5 Social Lessons From Super Bowl XLVII

From the blackout to Beyonce to the actual game, this year's Super Bowl had much to teach about social business.

Debra Donston-Miller

February 4, 2013

5 Min Read
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10 Social Networks For Special Interests
10 Social Networks For Special Interests (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Super Bowl XLVII is but a memory, but the big game -- and all the hoopla that surrounds it -- provided some important social business lessons.

1. Social is important. If your response to that was, "No kidding!" read no further. (Well, actually, please read further.) If you said, "I still have my doubts," consider this: According to Twitter, there were 24.1 million tweets about the game and the halftime show alone. By the beginning of the second half, the volume of tweets about this year's game had already surpassed last year's tweet total.

On the Facebook side, last year's Super Bowl was the second most-mentioned event on Facebook, second only to the presidential election.

We all know commercials are the big story of the night, and social played a huge factor there as well: Social media networks were mentioned in more than half of all of the commercials that ran during the game, with Twitter getting the most shout-outs in ads.

The upshot for business: If nothing has convinced you yet that social networking is officially part of -- if not driving -- public discourse and opinion, Super Bowl XLVII should.

[ How should businesses measure audience interaction in social media? Read Are Universal Social Engagement Standards Possible? ]

2. You can't let grass grow under you.Within minutes after the lights went out in the Superdome, just after the start of the second half, Oreo issued a Twitter ad reading, "You can still dunk in the dark." Tide detergent was also on the ball, tweeting its own turn of phrase (and leveraging a then-newly-trending hashtag): "We can't get your #blackout, but we can get your stains out." The ads were clever, timely and very widely shared.

The upshot for business: Take advantage of opportunities in the moment. This requires dedicating staff to events that you know will be big in your industry -- or in general -- and training them on what to say and how to say it. That goes for ad hoc comments as well as for highly staged campaigns, which brings us to our next lesson.

3. Any publicity is not necessarily good publicity. There were loads of examples around this year's Super Bowl that disproved the old adage "any publicity is good publicity" -- or, in the case of social, any discussion is good discussion. (We're talking to you, Ray Lewis.) But one example hit home particularly hard: GoDaddy, never known for its advertising decorum, featured an ad showing model Bar Refaeli and "Walter" making out. In close up. With sound. Comments on my own feeds included, "Ew," Blech," "Gross," "Did not need to see that." Sure, people were talking, but does anyone watching these ads even know what GoDaddy does anymore?

The upshot for business: Yes, provocative plays well on social. But you need to strike a balance between being sassy and being taken seriously.

4. Take advantage of the second screen. Many people who watched the Super Bowl did so with one eye on their giant HD television and the other on a smartphone or tablet -- the second screen. CBS, which broadcast the game, knew this and took advantage by not only streaming the entire game but also providing special features that optimized the experience on mobile platforms.

The upshot for business: People clearly aren't using their mobile devices just to watch big games. People of pretty much all ages are glued to them night and day. If you aren't optimizing your customers' mobile experiences with your company -- or aren't providing mobile opportunities at all -- you are leaving business on the table (or basically gifting your competitors with it).

5. Data counts.There was no shortage of big data resulting from social campaigns around the game. They will be parsed and analyzed and dissected to determine what worked and what didn't, and how to most effectively move forward.

For example, according to Twitter, the moments generating the biggest peaks of Twitter conversation (measured in tweets per minute, or TPM) during the game were the following:

-- Power outage: 231,500 TPM

-- 108-yard kickoff return for Ravens TD by Jones: 185,000 TPM

-- Clock expires; Ravens win: 183,000 TPM

-- Jones catches 56-yard pass for Ravens TD (end of 2nd quarter): 168,000 TPM

-- Gore TD for 49ers: 131,000 TPM

According to Facebook, the most-mentioned moments of Super Bowl XLVII were:

-- Ravens win the Super Bowl

-- Beyonce's halftime performance

-- Blackout in the Superdome

-- Jacoby Jones' 108-yard kickoff return for a Ravens touchdown

-- Joe Flacco's 56-yard pass to Jacoby Jones for a Ravens touchdown

-- Joe Flacco's 13-yard pass to Anquan Boldin for a Ravens touchdown

-- Frank Gore's six-yard run for a 49ers touchdown

-- Destiny's Child surprise appearance

-- Ray Lewis retirement

-- David Akers' field goal from 27-yard line

Facebook further released stats on gender, age, location and more.

The upshot for business: There is a ton of data generated from social media activities, both internal and external. It's not easy to make sense of this unstructured data, but the key to your company's next social move is likely buried within it.

What social lessons did you learn from Super Bowl XLVII? Please let us know in the comments section below.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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