts.


Brands Don’t Get Social Media…Yet
Calling out the use of Social Media references by major brands is a stretch…since there really weren’t any of any significance doing anything terribly engaging. It was fun watching @superbowl offer up a few tweets throughout the event “via web” and then “via twitterberry” (assuming they headed down to the field), and even more amusing to see the account of @nfl (completely blank), but nothing really materialized into a true 2-way conversation between @superbowl and anyone else. It was even more amusing to see @MCHammer‘s account activity during the game and around the time of his Cash4Gold ad spot. People seemed to really reach out to him specifically because he is so engaging via Social Media. If only a brand could capture that magic… One brand did get a LOT of mileage out of their campaign: Denny’s. It’s two days later and as of the time of this posting, people are still posting about the free Grand Slam breakfast!

Free Grand Slam!

Social Media Adds a Layer to the Event
Some took matters into their own hands, providing a fascinating social outlet for reactions. Just let yourself be dazzled by this amusing graphical depiction (New York Times) of some Super Bowl related keywords on Twitter during the game to see what people thought about the game.  In addition to the organic chatter on Twitter (ex: #SuperBowl, #Steelers, #Cardinals), Facebook status updates and MySpace postings, there were multiple view & vote options to share feedback and thoughts about the advertisements. The most visible seemed to be YouTube, Hulu.   Even PR 2.0 maestro Brian Solis (@briansolis) and friends (Jeremiah Owyang – @jowyang, Chris Heuer – @chrisheuer, Louis Gray – @louisgray, Jesse Stay – @jesse, and Guy Kawasaki – @guykawasaki) offered up a “Twitter Bowl” option incorporating hashtag #SuperBowlAds complete with a SocialToo poll. The big takeaway here is that there were plenty of people engaged with the event who were aching to contribute to the experience with their thoughts and ideas. These people are using Social Media to great effect to collectively share a worldwide experience with one another and to add a new and engaging layer to the broadcast experience. Think of it as “viewing in 3-D”, but without the red and blue glasses.

3-D Glasses

Room for Improvement Across the Board
We understand that not everyone will be as compelled to fire up a laptop or a mobile device in the middle of a crowded Super Bowl party, but it seems clear that there is much more that can and should be done to incorporate Social Media into Nationally broadcast events with extremely high ratings. There was not one @ reference as far as we could see throughout the pregame, in-game, or even post-game official broadcast. Most web URLs flashed by so quickly at the end of an ad, that they were easily missed and didn’t really encourage user participation. Here are just a few ideas for how the broadcasters, the brands, and even the viewing audience can improve upon this year’s toe-dip into the Social Media broadcast experience:

  • Use the 30-second spots to draw users into web sites/wap sites where they spend more than :30 seconds interacting with the brand. For example, Anheuser-Busch’s newly launched could have been mentioned, but wasn’t.
  • Encourage user participation.  Some of the biggest laughs were had by those reading the constant stream of tweets from those watching the game. Incorporating this level of user-generated content (via filters…for family friendly outcomes: see NYT link for example) and feedback can absolutely enhance the broadcast. Think MTV’s TRL, then go a few steps further.
  • What would Obama Do? Borrow a page from the most successful social media engagement of recent note: Obama’s campaign.  Collect people who are interested into email databases, phone databases for opted-in sms updates, deploy a FREE Super Bowl mobile app for extended commerical footage, enhanced statistics, player bios and historical information. The peak of interest in the game seemed to be during the two weeks prior to kickoff when people anticipated the game. This is the key window of opportunity to convert anticipation into participation.

We look forward to your feedback and views on the Super Bowl as it relates to Social Media. Please feel free to link to this article, borrow ideas, and share back. We’re all in this together! Perhaps next year, we’ll even experience the Super Bowl that much more collectively!

Written by: @geoffabrown

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